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all photos Matthew Streib

You might not expect an Eritrean restaurant to be an incubator of gay nightlife, but Dahlak (at 18th & U) has proven to be just that. The tiny seatbox-of-a-space is where Shea Van Horn and Matt Bailer first launched their popular, monthly party Mixtape. And it is where Bailer first threw his 90’s party Peach Pit. Both parties would go on to outgrow the location, but long-time party goers fondly recall those first few months on U Street.

For nearly two years, there hasn’t been a regular gay party at Dahlak. It was an opportunity that the Pocket Gays (nightlife entrepenuers Devon Trotter and Brett Andriesen) instantly recognized. The team paired up with Jeff Prior and Adam Amin-Koussari for the new monthly Thursday party CTRL (pronounced control). Unlike Mixtape and Peach Pit, there really isn’t a theme to it. “Just an electropop, indie dance party,” says Trotter. That’s good and well, as it really doesn’t need a theme. It works well just as it is.

The BYGays were at Dahlak this past Thursday to host a photo booth for its second installment, and it was filled with cute boys. While its success would be welcome, here’s to hoping that it doesn’t outgrow the confines of Dahlak anytime soon. Gay DC has been hoping that another party would take up residence here, and CTRL is a welcome edition to the monthly dance party scene.

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