DJ SCOTT HENRY, the founder of Washington's renowned Buzz and Cubik dance parties, has spun at some of the biggest clubs in the world -- from New York to Miami to the party island of Ibiza. His appearances at Cubik draw thousands, and Henry's old-school sets are perennial crowd-pleasers. Saturday night, Henry adds another line to his impressive resume when he helps kick off Mass Transit, a new monthly electronic music night at Bridges Billiards & Grill (10560 Main St., Fairfax; 703-277-7665).
Yes, Scott Henry is headlining at a suburban pool hall, albeit one with a medium-size dance floor. "You don't [often] get to see Scott in such a small space," says promoter Andrew Flint, known on the electronic dance music scene as DJ Flint.
Flint's Transit, a weekly night of house and trance music DJs at Bridges, has been in operation since May. The free Wednesday night event can draw anywhere from a few dozen to 200 folks, and it isn't short on talent. Resident DJs Ramiro, LXG, Empath and Flint have opened for some of the biggest names in electronic music, including Tiesto and Seb Fontaine. The hosts are joined each week by guest turntablists who've performed in all manner of local clubs -- huge spaces like Cubik and Five, or smaller lounges, such as the Blue Room and Cafe Japone's Sango Sho. Transit's first hour is always reserved for unknown DJs making their first appearances at the club -- or any club, for that matter.
Flint, a California native, began putting on parties in January 2003, taking his inspiration from similar events in Los Angeles and Orange County "that were put on by the people for the people. The objective was to create something that wasn't about the money, but a chance to dance and celebrate life. It was like a family."
That's the atmosphere Flint tried to re-create last year with a series of events at a Fairfax recording studio that featured well-known DJs (including Henry) and charged little or no cover. Flint shuttered those events last summer to focus on his day job -- he heads a financial restructuring company -- and his DJing.
Early this year, when Flint again got the itch to host a DJ night, he persuaded the owners of Bridges to give him a shot. As electronic-music venues go, Bridges is an odd choice. Located on the ground floor of the Mosby Building, which holds both office space and apartments, the pool hall sports an odd mix of industrial decor and colorful, modern design. Purple, blue and green walls blend with similarly hued pool tables. The bar has a more stark design, with slim metal stools, huge, futuristic murals and a large fireplace. George Mason University students fill the wooden dance floor every weekend to dance to hip-hop and Top 40.
Of course, that is all subject to change -- Bridges will unveil new artwork, a new sound system and a reconfigured interior this weekend, and will soon change its name to the more clublike Halo. Transit, though, will remain the same, and Flint says the monthly Mass Transit will draw its featured artists from those who impress most at the weekly gigs -- even those debutant bedroom DJs.
Hey, the next Scott Henry has to come from somewhere, right?
Mass Transit is Saturday from 9 p.m. to 3 a.m. Tickets are $7 before 10:30, $10 after. DJs Joey Muniz and Suneel open the show. (A regular monthly schedule has not yet been determined.) Transit is Wednesday from 8 p.m. to 2 a.m. Admission is free. DJs change weekly.
FOUNDERS' TAPS BREWER
Washington beer lovers are buzzing about one of the biggest personnel moves in recent memory: Bill Madden, the award-winning brewmaster for the Capitol City Brewing Company's Shirlington and New York Avenue pubs, left the company in mid-July to become head brewer -- and co-owner -- of the Founders' Restaurant and Brewing Company (607 King St., Alexandria; 703-684-5397) in Old Town.
Madden spent nine years supervising four different Capitol City brewpubs before moving to Founders, a comfortable spot that, until this summer, was more remarkable for its no-smoking policy than its beverages. He says the reason for the move is simple: ownership. "I did nine years at Cap City," he explains. "I could be there 10 more years and not move any more than I was from being the brewer. Here, we're building a business. It's fun. I'm managing the floor, training the staff, pulling a few shifts here and there."
