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Posted at 5:55 PM ET, 06/30/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Make a splash at a holiday weekend pool party. (Dakota Fine/dakotafine.com)

The Fourth of July means a long weekend with plenty of pool parties and late-night throwdowns, but we also have Michael Jackson tributes, stellar lineups of globetrotting DJs, go-go bands and an appearance by Jay Reatard. And hey, if you couldn't get Sonic Youth tickets, the Velvet Lounge offers the next-best thing: a lineup of "noisy, out-there" artists, including a member of Animal Collective.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday

| Tuesday

Wednesday, July 1
As innovative as Michael Jackson's music was, he probably had more influence in the world of music videos, where "Thriller," "Remember the Time" and "Smooth Criminal" turned mere promo clips into works of art. Tonight at Tattoo's weekly Polyester '80s night, the VJ will be spinning Jackson's hits while the videos play on the club's large TVs. (Will there be more people watching than dancing?) The evening starts with a full hour of open bar, giving you ample time to toast Michael's memory.

Public Bar, the loft-style sports bar that replaced Five a few months ago on 18th Street NW, is finally getting in gear with the opening of its rooftop deck. You can check the space out tonight at a benefit for Becky's Fund, a nonprofit that raises awareness about domestic violence and offers support for victims. A $20 donation gets you an open bar from 6:30 to 8, plus a ticket (worth $10) for Friday's Nationals-Braves game.

Thursday, July 2
Michael Jackson's sudden death last Thursday took everyone by shock, not least the organizers of the long-running weekly '80s Dance Party, who didn't have time to plan a proper memorial to a man whose music has been a mainstay of the '80s night for the last 15 years. Expect a tribute to the King of Pop tonight as part of the annual "Kids in America" Independence Day party, the one night of the year when Duran Duran, George Michael and Depeche Mode are banished from the speakers in favor of an all-American playlist. The $5 cover includes a free Bacardi shot, and selected drinks are $3 until 11.

It wouldn't be the day before a long holiday weekend if Lindy Promotions weren't trying to lure you out of your office and into downtown bars. Tonight's Midtown Liberty Bar Tour is what you've come to expect: You can hop between 12 downtown watering holes, starting with Mackey's at 5 p.m., and get your pick of $2 and $3 beers and various food specials until midnight. This is a solid option for groups of friends or singles who are looking to meet new people. Tickets are $13, but it's $10 if you bring two cans of food, which will be donated to the local charity Manna Food Center.

With so many uncertainties in our world right now, so many trusted institutions that can't be counted on, it's nice to know that when you have an extra day off of work, you can get an extended happy hour with a buffet and a go-go jam that cranks into the wee hours. Our godfather Chuck Brown will be at Zanzibar with a full docket of grown folks go-go acts, including Familiar Faces and Lissen Band. Hit http://www.matureclientele.com for the discounts.

Since the early '90s, DJ Hype (listen) has been at the forefront of the drum'n'bass scene, whether running his label Ganja, spinning the latest hits on London's Kiss 100 FM, or mixing some of the genre's best-known compilations. He's dropped two Fabric mixes, one CD for the well-respected Drum & Bass Arena series, and most recently, a three-disc retrospective called "DJ Hype Presents Drum and Bass Essentials" for Rhino Records. Through it all, he hasn't lost sight of the floor-filling breakbeats, driving bass and hands-in-the-air samples that made him a star in the first place. Hype's appearing at Ibiza tonight with MC Daddy Earl and a host of up-and-comers.

Tonight's Aerialist (listen) gig at Fort Reno offers a couple of rare opportunities. The first is to see Aerialist, the local duo that doesn't play around too often, mainly because band members Lary Hoffman and Nikhil Ranade are busy making sure your beer tastes good and your concerts sound good, respectively. (Hoffman owns Galaxy Hut and Ranade runs sound at the Black Cat.) It's also rare to actually see those two outdoors. Like, around grass and trees. And not behind a bar or soundboard. It could be a bit disconcerting actually. But Aerialist's surging, organ-driven songs are so inviting, you should be fine. Caverns (listen), who play slashing, rhythmic post-punk, are also on the bill, along with the Eubonics.

