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Posted at 11:54 AM ET, 09/12/2009

Free and Easy Events

By Fritz Hahn

Every week, the Going Out Gurus suggest ways to enjoy Washington's cultural scene without spending any money. Have an idea for us? Send it to

Grandparents Day at the National Zoo
Here's the perfect excuse for Grandma and Grandpa to visit with the kids: This event features a full morning of special animal feedings and demonstrations and a shuttle that runs through the zoo. For $4.95, add a pancake breakfast.

"The Tale of Shuten Doji" at the Sackler Gallery
The ancient tale of a battle between a noble samurai and a horned, blood-drinking monster plays out across 70-foot handscrolls, folding screens, fans and wood-block prints.

"above under inbetween" at the Embassy of Austria
Austrian choreographer Willi Dorner is known for his unusual techniques -- his "Bodies in Urban Spaces" involved dancers cramming into spaces in alleys or under walkways in public places. He's also known for creating modern pieces for the Vienna State Opera Ballet. His latest work, "above under inbetween," had its premiere in Linz in July, with music by experimental composer Bernhard Lang. See the new piece for yourself at the Austrian Cultural Forum; RSVP by 4 p.m. Tuesday.

Local Wednesdays at Local 16
Local 16 has a great rooftop deck, but the inevitable weekend crush means you can't enjoy the outdoor space as much as you should. Instead of fighting the crowds, drop by midweek for Local Wednesdays, where DJ Chris Burns and guests spin dance tunes from 6 to close, and beer specials run until 9 p.m.

"From the Barber of Seville to Guglielmo Tell" at the Embassy of Italy
Maestro Michele Mariotti, a prizewinning Italian conductor, takes time out from directing the Washington Opera's production of "The Barber of Seville" to discuss the operas of Italian composer Gioacchino Rossini. Joining him will be Monica Lapenta, the publisher of the Paramica opera books for children. RSVPs are required -- e-mail or call 202-518-0998, Ext. 1.

"Burning the Capitol" at the Library of Congress
When the British burned the Capitol building during the August 1814 invasion of Washington, they destroyed the fledgling Library of Congress. (The collection was replaced the next year with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson's entire library.) Mark Dimunation, chief of the library's Rare Book and Special Collections Division, discusses the burning of the Capitol and the acquisition of the new library in a special lunchtime talk.

Buck Hill and smalltrio at the New Deal Cafe
Tenor saxophonist Buck Hill, Washington's "Wailin' Mailman," is into his 80s, but he can still blow audiences away with his soulful, expressive playing on ballads or bop standards. It's easy to see why he's played with such greats as Dizzy Gillespie and Shirley Horn.

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | September 12, 2009; 11:54 AM ET
Categories:  Events, Free and Cheap  
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