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DIY, Legalized Submerge and its discontents

Here’s how D.C.’s No Kings Collective describes itself: “We specialize in both client-based and independent creative projects, with particular experience in the arts and entertainment,” the group’s “about” page reads. “We can both provide consulting as well as produce projects from initial conception to completion.” Not very punk, is it? Yet the group is responsible for one of the larger DIY art projects on the D.C. calendar: Submerge, a multinight, multivenue, and multivalent performance extravaganza. “Performance” may not be the right word for the work in this fair, a mix of craft, fashion, street art, music, and above all, branding. Participants include Worn magazine, an occasional fashion publication that sells an iPhone case in the shape of a vintage Leica camera and bandies about in a classic 1967 Datsun 1600 convertible. Submerge is a street-art party built for the Tweed Ride set (which are increasingly overlapping groups). The nine-day event draws sponsors such as Tito’s Handmade Vodka and car2go, but nevertheless calls itself a “happening.” Chalk it up to the increasing professionalization of punk, but whatever it is, “Submerge” is the wrong word for it: There’s just nothing subversive or underground about it.

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