A password will be e-mailed to you.

I remember the first email ever I got from Chris Chen. It was back in 2006 or 2007, and we had just started BYT. At the time, we were essentially a photography blog, mostly made out of nightlife captions of concerts and dance parties, with community calendar included, which listed mostly concerts and dance parties. I was really young, new-ish to the city, and concerts and dance parties were all I knew about. Chris knew one of our contributing photographers at the time, Joel Didriksen (whose flickr handle, back when flickr handles were as important as instagram handles, was “caught in the flash”), and offered his photography work for our use, with the caveat that “he was the exact opposite of Joel… using natural light, trying to capture things as they are”. I loved the natural, documentary quality of his work, and the rest is, well, BYT and DC photo history. Since then, it has been a privilege to know Chris both as a person and as a photographer.

Chris is NEVER without his camera and never not AT SOMETHING. No person in Washington D.C. can claim to be a bigger supporter of the arts and culture than Chris. Sure, some people spend more money or buy more art, but Chris is always there, and his camera is with him. If you have a gallery opening, you know you will have a photo to show for it. If you have a concert, no matter how small or dingy the venue (actually, the smaller and dingier the better), Chris will make you look like a rock star, but also a human. If you have a random dance party in an El Salvadorean restaurant in Mt. Pleasant or a warehouse skateboarding pop-up, Chris and his camera will be there. Chris came to my wedding and my favorite photo, of all time, of me and my Mother happened when he captured a private moment  on his polaroid. And then, a year, five years, a decade later, maybe even during a pandemic, he will tag you on his instagram and remind you of that one night, day, pool party or house party, where he took the most natural, relaxed photo of you and you will feel connected to the world around you a little more, even for just one moment.

I am, in fact, confident that one day the Washington Historical Society (or, frankly, probably the Smithsonian) will wake up and acquire his collection as a snapshot of what Washington D.C. looked and felt like for decades.

So, with the kick off of the 3rd month of the pandemic quarantine about to happen for all of us, and our independent venues and artists needing our support more than ever,  I thought it would be a nice time to ask Chris to do a recent edit of some of his favorite moments in the last couple of years. I should have done it sooner, frankly.

Maybe you are in the photos below. Maybe you were THERE that night. Maybe you wanted to be there but couldn’t. Regardless, here is our city, creative, resilient and weird, through the eyes of Christopher Chen, a friend and documentarian:

All photos: @furcafe

p.s. this is part 2 in our loosely themed COVID photo essay series – if you would like to submit a photo essay, please email us at [email protected]


End of shift shots with Nick Pimentel at Elle, Mt. Pleasant St., December 2018.


Alyssa Bell (DJ Baby Alcatraz) at the last Shout Bamalama at Haydee’s, Mt. Pleasant St., July 2019.


15th Sundress Fest at Wonderland, Kenyon St., May 2019.


King Khan & the Shrines at Black Cat, 14th St., October 2018.


Franklin James Fisher of Algiers and Victoria Ruiz of Downtown Boys at Black Cat, 14th St., November 2018.


Jessica Louise Dye of High Waisted at DC9, 9th St., April 2017.


Om.era.kev at the opening of Rachel Schmidt’s “Cairn Sounds” at Hamiltonian Gallery, U St., January 2019.


Opening of “Visualizing Fugazi” at Lost Origins Gallery, Mt. Pleasant St., April 2019.


Darlingdance Company’s “LOAD” at DC Arts Center, 18th St., October 2018.


Opening of Hen House’s “Tiny Show 2: An All Women/Trans/Non-Binary Art Show” at Good Fast Cheap (former Sav-A-Lot), Rhode Island Ave. NE, November 2019.


Opening of Julie Wolfe’s “Under Their Gaze, We Become Creatures” at Hemphill Fine Arts, 14th St., September 2019.


Julie Wolfe and Hedieh Ilchi at the opening of Julie’s “Under Our Gaze, We Become Creatures” at Hemphill Fine Arts, 14th St., September 2019.


Keyhan Solo drawing as part of Rirkrit Tiravanija’s “(who’s afraid of red, yellow, and green)” at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Independence Ave., SW, May 2019.


Pow! Wow! DC’s Secret Walls art competition at the Line Hotel, Euclid St., May 2019


Maps Glover and Rex Delafkaran perform during the opening of “Intermediate: Fluxus Interpretations” at DC Arts Center, 18th St., May 2019.


Improv Dancers at the George Washington University performing during closing of Robin Bell’s “Open” at the Corcoran Gallery, 17th St., March 2019.


Rory Sheridan & Mitchell West of Loud Boyz at the Pie Shop, H St., NE, February 2020.


Alex Anderson and Devin O’Donoghue of Loud Boyz at St. Stephen and the Incarnation Episcopal Church, Newton St., December 2018.


David Cabrera during St. Patrick Swayze’s Day at Suns Cinema, Mt. Pleasant St., March 2017.


Frank Hallam Day at the 3rd Birthday of Suns Cinema, Mt. Pleasant St., May 2019.


Ryan Mitchell at Suns Cinema, Mt. Pleasant St., July 2019.


Odetta Hartman at U Street Music Hall, September 2018.


Haiku Hands at Union Stage, Water St., SW, March 2019.


Zumi Rosow of Black Lips at Union Stage, Water St., SW, February 2020.

BYT makes our living off of things that are currently non-existent as a source of income (arts, events, arts and event advertising). If you’d like to support the work we do, click here. Every little helps right now. Thank you.