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Michael Jackson fans remember at U Street Music Hall

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By Naomi Nix
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, June 26, 2010; 7:31 AM

On the first anniversary of Michael Jackson's death, several dozen fans headed to the District's U Street Music Hall on Friday night displaying their dancing shoes, their Michael paraphernalia -- and their lingering disbelief.

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"It still doesn't feel like it happened," Brandon Russel, 27, a University of the District of Columbia systems administrator, said of Jackson's passing.

"I have tried to accept what happened," said Quentin Dean, 43, noting that his slick hairstyle was partly inspired by the pop superstar, who died at age 50 after a lifetime in the spotlight. "When you grow up with an artist, you think they are going to live forever."

Clubgoers brought mixed emotions to the free five-hour party, which featured five DJs -- from Harry Hotter, Chris Nitti and D Painter to Baltimore's James Nasty and Delaware's DJ Bis -- spinning nothing but Jackson songs.

As "Thriller" played, Dean was on the dance floor, replicating the moves of the "King of Pop."

Another longtime fan, Leslie Harris, 52, said she's reminded of the performer daily, when she looks at a Jackson-themed calendar that hangs in her home.

"There are some days when I can look at him and I feel joy, and some days and I look at him and I cry," said Harris, who adds that she still has the magazine pictures of Jackson she had in her bedroom as a child.

Other clubgoers said it's Jackson's music that still moves them.

"Even today, driving to work this morning, 'Man in the Mirror' came on and I got goose bumps all over again," said Banke Adeyemo, 27, who said she had tickets to Jackson's comeback "This Is It" tour when the singer died.

"It's like a part of my family died," said Anthony Murray, 42, as he pulled out a silver sequined glove. "I will always feel like this."

Marcus Dowling, who writes the music blog True Genius Requires Insanity, organized the tribute party and said he hopes to hold the event annually.


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