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Posted at 6:54 PM ET, 11/24/2009

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Premier party band Chopteeth brings the Afrofunk -- and a dozen members -- to the Black Cat on Saturday night. (C.L. Kunst -- Clicks Photography)

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Tuesday

How busy is this week? We've got a dozen options for you on Wednesday night alone, which include open-bar parties with hip-hop and electro DJs, a special edition of the Glow dance night with superstar DJ Paul van Dyk, live go-go from Chuck Brown, a party hosted (and allegedly featuring a live performance by) R. Kelly, cover bands in Clarendon, and a lounge serving sushi rolls along with the beats. Then you move on to a weekend with Afrobeat, conscious reggae, classic hip-hop, a record release party at Bliss and a Black Friday bar crawl.

Wednesday, Nov. 25
The night before Thanksgiving is one of the best party nights of the year. Nightclubs know that people have old friends in town for the holiday and the next day off, so they pull out all the stops. Take Lux Lounge, for example: The club is celebrating a year in business and promising a "live performance" by the one-and-only R. Kelly. It certainly won't be on the level of his 8 p.m. concert Wednesday night at Constitution Hall, but hey - the intimate four-level club has bottle service and multiple dance floors. Get in free when you print out a pass from www.dejadirect.com or get on the list through www.tazevents.com. Just make sure you arrive early to beat what we expect to be long lines.

For 17 years, the Positive Black Men Coalition has proclaimed the night before Thanksgiving the "Night of Elegance," an occasion for a dressy party with bands and DJs. This year's event once again features Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown and a strong supporting cast of R&B and old-school go-go bands, including Suttle Thoughts, L!ssen and Be'la Dona. WPGC's Michel Wright hosts a live radio broadcast from the Hyatt Regency Crystal City's ballroom. As you might expect, you'll need to dress to impress. Tickets are $30 in advance from www.pbmc.net; you'll pay more at the door.

For fans of dance music, Paul van Dyk (listen) needs no introduction. For everyone else, here's a synopsis of the Berlin-born trance DJ's resume: millions of records sold around the world, residencies at some of the world's biggest clubs, two "No. 1 DJ in the World" awards from DJ magazine and eight other top-10 finishes. Van Dyk drops into D.C. several times a year, but this party at Fur should be bigger than usual. We highly recommend purchasing your tickets ($25) in advance from wanttickets.com. He's sold out the club before.

The crowd-pleasing cover band Kristen and the Noise headlines this year's Thanksgiving Throwdown at Clarendon Ballroom with DJ Image spinning downstairs. Long lines are inevitable, as hundreds of Arlingtonians turn out for an atmosphere that's as close to Dewey Beach as you can get on Wilson Boulevard. Tickets start at $5 when doors open at 6 and rise as the night goes on. Bring canned goods for the homeless and exchange each item for a raffle ticket. Prizes include 20 pairs of tickets for next year's St. Patrick's Day ShamrockFest at RFK Stadium.

Fans of the Wizards and the Redskins might want to stay away from the Park at 14th's Thanksgiving Eve party. Sure, there's an open bar from 5 to 7, a free buffet from 6 to 8 and $5 drinks until 11, but it's hosted by Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee and Fred Smoot and ... well, let's just say biting your tongue has to get painful after a while. Right? But really, you should go because McGee -- aka bigdaddywookie -- will be kind enough to step away from Twitter and "Call of Duty" for a few hours to put his focus where it should be -- on throwing a party!

When Free Energy (listen) played at the Black Cat back in August, the five band members walked onto stage looking like they'd just come from a casting call for "Dazed and Confused" the musical. Pretty much sounded like it, too. Apparently the Philadelphia group loves the '70s even more than VH1 and Michael Ian Black. Besides the long hair, flowery shirts and singer Paul Spranger's painted-on jeans, the band took most of its musical cues from the likes of Cheap Trick and Thin Lizzy -- big and bigger power-chord choruses, flashy solos and plenty of handclaps and cowbell. What could have come off like an cheeky pastiche was instead just a great rock show, because songs such as "Dream City" and "Free Energy" (so good they named the band after it) were too irresistibly catchy to spend time wondering if the band was being ironic or not. Catch the good vibes at DC9.

Eyebar's weekly open bar for ladies is being extended to everyone during the Pre-Thanksgiving Bash, which probably means bigger crowds at the bar. Here's the scoop: Free drinks between 9 and 10, free admission before 11 (no passes or RSVP needed), DJ Geometrix spinning dance floor-friendly hip-hop on the first floor and DJ Chris hitting Latin tunes upstairs.

