Remembering a Local Legend


For more than four decades, Sam "The Man" Burns kept the DC dance and house music scene alive and thriving. He was a community organizer. He was a music and film aficionado. He was an educator and a mentor, He was an activist and an artist. He was a skilled DJ with an impressive musical intuition, knowing exactly how to steer a dance floor into a safe place for joy, liberation, and spiritual bliss.

Sam was a proud native Washingtonian who was raised in NE, DC and graduated from Roosevelt Senior High School. He worked tirelessly towards his vision of Washington DC being recognized, respected, and celebrated as a place for house music lovers, culture, and community. Sam also was certain to educate, expose and influence others with his experience working in music stores such as Record and Tape LTD, the popular 12'' Dance Music record and the DJ HUT. His first time spinning music in a nightclub was November 20, 1978, at Chapter II (Southeast, DC). He was working as a doorman but was asked to step in to spin music as the club's DJ fell ill. He then became a resident DJ there. Sam held residencies at multiple venues throughout the city. Some of the venues include Chapter II, L.A. Café, The Roxy, Tiffanies, The Clubhouse, Tracks, Chamber of Sound, Chicagos, The Opera, State of the Union, LIV, Red, U Street Music Hall, Tropicalia, Flash, Eighteenth Street Lounge (ESL), and more.
has stated his experience with the now historic nightclub, The Clubhouse ( 1975 - 1990 DC's top African American dance club and earliest gay-oriented social club) as being a major influence on his life. He was a patron/member of the club prior to him becoming a resident DJ in 1985. His most sacred event was the longest-running House Music event in DC which he created and developed - Underground Soul Solution (March 1991 - March 1, 2020)

Underground Soul Solution was Sam's brainchild first held in 1991 at The Opera Nightclub (Adams Morgan). Since then, he held his Soulful dance event at other venues but it really set ablaze in the late '90s at State Of The Union Nightclub (U St) on Sunday Nights. Many people called this event "Church". Sam created a safe haven for many communities. His audiences were varied. You would find people from many cultures, coming together to join in the spirit of love, music, and dance! In a blog post, Sam wrote " I invited and Challenged people from all walks of life......Young, Old, Gay, Straight, Black, White, Hispanic, Asian etc. to dance their troubles away." Not only that, he used his platform to uplift and support, other artists including photographers, filmmakers, dancers, singers, musicians, and DJs; often providing opportunities for them to shine!

In addition, Sam was a radio personality as he was one of 3 dJs for WPFW's radio program - "Back To Paradise" and hosted his own show on XM Radio "Beyond the Mix" (2004-2007). Sam remained relevant throughout his career. People near and far would seek and travel to wherever he would be appearing. His last public appearance behind the decks was on March 1, 2020, at Eighteenth Street Lounge. Sam passed away on March 7, 2020, (age 62) leaving behind his family; including his only son, Mason (then age 16), friends, and a community of artists and music lovers spanning multiple generations. His family continues to honor his legacy with Sam "The Man" Burns Legacy Foundation.