DJ Clarisa Kimskii plays Noxeema Jackson’s first birthday party


After living in Berlin for three years, DC-born DJ-producer Clarisa Kimskii received a letter from the German government telling her that her visa had expired and it was time to leave the country. Instead of moving elsewhere in Europe and fighting the decision, she decided to move back to the Washington area, where she still had family. But what would she return to, having not lived at the DMV since high school?

On the one hand, Kimskii received the letter on Donald Trump’s election night in 2016. At first, she was excited: maybe Trump’s elevation would energize art and music with the spirit of protest and honest expression – a common sight of the silver lining at the time.

Going back to DC’s nightlife scene, the energy was different, at first. “It wasn’t just partying [to] escape our problems or whatever. It almost became like a protest,” she recalls. “He definitely felt that us coming together and coming together with music was a form of resistance.”

As fatigue and frustration with the Trump administration would eventually set in, Kimskii found DC’s tight-knit dance community to be nurturing and supportive. And after years of being dominated by house music and drum and bass, the city’s underground was finally embracing techno, its favorite flavor of electronic dance music.

As with everything, the nightlife has been sidelined and then permanently altered by the pandemic, with wasted spaces and bad actors exposed. For Kimskii, the early pandemic period proved even more disruptive: Kimskii realized she was trans within a week of her mother’s death.

Among the many adjustments made to his life, directing also changed his artistic talent. Previously, it was self-publishing: Don’t play these tracks, don’t play the same artists. Behind the decks, she would be too far in her head.

“Now all of that is gone,” Kimskii says. “I go with my instincts and found I fit in with the flow. I don’t take things that seriously. If the sound doesn’t work or it goes wrong, I seem to smile and breathe a lot easier now.

Coming out as trans also gave Kimskii an appreciation for queer spaces in a different way than when she identified as a bisexual man. Playing Noxeema Jackson’s first birthday party — a DC event series centered on people who identify as queer, trans, black, Indigenous and people of color (QTBIPOC) — allows Kimskii, who is half Korean , to celebrate all of its identity.

“I recently read something by Derrick Carter, who said he always considered himself more evolutionary than revolutionary,” Kimskii said of the Chicago house music legend. “It really touched me, because I operated the same way.”

August 13 at 10:30 p.m. at DC9, 1940 Ninth St. NW. $12 to $15.


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