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Posted at 4:25 PM ET, 01/13/2011

In concert: Moombahton Massive at U Street Music Hall

By Aaron Leitko

moombahtonThe Moombahton Massive crew, from left to right: David Heartbreak,
Quincy, Billy the Gent, Dave Nada, Cian, Munchi and Sabo. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

You don't have to be in great shape to get down to moombahton. The D.C.-born dance music micro-genre is languid, bass-heavy, and slow. You can get away with a few knee-bends and still look enthusiastic.

Wednesday night U Street Music Hall hosted the second Moombahton Massive party -- an entire night dedicated to the newly-minted style and its founding DJs. Munchi, Sabo, Heartbreak, and Dave Nada, spent four-plus hours blasting their Latin-tinged two-step beats off of a laptop while dancers bobbed like watermelons in a swimming pool. Up front, close to the booth, things were a little more spirited. Topping out at 110 bpm, the music is slow enough that true believers can dance to it double-time.

Nada -- who also DJs techno and house music as part of the duo Nadastrom-invented Moombahton in 2009 by slowing down the pitch of a Dutch house record. When slowed down, the music took on the character of reggaeton-a popular style of Latin dance music-albeit with a thicker, deeper low-end presence.

Listening to Moombahton at a club is a bit like getting tossed around inside an off-center washing machine. The rhythms rely on herky-jerky triplets, rather evenly paced kick drum hits. Melodic hooks are largely absent-replaced by snippets of hip-hop verses and quick catch phrases. Chief among these, "Turn up the bass."

dave nadaMoombahton creator Dave Nada. (Josh Sisk/FTWP)

The sound quickly leapt off of Nada's laptop and into the global dance-music community. A Youtube search will yield a bundle of Moombah-inspired remixes. Tracks frequently made the airwaves on El Zol 99.1. And the sound has caught the ear of big-name producers like Diplo -- who worked extensively with hip-hop artist MIA -- and the Neptunes. It has fostered regional spin-offs like Boombahchero and Moombah-core.

But there's a distinct Beltway sensibility to Moombahton. D.C. audiences have always preferred their dance rhythms unhurried -- from go-go to Thievery Corporation's easy-going down-temp grooves. The music Nada blasted at the Moombahton Massive party shared this sensibility.

It has a wide audience, though. The mostly-packed dance-floor was crowded with a Star Wars-cantina worth of fashion statements-mohawks, dreadlocks, and some "Flashdance"-inspired '80s garb.

When the night hit its emotional peak somewhere around 1:45 a.m., Nada played tracks that swelled into pummeling, percussive crescendos. But the resolutions defied conventional dance-floor logic. When the drums dropped back into the mix, they had
slowed down.

dave nada

dave nada

dave nada

By Aaron Leitko  | January 13, 2011; 4:25 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  Dave Nada, Moombahton, Munchi  
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