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Posted at 5:50 PM ET, 04/22/2008

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

It's a great weekend for doing good, as bachelorette auctions, '80s parties, bar crawls and live music benefit charities. Also contained in this week's column: old-school hip-hop, an appearance by South African singer Goapele, a gathering of top house DJs, a movie about the great Tommy Chong and "The most exhilarating blast of punk rock you'll experience this year."

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday

Wednesday April 23
Okay, let's face it: You're in a dating rut. It happens to everyone. So you can sign up for a dating site and hope you're "compatible" with both the site and a potential partner; you can go cruise bars and practice your pickup lines; or you can make a trip to the ATM on the way to Whitlow's on Wilson, where it's time for one of the Nightlife Agenda's favorite charity nights: Babes for Boobs. This is the sixth year that Tricia White is raising money for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer by auctioning off dates with her friends and acquaintances. Bid on the eligible bachelors and bachelorettes -- all of whom come with pre-arranged "date ideas" for the lucky winners -- and you might strike a love connection; one couple from the 2005 auction is already hitched. Browse the selection of photos and bios on, find someone who catches your eye and arrive by 7 p.m. for the pre-auction mixer with babes and other looking-for-love singles. You never know: The one who catches your eye might not be on the auction block.

Thursday, April 24
One of the ridiculous ironies of the "War on Drugs" is the 2003 imprisonment of actor Tommy Chong for selling, according to the Department of Justice, "glass pipes commonly associated with marijuana smoking" through his Web site. Chong spent nine months in the slammer for selling glass pipes online. Man, after all the stuff Cheech and Chong got away with in their movies -- including selling pot from an ice cream truck in "Nice Dreams" and crossing the border in a delivery van made out of marijuana in "Up in Smoke" -- the Man couldn't pin nothing on Tommy except selling pipes that could possibly be used as bongs. (And yet you can still buy roses in glass vases at convenience stores. Funny how that works.) Chong's high-larious film career and the government's attempts to bust him for it are the subject of a documentary called "A/K/A Tommy Chong," which gets its D.C. debut at the Modernist Society tonight. Filmmaker Josh Gilbert will discuss the piece and take questions from the audience afterward. The screening is at 9; get there early for good seats. All-night happy hour specials include $3 Brooklyn and Bells beers and glasses of a selected bourbon.

While Vegetate is best known for its vegetarian food and DJ happy hours, its second-floor lounge also hosts rotating shows with local artists -- something to keep your eyes busy while you sip $3 organic pinot noir at happy hour. Two new artists put their works on display tonight: Ethereal portrait paintings by Judith Peck and Ken Ashton's eye-on-the-street photographs of changing neighborhoods around the world. The opening reception runs from 5 to 6:30 and includes hors d'oeuvres and wine. Owner Dominic Redd -- aka DJ Dredd -- might spin some music, but even if he doesn't, he promises the vibe will be "pretty chill." The opening will be followed by Vegetate's revamped happy hour, which includes half-price burgers, $3 beers and a $5 cocktail-of-the-day until 8.

A line-up like tonight's Devotion event at Mirrors can usually only be found at Winter Music Conference or Shelter or something on that scale. But since Scion loves to pump money into underground music culture, everyone benefits. The car company has thrown events in D.C. with the biggest names in hip-hop from Tony Touch to Pete Rock, and now it's going hard with dance music. The home team for tonight's house throwdown consists of DJ Divine (Mirrors, Bohemian Caverns), DJ Big Sexy (3º Global, Five) and Sam "The Man" Burns (Eighteenth Street Lounge, Red). Baltimore's Basement Boys are represented by Teddy Douglas and DJ Spen, and the guest of honor slot goes to Ruben Mancias (listen) of Devotion, the spiritual house label and traveling party based in New York and San Francisco.

Where can bike messengers, college kids, bohos and neighborhood weirdos get down to the sounds of A Tribe Called Quest, Ice Cube and Jay-Z? The correct answer is: Nowhere! Well, at least not since Reunion Thursdays closed down operations a little more than two years ago. Some of the patrons of that sorely needed hip-hop party are rallying the troops to recapture that same energy at the same spot. Society Thursdays kicks off tonight at Chief Ike's with local hip-hop vet and WPFW host DJ RBI at the helm, along with DJ El Ninyo.

We bet we can sell you on tonight's featured movie at the Library of Congress with one sentence. Ready? "Martin Scorsese is the editor behind 'Unholy Rollers,' a 1972 film that stars former Playboy Playmate of the year Claudia Jennings as a roller derby newcomer set on revenge against her teammates after they assault her in a bar."

Sometimes -- OK, most of the time -- we focus on bands that are noisy, weird, confrontational or some combination of those three. So for this Friday night we offer up something a lot simpler and straightforward, that may not stretch too many boundaries but will probably leave you satisfied on a weekend evening. Iota hosts the Sketches (listen), who is a band you wouldn't be surprised to hear on Mix 107.3 someday and at the same time wouldn't be surprised if five years from now a weekend gig at Iota was as big as it got for them. It's perfectly competent pop/rock that can get lost in the shuffle, but should serve its purpose just fine at Iota on Friday night. The Hatch and Alfonso Velez open.

Across town at the Rock and Roll Hotel is a four-band bill headlined by Telograph. Nobody will ever confuse them for being the most prolific band -- a recent album was mostly re-recorded versions of older songs -- but if you like sweeping Brit-rock inspired anthems with huge choruses ... well, you're probably already a fan. Red Romance, the A-Sides and Len Bias open.