A few blocks away at Lima, the Butterball Bash finds DJs Jose Rodriguez rocking house and Top 40 on the main floor while DJ Tektronics spins hip-hop upstairs. There's no cover all night, and drink specials include $5 Absolut drinks.

The vagabond '80s Dance Party has now taken up residence at its fourth Adams Morgan bar this year -- kind of sad for an event that held down Thursday nights at Heaven and Hell for more than a decade. The latest destination is Saki, where there will be a late-night sushi menu in addition to $4 beers, $5 Absolut drinks and all the cheesy '80s hits you can handle from 9 p.m. on. Try to round up some friends: The $5 cover is waived if you arrive in a group of three or more.

Simon Phoenix of Baltimore's all-conquering Taxlo electronic dance music party is in control at Bee's Knees, a DJ party in the Velvet Lounge's small downstairs bar. Keenan, Jackie O and Andy O join him on the decks. There's a $4 cover, but you do get $2 Natty Bohs and $4 Jameson from 9 to 11.

DJ Damion Daniel -- formerly of WPGC and WKYS as well as XM Radio -- is currently based in Miami, but he makes a return to D.C. tonight for Dancegiving at Current. DJs Ed the Bruce and Sean Infamous are also on the bill. Get on the guest list by emailing hassandc@gmail.com.

Specialty cocktails and brown-rice sushi rolls are on the menu at Mate during an extended happy hour from 7 to 9, followed by music from DJ Seyhan. There's no cover.

Thursday, Nov. 26
To decide where you're going tonight, you might want to start by reading Fritz's post about which bars will be open for after-dinner drinks. Choice picks include DJs at Science Club and the Crossroads, a "Grindhouse" double feature with PBR and Wild Turkey specials at the Palace of Wonders, a canned-food drive at Asylum that lets you trade a can of food for a can of beer, or the low-key scenes at Galaxy Hut, the Black Cat, Duffy's and Tonic. (There's more information, including opening times, in the blog post referenced above.)

Over the past eight years, British studio wizards Henry Binns and Sam Hardaker have assembled a cast of musicians to craft engrossing albums that could be classified as down-tempo electronica, but which buck the constraints of genre. On tour, rather than cryptically fiddle with knobs onstage, Zero 7 (listen) employs a New Age orchestra of sorts to translate the complex productions into epic sonic experiences using computers and effects units as well as the standard guitar/bass/drums/keyboards/horns lineup. On top of that are the powerhouse vocals of Sia Furler and Sophie Barker, the original engine that broke the band into the mainstream. Zero 7 is currently touring with Eska Mtungwazi, a force in her own right in the U.K.'s trad jazz, nu soul and broken beat scenes. Local DJ Christine Moritz opens tonight's show at the 9:30 club.

Soul Baby has been a D.C. institution for at least 10 years. Whether it's been at State of the Union, Chief Ike's, Felix or Eyebar, Soul Baby has held down the folks who stay in town for the holidays and want to bond with their partying friends after the blood relatives have gone to bed. The DJ rotation changes, but it's always a cast of the best of Washington's classic hip-hop and soul spin doctors. DJ Jahsonic of Marvin's Main Ingredient is in the driver's seat for tonight's Soul Baby at Policy.

If you're in the mood for clubbing, don't miss a special set by Sharam (listen) -- of Grammy-winning D.C. DJ duo Deep Dish -- at Ultrabar. Tickets are $20 in advance, and everyone 18 and over is invited to the four-story Penn Quarter spot.

Friday, Nov. 27
While the rest of the world spends the day after Thanksgiving lining up outside the local Wal-Mart to try to score a cheap TV, the smart folks will be kicking back in Bethesda with a couple of beers on the Anti-Mall Crawl. From 2 to 10 p.m., nine bars are offering $2 Coors Lights, $3 Blue Moons and $4 Absolut, Malibu and Jameson mixed drinks, plus food specials and raffles to win gift certificates from neighborhood boutiques. Sign up before 7 p.m. at Union Jack's, then hit places like BlackFinn, Rí Ra and Tommy Joe's. All this non-consumer boozing has an upside: Bring two cans of food to donate to the Manna Food Center and you'll save $3 off admission.

"Home for the Holidays" is the theme at the Park at Fourteenth, but with free hors d'oeuvres and an open bar from 9 to 10, it's one of the cheapest Black Friday deals you'll find. RSVP to park@richmondgrouponline.com for free admission, and arrive early to beat the lines (we saw one around the block last weekend). DJs spin hip-hop and dance music all night.