Middle Distance Runner (listen) is playing at the State Theatre tonight. If the local group were ever to bust out its Belle & Sebastian cover set (there's a B&S song called "The Loneliness of the Middle Distance Runner") then this would be its big chance: at a venue that will be hosting the Legwarmers, the Machine (Pink Floyd), Frontiers (Journey), Satisfaction (duh) and Appetite for Destruction (duh, again) over the next month. More likely MDR will focus on songs from its upcoming album. But when that album will be released is still up in the air; Middle Distance Runner is still trying to find a label to distribute the follow-up to its first album, 2006's "Plane in Flames." That batch of anthemic pop-rock made MDR local favorites. After spending some time under the radar when they were making lineup changes, the group is recharged and back to reclaim its spot as one of the city's best and most popular rock bands.

Friday, July 3
When it comes to parties with bangin' dance music, we're having trouble thinking of one that can top tonight's D.C. Summer Extravaganza at the 9:30 club. The fact that it's showcasing all local DJs is only the icing on the cake. Tittsworth (listen) and Nadastrom (listen) have already been globetrotting this year, showing crowds from London to Hong Kong how D.C. gets down with bouncy, hands-in-the-air electro, house and Baltimore Club tracks. Add hometown regular Will Eastman (listen), drum'n'bass vets Bobby Jae and Ken Lazee (listen) and quirky electro duo Dmerit (Outputmessage and Micah Vellian) (listen), and you've got what could be the DJ show of the year so far. Tickets are just $10 for the all-night, all-ages show. Doors open at 9.

We've written about Moneytown a number of times in the last 12 months -- it remains one of our favorite places to get a fix of greasy funk, uptempo soul and R&B that will have you on the dance floor before you know where your feet are going. DJ Nitekrawler specializes in music by bands that you've probably never heard before, but in his hands, you and the beat are old friends. (Listen to sample mixtapes on his Web page.) Tonight's Moneytown's one-year anniversary party, and to celebrate, there will be drink specials and a guest appearance by Chris "Iceburg" Burgan, a Cincinnati-based DJ who has compiled CDs of vintage soul from his hometown and even curated museum exhibits about the music. We can't wait to hear what he's got up his sleeve. As always, admission at Dahlak is free.

During the golden age of hip-hop, a few forward-thinking iconoclastic hip-hop artists loosely gelled together under the mantle of the Native Tongues. The original core -- De La Soul, A Tribe Called Quest and The Jungle Brothers -- shared ties from junior high school and tutelage from rap luminaries like Kool DJ Red Alert. Making frequent appearances on each other's records, these groups cultivated a fun-loving family vibe epitomized in hits like "Buddy" and "Roller Skating Jam Called Saturdays." The extended Native Tongues family also included Monie Love, Queen Latifah and Black Sheep, and it molded an entire generation of hip-hop listeners. DJ 2 Tone Jones and DJ Roddy Rod rock solely from the Native Tongues catalog tonight at Almaz.

Friday is a federal holiday, and what better way to celebrate a day off than lounging around a pool in your favorite swimwear? At the Capitol Skyline's day-long Adult Swim pool party, enjoy food and drink specials and win prizes in the belly flop contest. Gates open at noon and close at 8; tickets are $5 in advance and $10 at the door.

Saturday, July 4
On the Fourth of July, you can spend hours fighting for a spot on the Mall among the tourists and families, or you can hit a party. We know what we'd rather do.

The Brightest Young Things weekly Summer Camp Pool Party is taking "Fat Camp" as its theme, with eating contests, physical challenges, bacon-flavored treats and a "Truffle Shuffle" dance contest. The Fatback DJs spin funk, soul and hip-hop. It's $10 for a whole day of fun, plus drinks for $5 or less. Doors at the Capitol Skyline Hotel open at noon. (Need help with your Truffle Shuffle? Watch the clip below.)

