Wild North pulls students out of Foggy Bottom bubble

Sami Yenigun wants you to go wild.

As DJ Sami Y, the GW senior has revamped campus nightlife with Wild North, a production company he formed with other students and local DJs this year. This semester, Wild North hosted two successful dance parties in a Northeast D.C. warehouse that brought GW students out in droves to a typically under-visited area of the city.

Yenigun said the group’s mission is to foster a stronger relationship between GW students and the D.C. community.

“It’s about getting out of the comfort zone,” he said. “I think there’s a really cool, intellectual scene in D.C. and I think that too often GW students don’t know anything about it. There’s potential for a bunch of people to learn a lot about this city, and for music to be the connection.”

Picture several hundred people dancing for five hours straight in an old warehouse to booming house music, and you will have a general idea of a typical Wild North party. Yenigun and fellow Wild North founder Eric Tilden (a.k.a. DJTJ) alternate hour-long sets with Chris Burns and Gavin Holland, two area DJs who also helped start the group. Yenigun and Tilden perform as “Pacemaker,” and Burns and Holland as the “Party Bros.”

“People are just dancing from when they show up – which is about 11 – until four in the morning,” said Yenigun. “By the end of the night there’s just sweat all over the dance floor.”

Tilden and Yenigun teamed up with Burns and Holland in late 2009, after meeting them at a birthday party where the students were DJing.

“They came off as young and enthusiastic,” Burns said. “Gavin and I.have been looking for somebody who is like us: just out of college, or in college, and really hungry to throw parties and DJ and take this thing seriously.”

Passion melded with opportunity: Burns said he approached Yenigun with an “open date” for a party at 411 Warehouse, a funky building on New York Avenue that has only become a legal venue in the last two years.

“[411 Warehouse] had been a totally underground, totally illegal thing – they paid the cops off and stuff – but we threw the first party since it became a legitimate place,” Yenigun said. “It’s got graffiti on the walls, it’s got a view of the Capitol, it’s got some weird art installations in it. It’s kind of a bizarre, low-key place.”

Yenigun said more than 600 people showed up to the first party, held in mid-January; most of them were GW students. It wasn’t until the second party, which attracted a bigger crowd, that the group realized they were on to something.

“The vibe of the second one was incredible. people had their hands in the air almost the whole entire night,” Burns said. “I think the Wild North parties, in terms of the GW crowd, have done well because it’s been a step outside of what’s normally going on.”

The group, led by Yenigun, started a blog and began planning a third warehouse party, scheduled for April 17. Recently, Wild North hosted an event at Science Club where Yenigun, Burns and Ben Howell, another Wild North member who designed the group’s logo, previewed parts of Wild North 3’s playlist to get people excited for the upcoming party.

Junior Simone Freeman, who does marketing for Wild North, said the group’s parties offer a different night out for GW students.

“These typical clubs where you know exactly what music’s being played, when it’s closing, they’re boring,” she said. “We want to keep pushing the envelope, making it bigger and badder every time. This warehouse idea, it’s just getting it kind of grungy and funky and cheap.”

Even the group’s name is a call to explore different parts of the District, Yenigun said.

“The parties that we threw at the warehouse are both north of Foggy Bottom,” Yenigun said. “[Wild North] comes from the idea, ‘Come north GW students, come north of Foggy Bottom. It’s wild up here.'”

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