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It was during the NeedlExchange’s TNX MAL party in January that I noticed that the crowd dancing in an industrial warehouse in Northeast D.C. seemed half-composed of New Yorkers.

“This party is a special place,” one New Yorker told me. “It is a gem that I miss now that I no longer live in D.C. When I was thinking of coming to D.C. for MAL Weekend, seeing this party listed made up my mind.” As he spoke, he stood in the middle of a group of other shirtless, dancing New Yorkers. Each one taking turns to lean-in and nod or offer their own praise.

The NeedlExchange (or ‘TNX’) collective was formed in 2013 as a collaboration between popular Washington DJs Tommy Cornelis, Bil Todd, and Baronhawk Poitier. They quickly found success among a growing fan base, even when their work was not on the consciousness of those familiar with the mainstream rotation of queer nightlife in D.C. Their work tends to pop-up at most frequently at queer dance events they hold in undisclosed warehouses in Washington. However, the quality of work has grown their popularity in other cities where they perform (they have been frequently featured at the nationally respected Honcho party in Pittsburgh) and they have won adoration from influential DJ collectives such as San Francisco’s Honey Soundsystem.

This year, TNX welcomed another influential Washington DJ to their collective – Morgan Tepper, popularly known as DJ Lisa Frank. This Saturday night, the collective will throw their annual pride party in an undisclosed warehouse in Northeast D.C. Ahead of that event, Brightest Young Things talked with the collective about their work, their inspirations, and what pride means to them.

The NeedlExchange DJs in Atlanta.
The collective has since welcomed DJ Lisa Frank to the group.

Brightest Young Things: A simple question first. Could you describe the type of music that you play in your sets? I ask that because it is different than what you often hear at gay dance parties. I’ve been with friends at great events in other cities where they’ve said “this feels like the NeedlExchange“. But, I have a hard time explaining what that feel of sound is behind “dark, sexy, and great”.

Tommy: We’ve always described ourselves as genre-jumpers (house, techno, and disco are our mainstays) in all of our sets, but what we play greatly depends on where we are and what time of day it is. If we’re at a gay bathhouse during the daytime, you might hear more disco and funk out of us. If we’re playing a late night set at a dark warehouse, we’ll give ya more techno and acid house. Regardless though, everything we play traces back to the origins of the queer dance floor, and we try to exemplify that in all that we do. Our ‘Paradise Mirage’ pride party a few years ago paid homage to it, if you wanna take a listen!
DJ Lisa Frank Spinning Records

Morgan Tepper (DJ Lisa Frank) is the latest member of Washington’s NeedlExchange Collective. She performs this Saturday with the group at the TNX Pride party.

BYT: Can you tell us a little about the arc of your collective? I see that you have a new member and you’re also playing in cities other than D.C.

Bil: The NeedlExchange (aka TNX) has been groovin’ in D.C. since 2013, when Baron, Tommy and I first started congregating every Sunday at the Velvet Lounge on U Street. Pretty soon after that we started playing parties in other cities, primarily on the the East Coast. That was until last year when we had the opportunity to play some incredible events during Folsom Weekend in San Francisco. Right now, we have a slew of parties planned in D.C. for this summer and fall, plus gigs around the country starting in July and carrying us through December.
 
Earlier this year we added a fourth member to The NeedlExchange, Morgan Tepper, aka DJ Lisa Frank, a decision we all felt and desired long before even starting the discussion internally. It just made sense, and when we first started taking TNX to larger venues and calibrating our events on larger scales, Morgan was right there with us – dreaming, creating, hustling! She’s one of our favorite humans to be around, and she pushes us, and believes in the dance floor, just like all of us. Oh, she fucking slays behind the decks.
DJ Minx

Detroit’s DJ Minx will make her D.C. debut at the TNX Pride party. Minx is also CEO of “Women on Wax” recordings.

