Electronic Dance Fans Are In a Buzz

By Fritz Hahn
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, September 14, 2007

It has been 14 months since Nation nightclub closed, a victim of development in Southeast. So it has been 14 months since Buzz, the biggest and most influential night of electronic dance music in Washington, was left without a place to throw its weekly parties.

But finally, it's time to write those three little words that fans of electronic music have been waiting for: Buzz is back.

There are still seven days until DJs Moby, Sander Van Doorn and Scott Henry kick off the new chapter of Buzz on Sept. 21 at Fur nightclub, an enormous space in Northeast. But for those loyal Buzzgoers who saw some of the biggest DJs in the world grace the turntables at Nation -- Paul Oakenfold, Sasha and Digweed, Paul Van Dyk, Fatboy Slim -- the anticipation will be almost too much.

So what took so long?

For months before Nation closed, Buzz heard from club owners who wanted the party at their venues. "It was like being courted," laughs Amanda Huie, Buzzlife's vice president of operations. "I've never had so many dinners bought for me." Henry, the founder of Buzzlife, recalls how one club owner -- whom he declines to name -- sent a limousine to Buzzlife's Georgetown offices to take them to lunch.

Buzzlife decided to take some time off. "That year off allowed us to talk to our customers . . . and it gave us time to brainstorm," Henry says, adding that he didn't feel pressure to relocate right away. "We felt pretty strongly that for Buzz to come back, it had to be in a space that had what Nation had, but could take it one step better."

So Buzzlife went into a nomadic existence, hosting events at venues of all sizes across Washington. Huie says the goal was for Buzz to open itself to new audiences and try different venues on for size, but two months ago, the perfect solution arose.

Fur had made an offer to Buzz in summer 2006, but Henry didn't think it was a good fit. The club was the longtime home of Glow, a trance night that drew thousands every Saturday for such DJs as Paul Van Dyk, Deep Dish and Gabriel and Dresden -- DJs that Buzz would also want to book. Then Glow moved to Ibiza a few blocks away, and Fur was suddenly looking for a new flagship night.

Henry says that Fur and Buzz have "entered into a partnership, and we're looking at longevity." That involves using Buzzlife's decade of experience at Nation to suggest ways that Fur could improve the layout and crowd flow, including moving the DJ booth to a more prominent position, revamping the club's patio, taking out seating areas and shortening bars.

Henry is promising a "carnival-like atmosphere" with decorations by RKM, the Miami-based production company that created sets for the "Queer as Folk" club tour and decorated famous nightclubs such as Space and Nikki Beach in Miami, and New York's Twilo and Crobar.

"Things have become a little stale," Henry says. "We want to make this more visually entertaining and stimulating."

It's not just about the decor, either: Customers can send photos of themselves in costume to win free admission. "I'd like to bring it back to the way it was when DJs were not the only focus," Huie says.

But at an event with as much prestige as Buzz, the DJs are going to be an integral part of the experience.

"I like to think that Moby and Buzz both evolved over a very similar time frame," Henry says. (Moby's first album, "Moby," was released in 1992, shortly before Buzz debuted as a warehouse-style party.) "He's changed over the years, but he has this crazy cult-like following. He gets respect from the alternative world to the rave world to the house world. He's crossed so many borders."

Moby's new work is said to be influenced by disco and house, but at the moment he's probably better known for his views on animal rights and the environment than for his past few albums. Buzz fans who worried the night would lose its edge should be assuaged by the presence of hot young Dutch trance DJ Sander Van Doorn, who has been getting plenty of attention in European circles and is about to drop his debut album. And, of course, there's Henry, who will be spinning a set of classics.

This mixture of favorites and up-and-comers is one that will be repeated throughout the year. House legend Carl Cox (Oct. 26), Philadelphia drum 'n' bass king Dieselboy (Nov. 21) and "electronica" veterans the Crystal Method (Dec. 14) are all back on the schedule, but so are highly regarded Berlin electro DJ Boys Noize (Dec. 7), techy-electro remix aces MSTRKRFT (Oct. 12) and housey-electro German duo M.A.N.D.Y. (Nov. 9).

Buzz Sept. 21 at 9 at Fur, 33 Patterson St. NE; 202-842-3401 Tickets:$25, available at Age 18 or older.

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