By Zach Bergson - 08/07/12 11:01 PM EDT
David Murimi and Broddy Johnson are on a mission: to unify Washington, D.C.’s eclectic groups of professionals under one strobe light.
The two former congressional staffers had this vision last December, when Johnson DJ’d at Murimi’s 28th birthday party. The party was a huge success, and the bar owner asked them to come back for another night. Johnson then DJ’d a New Year’s Eve party, and the club was so packed that the owner was in shock.
At that point the two realized they were on to something and decided to get more professional about it.
“As long as it doesn’t feel like we’re in the basement of my old apartment kickin’ it on a Sunday afternoon, then it’s worth it,” Murimi said.
Murimi and Johnson met while working on Capitol Hill. Murimi, a staffer for former Rep. Marion Berry (D-Ark.), lost his job when Berry retired at the end of 2010. Johnson had been working for the House Education and Labor Committee for over a year, until he lost his job when the Republicans took over.
Johnson quickly found a job at the Raben Group lobbying firm. Murimi, however, had a much more difficult time — it took him more than a year to find his current job at mCapitol Management. While he was searching, Murimi bartended to pay the bills, which he says helped him build a network for their DJing business.
Murimi, who admitted “he doesn’t even know how to use an iPhone,” said he has nothing to do with the music side of their business. Instead, he focuses on networking with club owners and promoting Johnson’s music skills.
“I’m like the Diddy and he’s the humble talent,” Murimi said with a laugh. “Networking is just a part of my personality. I like to do that, anyway.”
Johnson, Murimi says, is a musical genius. He first got into music while fooling around with his mom’s turntables in high school, but he gave it up in college to focus on his studies. Despite his musical hiatus, Johnson said he had no problem picking DJing back up. He didn’t even use traditional equipment when he played at Murimi’s party.
“My first gig was just off of a Mac with Virtual DJ. I don’t know how I did it, but everything was good,” Johnson said. “The third gig I finally invested in turntables.”
The musical duo said a major goal is to create a following that is racially, ethnically and professionally diverse.
“When I have a good time — whether it’s a house party, a barbecue, a club or lounge — is when there’s a mix of people and cultures,” Murimi said.
This is easier said than done, he added. Approximately 60 percent of their gigs have the type of mixed crowd that they want, according to Murimi.
“Sadly, D.C. nightlife is pretty self-segregated,” he said. “I have no problem with that — people should be able to do what they want to do. But the parties that we want have a mix of people.”
Even if you can bring a diverse crowd together, Johnson said, you need to glue those people together. Music is that glue.
“Once you integrate the people, you’ve got to find the solution — it’s music. I’ll play a song that everybody will like,” Johnson said.
Tristan Wilkerson, a Capitol Hill staffer and a friend of the duo, said Johnson has a unique ability to do this.
“It’s almost as if, we’re out on the dance floor and we don’t always know what song we want to hear, but Johnson has the ability to feel the music as we would experience it on the dance floor,” Wilkerson said. “He’s very aware.”
Damien Savage, a former congressional staffer who’s friends with the pair, said he likes Johnson’s taste.
“It’s always a great mix of oldies with new music mixed together,” he said. “It’s good music for almost anyone. It’s not your typical club, typical nightlife scene.”
For now, Murimi said, they’re not focused on making money. In fact, the two donate all of their profits to local education programs.
“My main focus is to always give back to the community, no matter if it’s in D.C., the nation or in our home states,” Johnson said.
He said they’ve partnered with two area music groups — One Love Massive and Raise D.C. — that donate all of their profits to the community.
“We’ll do bar mitzvahs; we don’t have a problem with that,” Murimi said. “But whatever we do, whatever we’re a part of, we want to be giving back to the community.”