Clarendon Ballroom has been the site of the annual FreedomFest for several years, but today the party moves over to Public Bar. Don't worry, though -- it will all seem very familiar. There's a rooftop party and an indoor dance floor, and Clarendon Ballroom regular Pat Premier will provide the soundtrack of hip-hop and current dance favorites. The cover charge starts at $5 "early" and rises throughout the night.

Speaking of moving locations, the annual Party on the Potomac at Cantina Marina has moved further inland this year, winding up at the Bullpen, the open-air bar across from Nationals Park. Despite the landlocked location, organizers are still keeping the big draws intact: Live music from Dewey favorites Jimi Smooth and HitTime, '80s cover band Judo Chop and rockers Slim Pickins, and an all-day open bar. Drinks start flowing at 3:30 and go until midnight. Advance tickets are $75 for women and $85 for men. There's no official dress code, but the preppy crowd tends to favor red, white and blue sundresses or polos.

The monthly Mixtape party is temporarily being evicted from the Warehouse Theater by the Capital Fringe Festival, so this weekend's holiday party moves to the Rock and Roll Hotel. DJs Matt Bailer and Shea Van Horn (listen) bring their mix of indie rock, electro, '80s and house remixes (and their predominantly gay clientele) to the main floor, while the upstairs is the domain of the remix maniacs of Autorock (listen), whose Mass Appeal night rips through crowd-pleasing mashups, tweaked pop tunes, indie and electro. There's a $5 cover if you want to go to Mixtape and Mass Appeal; admission to Mass Appeal alone is free.

Sunday, July 5
This has been the summer of pool parties in D.C.: Those flashy bashes at the Capitol Skyline hotel, the return of events on the Embassy Row Hilton's rooftop and the hush-hush Facebook-invite-only happy hours on the roof of the Donovan House overlooking Thomas Circle. Now we can add another one to the mix: The weekly Adult Swim at the Liaison hotel on Capitol Hill kicks off today. As at most of the others, you can chill on a lounge chair and listen to DJs, but you're also invited to bring a swimsuit and dive in when you need to cool off. What sets this party apart? Bottle service at tables around the pool. (That should tell you the crowd the organizers are going for.) Fritz has been to the hotel's rooftop pool a couple of times for unrelated events, and while it's not huge, it should be a good size for spending a Sunday afternoon in the sun. Bonus: Admission is free from 1 to 3 when you RSVP.

Jay Reatard (listen) is always going to be seen as somewhat juvenile thanks to the stage name he chose for himself (when he was a teenager, mind you) and because many people first came to know him when he punched a concertgoer in the face and someone caught it on video and it became a YouTube favorite. But he's emerged as one of the best songwriters in the realm of indie rock: he has more hooks than bands that try to pass themselves off as pop and more attitude and snarl than bands that try to pass themselves off as punk. His live shows will always lean toward to the latter part of that equation, though. Expect flying V guitars, flying hair and more adrenaline than John Travolta used on Uma Thurman from that scene in "Pulp Fiction." TV Smith of original punks the Adverts opens at the Black Cat.

Monday, July 6
Missed out on tickets to Monday and Tuesday's sold-out Sonic Youth shows? The next best thing will be to spend many hours at the Velvet Lounge on Monday for the Sonic Youth pre- and post-party. There will be two floors worth of noisy, out-there music. The free downstairs show features a handful of DJs, including Brian Weitz a k a Geologist of Animal Collective. (Remember them? They were totally your favorite band before you became all obsessed with Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors.) The dudes behind the DNA Test Fest will also be spinning some tunes; if you're lucky, they'll have some Taco Leg with them. Upstairs it will be a noise-psych-drone fest. Kohoutek is well known to any regulars of the Velvet; the band's improvised sets always feature some massive crescendos. Chicago's Locrian (listen) sounds like a Sonic Youth side project -- droning, evil soundscapes with grating guitars and dark electronics. Experimental pop band Our Brother the Native (listen) and Religious Girls (listen) round out the ambitious bill.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | June 30, 2009; 5:55 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Music  
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