Nightlife » Music

The Return of DJ Kostas

by Doug Rule
Monday Dec 31, 2012

Anytime there's a new gay-oriented party starting at a straight nightclub, it's one of the first questions to ask. Can men take off their shirts?

''They can do whatever they want - just give me some loving,'' says DJ Kostas, who's throwing a new monthly party at U Street's Tropicalia. ''Actually, if they want to take their shirts off, that's a form of loving. They give me love - they show me what they've done at the gym. And I'm gonna say, 'Well done.'''

Kostas helps kick off the new year with his party Universal launching Thursday, Jan. 3, at Tropicalia, located underneath the Subway sandwich shop at 14th and U Streets NW. ''The space, the first time I saw it,'' he says, ''I was like, 'Oh, this has my name written all over it! It's a basement. It's a nice size, but not too overwhelming. They have a great sound system, because they also have live bands.'' In fact, the club, which opened over Labor Day, has become best known as a spot to hear live acts performing various Latin styles. But the gay, Greek Kostas is ready to add still more diversity.

''Originally we floated the idea of it being a gay party, but I wanted to leave it open-ended,'' he says, laughing, ''I want the other freaks too.

''And nowadays,'' he continues, ''there are certainly gay nights everywhere. So let's just have it a little more, loose.''

Kostas, of course, was the man behind the music at Lizard Lounge, one of D.C.'s best remembered gay nights, housed at several swanky straight clubs last decade. Since the last Lizard Lounge incarnation in 2008, Kostas has played occasionally as a guest DJ at various venues. But Kostas was naturally focused on finally having his own regular party.

''For the longest time I've missed having my own night, when I just play to people like me,'' he says with a smile. Partygoers can expect his signature style of soulful house - but the focus is on new tunes, and more obscure tunes than your average gay DJ. Expect to hear little of what gets played on the radio.

In recent years Kostas, 54, has gotten more into a side business, selling records via the handle ''whattoexpect'' on the website Discogs. And last year he also married the man who is the reason he came to the U.S. in the first place. Kostas met David Rowland while Rowland was stationed in the US Army in Greece in 1982.

Of the couple's small ceremony in a D.C. government building, Kostas says, ''I cried like a little bitch! It was so embarrassing.''

Universal with DJ Kostas launches Thursday, Jan. 3, at 10 p.m. Tropicalia, 2001 14th St. NW. No cover. Call 202-629-4535 or visit

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