Rock Creek Social Club’s Four Years of No-Posturing, No-Inhibitions Partying
Atlanta rapper Makonnen’s hallucinogenic ode to early-week partying, "Club Going Up On a Tuesday," (which just got a huge assist from Drake) would’ve been the theme song for Rock Creek Social Club’s now-defunct Good Life Tuesdays parties. It's also a perfect description of what the D.C.-based lifestyle group has accomplished in its four years.
Established in 2010, Rock Creek Social Club was created to fill a gaping hole in the city’s after-hours scene. Tonight, the outfit will celebrate its fourth anniversary at U Street Music Hall with music curated by in-house DJ Jerome Baker III, rising turntablist Spinser Tracy, and New York City lifestyle impresario Va$htie. Billed as the "party of the year," it hopes to build on everything that dragged Good Life Tuesdays from the underground and made the party an unlikely success for two years by appealing to an audience no one else attempted to—or knew how to—reach.
"In 2010 the nightlife options were slim for kids who didn't necessarily want to 'turn up,' but wanted more than the average bar experience," co-founder Baker explains in an email. "As music and cultures began to merge, it was clear that D.C. was lacking a nightlife experience that could fill all voids and improve upon the existing paradigm."
With a new decade underway and D.C.’s nightlife scene in need of a deviation from the usual bars, lounges and vanishing megaclubs, Rock Creek Social Club introduced Good Life Tuesdays, an event well outside the realm of the average party. It was a house party environment dumped into a lounge (Recess Lounge, that is) on a Tuesday night. There was no dress code and no cover (until the very end of its run), and it rapidly ballooned into one of the city's top parties, thanks to its heavy word-of-mouth support and wide range of music styles. "Looking back on it, and I say this with all due respect, Good Life Tuesdays was probably the best weekly party that D.C. has seen," Baker says. "The diversity of the music, attendees, and the vibe of the party was like none other in D.C." It left such an imprint that when Recess closed in April (on a Tuesday, of course), Rock Creek Social Club was invited back to help close the chapter.
People flocked to Good Life Tuesdays for the welcoming, familial environment and to shed all inhibitions. There was little posturing, a rarity along D.C.’s nightlife circuit. It was the only place where you could hear the thump of MGMT’s "Electric Feel," the youthful optimism of Kid Cudi’s "Pursuit of Happiness," the triumphant layers of Kanye West’s "All of the Lights" and the muffled rage of Nirvana’s "Smells Like Teen Spirit", before the night ended with everyone singing Backyard Band’s classic cover of Raphael Saadiq’s "Still Ray." It was more than a party; it was a cultural phenomenon.
"Rock Creek Social Club—and Good Life Tuesdays in general—was directly influenced by parties in Chicago, New York, and London," Baker recalls. "Open-format sets from [DJs] Mark Ronson and Jazzy Jeff were the soundtracks to our early meetings as we were planning events."
Within months of their inception, Good Life Tuesdays expanded from bi-weekly to weekly, drawing the likes of Chicago rapper and actor Common and D.C.’s own Wale, who once performed his verse from Waka Flocka’s anthemic "No Hands" while standing on a couch next to the DJ booth. It wasn’t appearance fees that reeled in the stars; it was the intel that this was the place to be on a Tuesday night. Soon, Rock Creek Social Club was rotating the city’s best DJs while attracting legends like Boogie Down Productions’ D-Nice as well as Dave Nada and Kanye West’s road DJ, Million $ Mano. There were holiday parties, there were brilliant one-offs (like nights where more than half of the music was created by Virginia-based production duo the Neptunes), and then, in October 2012, it all came to an abrupt end.
According to Baker, the rigors of organizing Good Life Tuesdays each week became too grueling. "An experience like Good Life Tuesdays was always a weeks worth of time. When the party ended, we were back at it on Wednesday preparing for the next week," he explained. "We never really had time to smell the roses because we were always planning the next party." The members of Rock Creek Social Club never considered themselves solely party promoters; they wanted to impact D.C.’s social scene in other ways. So last year, they traveled to Austin's SXSW and Miami's Art Basel.
"Going to those events helped us understand that there are like-minded people of our cloth out there," Baker says. "They may just live in different area codes, but if we take what we learned and enjoyed at SXSW and Art Basel and apply it to our events and day-to-day creativity, then we are creating the best experiences possible." This led to Rock Creek Social Club's partnerships with the environmentally-conscious Broccoli City and Everyday People NYC, whose mash-up of brunch and dance party has gained national acclaim.
A product of Rock Creek Social Club’s new iteration is Grilled Cheese Social, a monthly slant on the day-party experience, held at Marvin. "Grilled Cheese Social comes from a love of grilled cheese sandwiches and comes at a point in time where D.C. is chock full of day parties, particularly on Saturdays," Baker says. "While those parties are great in their own right, we feel like our following would love to come out on a Saturday, listen to some Kid Cudi or La Roux, and enjoy a gourmet grilled cheese sandwich at a fair price."
After four years, Baker says Rock Creek Social Club still has yet to scratch the surface of their goals. "The future of Rock Creek Social Club is as bright as ever. We're making the transition into full-blown creative agency and watching the brand grow right before our eyes, struggles and all," he says. "We can't give away much, but we're keeping our eyes and ears to the streets, boardrooms, and the the rest of the world."
At U Hall tonight, with sounds ranging from the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ ageless vigor to Atlanta rapper Young Thug’s distorted, throaty rambles, Rock Creek Social Club will commemorate its fourth year as a business that insists on evolving, always.
Rock Creek Social Club's four-year anniversary party takes place at U Street Music Hall tonight at 10 p.m. $10 in advance; $20 at the door.