The Black Cat has an all-DJ lineup tonight on two floors, but they offer very differnet sounds. Upstairs, it's Homo/Sonic, the indie/electro/'80s/new-wave dance party that draws a gay-heavy but mixed audience and has a $10 cover. On the backstage, you've got No Control, the semi-regular night of punk, hardcore and anything else that could start a mosh pit in a room full of teenage boys. It's free.

Saturday, Nov. 28
Chopteeth (listen) isn't unique just for being the city's 12-member Afro-funk big band. It's also one of the best party bands in the area. Its deep horn section, percussion and groove-based sound draw on funk, reggae and soul as much as traditional West African fare. Saturday's show at the Black Cat will find Chopteeth branching out even more as the group welcomes local hip-hop mainstay Head-Roc to the stage. He's one of D.C.'s most consistent and consistently outspoken MCs, and his lyrical edge should serve as a nice contrast to Chopteeth's warm and inviting rhythms.

Over the last few years, a number of local DJs have gone from being the guys who spin dance tunes to the guys who make the dance tunes. Singles by Tittsworth, Dave Nada, Nadastrom and Fort Knox Five have hit the iTunes and Beatport charts, continuing a proud tradition of D.C. DJs that includes Deep Dish and Thievery Corporation. The latest remixer-turned-creator is Will Eastman of Bliss, whose single "Feelin'" comes out on New York's Plant Music in December. It's a monster of a disco-funk tune with pounding synths on the breakdowns and house-y keyboards -- just the kind of thing to get the dance floor at the Black Cat moving tonight at the single's release party. DJ Christine Moritz and Boston synth-pop trioYes Giantess (listen) open the all-ages event, and you can grab a Yes Giantess preview mix from the Bliss Web site.

With a soulful rootsy reggae sound and conscious rastafari lyrics, Queen Ifrica (listen) is one of the more interesting singers coming out of Jamaica. Her musical talent shouldn't be a surprise -- her father is the '60s rocksteady and ska pioneer Derrick Morgan -- but songs like "Rise Ghetto Youths Rise" and the anti-teen-sex "No Bwoy" have strong messages to go with their grooves. Queen Ifrica is joined at the Crossroads by '90s ragga DJ and singer Tony Rebel (listen), who has plenty of postitive vibes in his own tunes. Tickets are $25 in advance from the Crossroads and $30 at the door.

Saturday Soul Sessions was one of the best secrets in Washington for house fans before it went on hiatus this year. The upstairs room at Almaz has a perfect wood floor and the proper feng shui so dancers can cut loose; the space that feels more like a private residence than a club. S3 returns tonight with resident Louis P. on the mix and Tom P. (no relation) on percussion. A post-Black Friday fiscal reprieve is in effect via free admission.

Tuesday, Dec. 1
Power in numbers seems to be the motto for Spelling for Bees (listen). The new D.C. collective says it boasts 40-plus members, but you won't see any sort of Polyphonic Spree-type performance at the Velvet Lounge tonight. The group's monthly first-Tuesday residency is more themed open-mic than anything else; various local musicians get up on stage and play a song. Last month everyone played Radiohead songs, and this month it's guilty pleasures. Same difference, right? All varieties of instruments and performances will be present, and since there are so many people, it's hard to know exactly what to expect, but if you've ever wanted to hear a Casio + cello version of Roxette's "Look Sharp," this might be your best chance.

With every blogger (aka everyone but your grandmother) listing the top albums of the decades these last few months, it's made people reconsider Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. The band was one of the original blog-darlings-turned-hype-victims, riding a wave of buzz off a self-released album to instant-indie-superstar status. This was all the way back in 2005, before this sort of thing happened every week to every band in Brooklyn. CYHSY's jittery songs and singer Alec Ounsworth's (listen) wobbly warble created a distinct sound, and soon the band was selling out the 9:30 club. But the cycle must complete itself: backlash hit when people complained the band's live performance was undercooked, as if the band was really to blame for taking advantage of its newfound, if perhaps too-soon success and selling out big venues. Soon backlash gave way to indifference, and everyone moved on to Grizzly Bear and Dirty Projectors. But now Ounsworth is back with a solo album that can start the process anew. He's playing tonight and Dec. 7 in a mini-residency at DC9.

-- Fritz Hahn, David Malitz and Rhome Anderson

By Fritz Hahn  | November 24, 2009; 6:54 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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