BYT: Each of you has found success as individual DJs. What is it that you get to experience working as a collective in addition to your solo work?
Morgan (Lisa Frank): When you work in a collective, you have a supportive safety net. You have the ability to gather artistic and musical inspiration from those like-minded individuals around you. I can’t tell you how much I’ve learned from the TNX guys, things I’ve learned about disco and house music especially. There, you have the benefit of working with a team. When doing event production, if you can communicate your wants and needs with each other in productive and clear ways, you really can achieve anything. Some of my best parties  I played before joining the collective were done alongside the TNX crew.
BYT: What collectives or parties in other cities inspire you?
Baronhawk: We’re honored to have been able to work with or alongside so many crews from around the country. Shouts out to Honey Soundsystem, Wrecked, Honcho, Deep South, Polyglamorous and Men’s Room!
DJ Jacq Jill

DJ Jacq Jill also joins the TNX Pride party line-up, which goes until sunrise at a warehouse location in Northeast DC.

BYT: You often use a secret location for your parties not announced to guests until shortly before. Tell us your motivation behind that.
Morgan: Much of it is a nod to early rave culture – when people for were given a map to meet someone else who had a different map that re-directed you to a the event location. I’m not gonna make anyone jump through all those hoops again but people do like a little mystery. Thankfully people have trusted us enough to buy tickets without knowing where the event is until the day-of! That always surprises me.
TNX DJs (Lisa Frank)

The quality work of Morgan Tepper (DJ Lisa Frank, center) has made her a popular performer at D.C. dance parties. In addition to her solo work, she now joins The NeedlExchange collective.

BYT: I was temped to describe your work as “underground”, but that’s really not it. What you do has long been a part of queer culture even if it is not showcased by more prominent aspects of our community. Your work is mainstream, even if it is not in the main consciousness of the forces whose influence define large-scale LGBT tastes and culture. I know that each of you have discussed the importance of that point, and you’ve been a collective who has been extremely supportive of often ignored components of our community. With that in mind, I’d love for you to think about pride and, particularly, what songs speak to you as pride anthems beyond recent pop hits.
Baronhawk:  Phase II – Reachin’ ::: This is just such a bright and friendly classic from 1988! My heart has a soft spot for motivating, uplifting or community unifying lyrics and the late 80s groove makes it such a fun record.
MorganSkatt Bros – Walk The Night ::: It’s a rough, dirty and grimy tune with rough, dirty and grimy lyrics. Touches on the thrill of cruising, leather and sub/dom culture. A timeless track that captures that late 70s vibe perfectly…and it always gets people on their feet, whether they’re straight or queer.
Bil Sylvester – You Make Me Feel Mighty Real ::: Sylvester was such a remarkable human being, and this song perfectly captures his fearless energy, from the chugging bass line and persistent percussion, to the octaves he navigates. The song is so passionate. You can’t help but feel a sense of unison with everyone on the dance floor when this track comes on.
Tommy – Robert Owens – Bring Down the Walls ::: I’ve always loved this as a pride song that’s more about fighting for your rights rather than just about being celebratory.
The NeedlExchange spins this Saturday for the TNX Pride party featuring the DC debut of DJ Minx (Detroit). DJ Jacq Jill will also perform alongside Minx and the NeedlExchange collective. The event will be held from 9:00pm until Sunrise at a undisclosed warehouse location in NE DC. Tickets can be purchased here. Information on location will be provided to ticket holders.
TNX Pride featuring the DC debut of DJ Minx (Detroit)
+ The NeedlExchange (TNX)
+ Jacq JillTickets: http://bit.do/PRIDE179pm – Sunrise
Warehouse Location, NE DC
Martin Audio Sound
Live Visuals

Additional Info:
· Alcohol available for purchase until 2:30am
· Strictly 21+, please bring your ID
· Cash-only bar and box office – ATM on-site
· Street parking.
Please respect the space and each other.
This is an accessible party.
TheNeedlExchange
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