The Alliance Francaise de Washington event calendar is one of the best solutions to those looking to get out of a social rut, meet new people and get a cultural fix. You don't even have to be a student of the French language to partake, but of course it helps. Film, discussions, dance parties and musical performances are all on the menu, and tonight's Gino Sitson (listen) performance is an standout example of that last category. The easiest shorthand description is that he's a West African Bobby McFerrin, performing jazz improvisation without instruments and using non-Western vocal techniques. To experience this Cameroonian jazz vocalist in an intimate environment is a treat, because he's packed Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. And even better, the cost for this privilege goes directly to the Alliance's outreach program that brings cultural events in D.C. public schools.

Friday, April 25
The Front Page's Mustache and Miniskirt party -- the M&M party -- is exactly what it sounds like: A night celebrating guys with outrageous facial hair and women wearing short skirts. Both customers and staff have been growing out their mustaches for the fourth annual event, though organizers say you can wear a fake one as long as it looks cool. Entertainment comes from an '80s cover band and DJs spinning retro favorites and pop music later in the evening. The best mustaches and miniskirts win D.C. United tickets and restaurant gift certificates, but there's no cover to throw down, regardless of the state of your legs and/or upper lip. Word of warning: There was a long line last year. The Front Page's staff advises you should make your way to Ballston by 9:30 or 10 if you don't want to wait outside.

Lord knows we'd love nothing more than to see the entire Wu Tang Clan kicking it Tiger Style on the stage at Love tonight. The RZA, the GZA, Method Man, Raekwon, Inspectah Deck and U-God all showed up at the Virgin Festival last year, but that's a rare feat. (Seriously; Fritz saw a "Wu Tang Clan" concert in London one year where only Meth and Rae showed up.) We'll put the over-under of full Wu members actually in the club at 4. In a case like this, you have to dwell on what could be and hope for the best, which means lots of classic material (solo and group) and less from "8 Diagrams." Tickets are $20 from

We love nothing more than shaking our rumps to classic funk and soul, and the Fatback night at U Street's oft-overlooked Dahlak restaurant offers classic R&B, Philly soul and greasy boogaloo once a month. Get your free helping tonight from 10 to 3, and just see if you can stay off the dance floor.

Saturday, April 26
Celebrate South Africa Freedom day at Zanzibar tonight with Goapele (listen). The California songstress followed a path of warmth and positivity with her two albums "Closer" and "Change It All," becoming a favorite with neo-soulsters. A descendent of a South African political exile, she shares more than just a love of honest music with her South African co-headliners Mahala (listen), a duo founded by former Lucky Dube guitarist Mongezi "Chris" Ntaka. Also on the bill is Daddy Saj (listen), whose convictions were pushed to the extreme when he was imprisoned in Sierra Leone for penning an anti-corruption anthem.

If there's one thing you can say about your Nightlife Agenda authors, it's that we love to go out and have a good time -- especially if we can help a charity in the process. You've got a number of chances this week, and the only disappointment to us is having to choose between these fantastic fundraisers.

The Cap City Spring Bar Tour, the granddaddy of organized downtown bar tours, takes over 13 bars in the Farragut corridor, including Mackey's Public House, Porter's, the Black Rooster, the Front Page, Madhatter and Steve's Bar Room. No matter where you go, $2 Miller Lite bottles, $3 Miller Chill bottles and $3.50 Sparks drinks await, as well as various food specials. The crawl begins at 1 at Mackey's, and specials run until 9. There are afterparties at Steve's and Penang from 9 on, including discounted drinks until midnight. Admission is $13, or $10 if you bring two cans of food for the Manna Food Center.

"Mullets, legwarmers and neon spandex" is the suggested attire for an '80s party benefitting the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society at the Hawk and Dove. A $10 donation is good for admission, free appetizers and drink specials ($2.50 rail drinks, $3 bottled beers, $3.50 pints of the smashingly summery Bells Oberon wheat ale). The party runs from 7 to midnight at the Hawk's rear Alley Bar.

The Pug's Saturday night fundraiser for the Whitman-Walker Clinic is much more low-key: Show up between 7 and 9, pay $10 and get all the rail drinks or draft beer you want. (The Pug's taps currently boast Hoegaarden, Red Hook ESB and Bare Knuckle Stout.) That's it. Chat with the bartenders or other patrons, listen to the punk and Irish music coming from owner Tony Tomelden's laptop, play a game or two of Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em Robots, and help the less-fortunate get access to medical care.

Last but not least, the Young Professionals group of the ALS Association is hosting a charity event at Caddies on Cordell in Bethesda from 9 to 2. Admission is $30, and it includes all food and drinks until 11 p.m. Local band Seven Car Pile-Up performs. Raffle prizes -- also going to help fight ALS, or Lou Gehrig's disease -- include Nationals tickets and gift certificates to local restaurants. Advance tickets are available from

As David said in his SXSW report, do not be late for a Jay Reatard show. You just might miss the whole thing. Since he's headlining at the Black Cat on Saturday, you'll probably make it to the club in plenty of time. But if you go downstairs to the Red Room after Cheap Time plays, don't dally. David saw Jay (I just can't refer to him by his unfortunately chosen stage name) play thrice in Austin and the total performance time was 52 minutes. He promised he had a 40-minute set planned for this spring headlining tour, so that should be enough time to give us about 20 songs of double-Flying-V punk rock awesomeness. The lightning speed at which Jay and his band play their songs in a live setting very much obscures his sharp pop acumen, but the hooks are there, barbed as they might be.

What the heck? It's been a few months since we last wrote about mechanical bull riding in D.C., but it's time for the bucker to return to McFadden's, and since you can't do any worse than Fritz did -- no, seriously, you can't -- you might as well give it a shot. There's an optional $20 open bar from 8 to 11 if you need Dutch courage.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | April 22, 2008; 5:50 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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Are some of the Friday events posted under the wrong day? I'm confused..

Posted by: Rob | April 25, 2008 9:59 AM | Report abuse

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