This week, you can celebrate Cinco de Mayo, spend Saturday night dancing to Madonna, listen to some up-and-coming local hip-hop and R&B stars, play a round of mini-golf at nine downtown bars or spend Sunday afternoon pogoing to punk rock at the U Street Music Hall.
A Taco Eating Contest at Asylum with a $100 prize for the person who can scarf down the most tacos in three minutes.
A selection of designer margaritas (ranging from traditional to hibiscus) for $5 a pop at Masa 14, plus special tequila flights.
The extended Mexican beer garden at Austin Grill in Silver Spring with live mariachi music, drink specials and a chips-and-salsa eating contest.
A respite from mariachi music with live rock en espanol by two of the city's finest Spanish-language bands, Nayas and Machetres.
And finally, a tossup between all-day happy hours at Ceiba ($5 margaritas and plates of Mexican street food) and McFadden's ($2 Coronas and $3 Jose Cuervo tequila shots). The former will be more professional, the latter will be younger and crazier.
Okay, stepping away from tequila and tacos.
Here's an event that Arlingtonians look forward to all winter: The grand opening of the Clarendon Ballroom's rooftop deck for Wednesday happy hours. Weather or Not Wednesdays -- a play on the variable nature of the outdoor-only event -- feature drink specials from 5 to 8 p.m., including $1.50 domestic bottles of beer, $3 glasses of wine, $4 house cocktails and $5 appetizers. The spacious deck -- about 2,000 square feet -- attracts hundreds of 20- and 30-somethings for lazy Wednesday evenings. A bonus: The bar has decided to dump the longstanding $1 cover charge for 2010, and admission is free.
The DC hip-hop scene is crowded and sometimes rancorous as many hopeful artists jockey for position. Therefore, it's a good thing whenever the city's rap talent comes together in fellowship, especially when they reach across eras and styles. Hustlepalooza features a wide array of masters of ceremony rocking at Liv, from RATheMC's club- and battle-ready flows to Kingpen Slim's street anthems. Of note is Raheem Devaughn's young protege Phil Adé who just released a fun, classy clip for "Always There" that revisits the best elements of The Root's "Silent Treatment" and LL's "Around The Way Girl."
Thursday, May 6
Lounge of Three has served as the Cheers for DC's traditional hip-hop set, so it's fitting that this month's First Fridays happy hour is the Gang Starr Edition. In April, hip-hop lost its smoothest voice and one half of the legendary duo Gang Starr when Keith "Guru" Elam passed away after a battle with cancer. If you've only been reliving the memories of his music on your iPod, you'll feel better if you share those memories in a social setting. Resident DJ Nick Tha 1da will be spinning Gang Starr, DJ Premier and Guru's solo material all night from 9 p.m. onward. The happy hour specials and buffet start at 5 p.m. and the board games and playing cards complete the experience of kicking it with your crew to a classic hip-hop soundtrack.
It's beginning to look like Dodge City, the new bar next door to the Velvet Lounge in the old Kingpin space, will be yet another U Street spot offering fine DJ talent. Tonight marks the first installment of Echo, an event curated by Sean Peoples of the wonderfully diverse local label Sockets Records. The label's spring mix features songs by Baltimore hip-hop group Rap Dragons, local indie rock group True Womanhood and experimental dream-pop group Canopy so you can expect a variety of sounds, although for now it promises to focus on "dub, dancehall, cosmic boogie, dubstep, minimal house and jazz breaks." You know, just that.
It's really hard to turn down free drinks these days, so when we got an e-mail asking if we'd like two free draft beers at H Street Country Club, we were intrigued. The happy hour is sponsored by United Social Sports (the guys behind those new skee-ball leagues at the Iron Horse Tap Room and, yes, H Street Country Club, among others) and So What's the Deal, which is another of those ubiquitous deal sites offering 50 percent off your sandwiches or Shawarma Spot or 60 percent off the tab at Velocity Five. Just RSVP for the party and you'll get two free drinks tonight between 6 and 8. (Note: You'll be added to the So What's the Deal e-mail list, but you can always opt out.)
Friday, May 7
"The Battle of the Post-Punk DJ Nights" is a name that sounds more violent than it promises to be, but you never know when you get a bunch of hyper-aware record collectors in the same place and the Belgian beer flowing. "No, the Liquid Liquid rarity that I played was much more obscure than the one you played! Want to fight?!" The DJs of Velodrome and We Fought the Big One will take turns spinning off-kilter, spazzy, sonic weirdness at Marx Cafe.
Teenagers aren't the only ones getting ready for prom this season -- there are ample chances to attend themed proms that benefit charity. (Sometimes we think the prom theme is waaaay too ubiquitous, but as long as it's for a good cause, we really shouldn't complain.) This weekend's example: Planned Parenthood's Young Professionals are hosting their own '80s Prom with an open bar and a DJ spinning the ideal MTV soundtrack, from Culture Club to Modern English to the Go-Gos. Tickets are $40, and include an open bar from 8 to 11. Get tickets from the Planned Parenthood Web site by Thursday afternoon to avoid a price hike.
