The Eaton DC kicked off their grand opening by hosting the inaugural Human/Progress Festival this weekend. Aligned with Eaton Workshop’s emphasis on progressive activism, the festival was a platform for thought leaders, healers, and artists – as well as a showcase for the hotel and social house’s gorgeous new facilities. On the music programming side, the Human/Progress Festival curated a wide range of electronic and avant-garde artists that wouldn’t have been out of place as part of a more experimental lineup at Moogfest or Form Arcosanti. Highlights included performances by singer and cellist Kelsey Lu, John Tejada, and Denitia, as well as a mind-blowing Saturday night set by Yves Tumor, who played select tracks from his acclaimed record Safe in the Hands of Love. Tumor was a last minute addition to the lineup; an opportunistic inclusion after he opened for Blood Orange at the Lincoln Theatre the previous night.
The programming throughout the weekend placed an emphasis on intersectionality, even if subtly: many of the sessions were led by people of color and highlighted women-owned and queer-led projects, businesses, and perspectives. It was particularly cool to see that the team at Eaton DC didn’t make a big deal about these things, but rather just did it. I was happy to see a wellness tonic bar pop up led by the team at Calabash, one of my favorite spots in the district. It’s always great to see people who do great things for the community get the recognition they deserve.
Whether by design or by accident, the Eaton DC has positioned itself as the home base of “The Resistance”. Or at least, the upper crust of The Resistance; it is definitely cool, fashionable, and priced along the same lines as comparable hotels and social clubs, making it a lot more SoHo House than YMCA. But despite the somewhat intimidating appearance and sleek trappings, I was struck by how fun, welcoming, and unpretentious the ambiance was. Whether it was dancing along to DJ sets by Nancy Whang from LCD Soundsystem or Questlove from The Roots, or bumping into Blood Orange on the rooftop bar, there was a feeling of comfort and accessibility throughout. For a weekend, DC felt as effortlessly cool as LA or New York – but with our equity and social justice twist. I hope Eaton Workshop keeps providing a platform for community leaders and activists from DC and beyond.