BENT’s LGBTQ dance parties have been connecting people and creating community – and consistently selling out – since their first iteration last January and every quarterly occurrence since then. In celebration of Halloween, the team behind BENT is transforming the 9:30 Club into the dancehall of your dreams – or nightmares, if you will.
DJ Steve Lemmerman (perhaps better known as Lemz) and team are bringing some scary and special things to this Saturday’s party at the Club, dubbed “hellBENT.” Though they’ve made an effort to keep each Bent party new and different, Lemmerman says to expect a spookier vibe than usual. Costumes are encouraged, he says, so patrons can “bring out their true selves and just have a good time,” in typical Halloween fashion.
One special appearance includes a performance by DC-based movement company Haus of Bambi, who produce “genderless and gendermore fantasies” and were recently commissioned by The REACH to create an original piece, which Lemmerman actually scored himself.
“This piece is called Electric Idols, and it’s based on if queer nightlife was a religious ritual, what would that look like? It’s a work all of us are super proud of. It’s really beautiful. It’s also my first full length record, as a solo producer. So there’s a lot of milestones in that piece as is,” he explains. “[Haus of Bambi] is tailoring the choreography to work in the room, not just copying the original piece. They’re fine-tuning it just for this.”
Lemmerman says that he’s especially excited to have Haus of Bambi at hellBENT, and hopes the event will spread their name and bring more awareness to the “beautiful, queer work” they produce in DC.
In addition to Haus of Bambi, this special edition of BENT will see a host of other performers bringing their Halloween best to the stage. Ana Latour, who according to Lemmerman “pushes drag to a limit I don’t see too often around the city” is planning crazy outfits and performances to top 40 heroes Billie Eilish and Kim Petras for a “spooky little mix.”
Another DJ, Jacq Jill, will take over the main stage and has also curated the BackBar portion of hellBENT, and Lemmerman notes how she’s curated the lineup to create a special vibe at BackBar.
“It’s run by women, for women, and the DJs don’t have to follow the mold of any sort of music. They can just do whatever their art is. And she’s local, but she’s been getting a lot of national attention lately. I’m just so excited to also have her on that main stage,” he concludes.
HellBENT is sure to provide a fun, carefree and festive space for the queer community and beyond to celebrate Halloween. And as the parties come up on their one year anniversary, it’s also providing Lemmerman time to reflect on the year he’s had organizing and playing these parties.
This year has been a roller coaster because it challenges me to keep my ear to the ground and really get super deep into the DC queer scene, to other spaces I had not been to before, and to scout talent all over the city,” he says. “I wanted [these parties] to be great. The response I’ve gotten has been like, ‘this is what the city needed. I’d never seen anything like this. I thank you so much for doing this.’ A lot of people say that they feel more theme at bent than they do in a lot of other spaces. A friend ran up to me crying, saying they’ve ever felt more valid in the space in their life.”
From the fun to the life affirming, BENT offers something to all who walk through the 9:30 Club’s doors for their parties. The proof is in the pudding: every BENT party this year has sold out, so secure tickets now.
“I get a lot of texts of, ‘what can I do to get in’ during the party, and I am definitely not looking at my phone at that point,” Lemmerman says with a contented laugh.
Luckily, you can still get tickets (for now) on the 9:30 Club’s website for $20. Doors for hellBENT open at 10 p.m. The full lineup for hellBENT includes Lemz, Jacq Jill, Ed Bailey, DJ Damn Kham, Pussy Noir, visuals by Ben Carver, Ana Latour, Betty O’Hellno, Sasha Adams, haus of bambi.
9:30 Club: 815 V St. NW, DC; 202-265-0903; www.930.com