There are a few old ties at work, too. Madden met Founders owner Stephen Winterling at Capitol City when Winterling was the executive chef for the Capitol Hill branch, and the two remained in contact. When Founders brewer Brian Hollinger left earlier this year, Winterling made Madden an offer he couldn't refuse.
Madden, accustomed to producing lagers and ales for two busy pubs, says Founders is a different world. The brewing capacity is about half the size of Capitol City's, he says, "almost a toy in a way. But it can still make a great beer."
So can Madden. In recent years, his brews won five medals at the prestigious Great American Beer Festival: two each for his light, crispy German-style Kolsch and his sweet, malty Scottish-style Wee Heavy, and one for the hoppy Amber Waves Ale. The Wee Heavy won three more medals at the Real Ale Festival in Chicago, including silver for "Best in Show" in 2002.
So far, Madden has brewed eight beers for Founders, as well as one root beer. Patrons who follow him from Capitol City will find their old favorites -- the Kolsch and Wee Heavy are already on tap, although the latter could use a few more weeks to age while the body fills out. But Madden intends to use the gleaming copper brewing vessels to experiment with new styles and let his creativity run wild, which wasn't always possible at Capitol City because of production pressures.
On the other hand, he says, "I'm sure a lot of people associate me with [the Kolsch and the Wee Heavy] and they expect to see those kinds of beers. Next I have to get started on my Imperial IPA -- people [who came from Capitol City] have been asking for it. What I want to do is have eight to 10 of our own beers and two or three guest beers -- something special, like [Baltimore brewery] Clipper City's Red Sky at Night. We want to be a real taphouse."
For regular customers and beer aficionados, Madden has been known to brew "stealth beers" that don't appear on menus but are available to anyone who asks for them. "It's a lot of fun -- those beers are very special and I want people who appreciate beer to know that they're on tap," he says. When one's coming out, he may mention it in the specialist beer press, such as the Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, or the Internet's DC Beer List (www.brauhausdc.org).
Stay tuned -- this partnership sounds promising.
PARTY FOR A GOOD CAUSE
When DJ Jon Horvath of the local electronic music supergroup Fort Knox Five met hip-hop godfather Afrika Bambaataa at Dupont Circle record store DJ Hut, he gave Bambaataa a business card and a few CDs of the group's funky, breakbeat-driven music. Bambaataa, best known for the groundbreaking 1982 single "Planet Rock," called Horvath the same day and invited Fort Knox Five to produce a few tracks for him.
Fort Knox Five -- which includes musicians who've worked with the local electronica outfits Thunderball and Thievery Corporation -- wound up working on four tracks on Bambaataa's forthcoming album, "Dark Matter: Moving at the Speed of Light." To celebrate, Horvath wanted to throw an album-release party at Five (1214-B 18th St. NW; 202-331-7123), featuring Bambaataa and the Fort Knox DJs.
There was one small problem.
"I talked to Tim [Sherman, co-owner of Five], and he said he had September 11 open, but it's never a good night to do a party," Horvath explains. "And [Bambaataa] was a little hesitant to come to Washington on September 11."
Horvath and his compatriots decided to make the best of a difficult situation and turn the gig into a fundraiser for the International Committee of the Red Cross. Half of each $10 ticket goes to the group, and Horvath says they hope to raise "$3,000 or $4,000" for the organization -- and sign up a few partygoers at a voter registration booth.
Besides the legendary Bambaataa, the event features a DJ set by Thunderball, augmented by live percussion and vocals; Dan Soda and Stylus Chris trading off hip-hop, old-school and house beats on the rooftop deck; local house music whiz Taha; and a late-night appearance by Horvath, who winds up the event at 5 a.m. (The event starts at 9 p.m.)
"[September 11] is a sacred date in the United States," Horvath says. "But . . . this is a chance for us to get a great vibe like in the old days, get people to come together, remember the victims of September 11, get people to vote and raise money for a good cause."