Saturday, May 8
The biggest party of summer 2009 was Summer Camp, the weekly pool party thrown by the hipsterer-9than-thou Brightest Young Things posse at the Capitol Skyline Hotel. Diverse crowds of 20- and 30-somethings came out to lounge on deck chairs, check out live bands, dance to DJs and spend plenty of quality time in the massive pool. This year, the crew is dialing back and hosting the events "sporadically." Your first chance to show off your new bathing suit is Saturday, when the belated Cinco de Mayo party, "The Ocho," features multiple DJs (including the Fatback DJs and Will Eastman of Bliss), a mariachi band, a nacho-eating contest, special margaritas created by D.C. bartenders and other craziness. Tickets for the all-ages event are $15; BYO towels and get there early to claim the best seats.
Since 1995, D.C. clubgoers have been expressing their love for Madonna (and expressing themselves) at Madonnarama, an annual party that pays homage to the Material Girl all night long. DJs spin three decades of hits and remixes, and videos play on large screens. The crowd's outfits run the gamut: Madonna-9inspired costumes (everything from cowboy hats to "Like a Virgin" T-shirts) here, shirtless men there, all vogueing and shimmying until the wee hours. The party has moved a few times over the years, but it's current at Town Danceboutique. The good times get underway with a drag show at 10:30 p.m., then DJ Ed Bailey is on the decks until 4 a.m.
When YahZarah finally gets music industry accolades as a "new" artist, those of us who have been following her career will applaud, then shake our heads at the omission of years of quality work out of the public eye. This Washington native paid her dues performing with Erykah Badu, then released three solo albums that showed off her diva-quality voice. In college, YahZarah crossed paths with rapping vocalist Phonte Coleman, and their creative partnership is now maturing after a long development period. YahZarah contributed vocals to Coleman's Grammy-nominated Foreign Exchange project, and now they have crafted her most anticipated work to date, "The Ballad of Purple St. James." The coming-out party for this album at Bohemian Caverns also features extended Little Brother/Foreign Exchange family member Darien Brockington.
It's kind of sad that schools that help at-risk D.C. teenagers need to have non-profit groups host fundraisers for them, but in this current economic climate, we're glad they do. The See Forever Foundation, which operates the Maya Angelou Public Charter School and several other campuses, is the beneficiary of this weekend's See Forever Masquerade Ball at the Long View Gallery, which features an open bar, food and a performance by Chester French (listen), the Straight Outta Harvard frat-rock band that has cut tracks like "Ciroc Star" with Diddy, "I'm So Tall" with Talib Kweli and Bun B, and "Campus Kingpin" with the Clipse. Tickets are $75 per person in advance from the See Forever Web site. Masks and "classy cocktail attire" are requested.
Think H Street Country Club is the only D.C. bar with mini-golf? Not on Saturday afternoon. The Cap City Bar Golf Open features putting greens at nine downtown bars, including Public Bar, Buffalo Billiards, the Black Rooster and the Sign of the Whale. Singles and foursomes visit all nine "holes," play a round and get their scorecards signed in the hopes of winning prizes for low scores. But at the same time, there are numerous drink specials on beer and cocktails along the way, so if you're looking for an off-beat way to spend an afternoon with your golf-loving pals, this is it. Space is limited, so it's advance registration is suggested.
Sunday, May 9
In just a couple of months U Street Music Hall has made itself a favorite spot for dance-music lovers who want every fiber of their being to be rattled by bass. Now it's looking to fill another niche - matinee punk-rock spot. During D.C.'s peak punk era a couple of decades ago, weekend afternoon shows featuring lineups of fast and loud bands were common. Salad Days is an attempt to re-create that, with a bit of a twist. John Stabb of punk originals Government Issue will serve as host while DJs Dave Nada, Stereo Faith and Denman will spin slam-dancing tunes. Live music will be provided by Baltimore's the Death Set, who play an iPod-party-punk-hip-hop hybrid that always results in manic pogoing. Best of all, the throwback event has a throwback price - $5.
Tuesday, May 11
We really try to rein in our excitement when the reunion/old-time acts come to town, especially when the whole "play an entire album" gimmick is involved. It's just so ... impure. But then you see that it's the Buzzcocks - U.K. punk originals, basically the creators and still reigning champions of power pop. And when they visit the Black Cat they'll be playing their first two albums ("Another Music In a Different Kitchen" and "Love Bites") so you know you'll get to hear "Fast Cars," "You Tear Me Up," "Just Lust" and especially "Ever Fallen In Love (with Someone You Shouldn't've)" and it's hard not to get a little pumped.
Happy anniversary to Duffy's Irish Pub, which is throwing open its doors for a big birthday celebration: Free buffalo wings (while they last), free T-shirts (ditto), $2 tall boys of PBR, High Life and Budweiser, $4 pints of Guinness and Killkenny, $10 draft pitchers and "lots of free swag" from Guinness and other brewing companies if you collect that sort of stuff. The party's from 5 to 10, and if you've never checked out the cozy neighborhood spot, this is a great excuse to visit. You might even discover a new favorite pre-9:30 Club happy hour destination.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
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