Arts Desk

Vinyl Trap: A D.C. Record Fair Survival Guide

record fairRecord fans nationwide nerd out over rare releases twice a year on Record Store Day. But local vinyl collectors get an additional opportunity to swap sleeves when the D.C. Record Fair rolls around. This Sunday, the shopping celebration moves south to Arlington’s Artisphere in conjunction with the venue’s “Fermata” sound art exhibition. Local musician and engineer Chad Clark will speak about his work, soul vocalist Kiara Lanier will perform, and Ian MacKaye will lead a discussion following a screening of the documentary Led Zeppelin Played Here. Still, the focus, as always, is on the records. Here’s how to make the most of your dig.

    • Check twice that you’re buying the original release, not a Record Store Day reissue.
    • Bring a structured bag that’s deeper than you think you’ll need, and an emergency snack—you don’t want to pass up a late-in-the-day gem because you ran out of arm space or pep.
    • Embrace serendipity and go home with at least one bargain album you’ve never heard of.
    • Don’t freak out if you spot someone examining your personal vinyl Holy Grail from across the room. Slap on a poker face, stroll over, and wait for her to move on: If she knows you’re drooling over it, she might snatch it up just in case.

  • Admission is $5 from 11 a.m. to noon, and $2 from noon to 5 p.m. Pay extra and get there for early-bird hour. There’s no point in saving a few bucks if you miss out on the best stuff.
  • Can’t make it until late afternoon? Try your hand at haggling with vendors who are determined to sell out before they close up for the day.
  • Bring an iPad, log on to Artisphere’s free Wi-Fi, and leave up on your screen to look up how rare that joint really is before you and some grabby teenager come to blows over it.
  • If you hate the stress of elbowing through a sea of vinyl geeks just to get your hands in a bin that might be a bust, skip the whole thing and hit up eBay.
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