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Dance music’s 2012 has been all about its acceptance of a future guided by the invisible hand of shameless corporate hucksterism. However, this week’s DC-hosted Forward Festival is the rare event that still lives and breathes by the concept of peace, love, unity and respect. For four days in the Nation’s Capital, some of the largest names in dance, including Detroit techno king Jeff Mills, OG US dubstep advocate Joe Nice and top progressive bass names FreQ Nasty and Jacques Greene will showcase their considerable talents.

This isn’t an event undertaken by neophytes hopping on and riding a pop cultural wave. The team at 88DC are dyed-in-the-wool, true school dance culture appreciators. If you’re coming to these events looking for a drugged out womp fest where you’re “waiting for that sick ass drop, dude,” you’re probably in the wrong place at the wrong time. If you want a sense of what dance culture feels like when all the big name energy beverages and confetti cannons fade away, you’re exactly where you want to be.

Forward Festival is a city inclusive event that also showcases excellent use of available city spaces. If thinking that DC is “still too small for anything major,” a plethora of venues, including obvious spaces U Street Music Hall and Eighteenth Street Lounge and less obvious places, like a pop-up venue space next to Rock and Roll Hotel fit the bill. A great mix of indie mainstream and truly underground venues adds to the idea that this party is as mainstream as tonight’s Nadastrom, DJ Sabo and Torro Torro headlined Moombahton Massive and as deep and weird as the 411 Loft’s house showcase on Saturday night, an event likely to extend until Sunday’s dawn.

Interested in the idea of pursuing production or just wanting a deeper take on the energies of dance? Forward Festival’s considerable educational and artistic components are possibly the least discussed highlights of the week. Both warrant attention and if interested in partaking of the festival, should accompany consumption of the heaviest beats and sweatiest nights.

Too often in discussing the rise of DC as a new wave progressive locale, we miss the forest in spite of the trees. In five years, the Forward Festival has established a standard deserving of both attention and participation. Dance music won’t be this hot always, but it will be this great forever. Forward celebrates this and invites you to as well.

Check out FORWARD Festival’s entire schedule here.