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Posted at 5:50 PM ET, 05/11/2010

Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn

Laura Marling is only 20 years old, but her world-weary voice and well-crafted songs seem to belong to someone decades older. (Deirdre O'Callagan)

This week, play skeeball with the Going Out Gurus, have a beer with a ballerina, say farewell to Little Brother, hit a tiki party for charity, hear some of D.C.'s best rock bands at a fundraiser, dance to records selected by the DJ behind Hercules and Love Affair, flash back to the '90s (from go-go to hip-hop) with champagne in hand or get down to the fresh sounds of moombahton.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Sunday | Monday

Wednesday, May 12
Let's face it: Ballet has a bit of an image problem. Dancers in tutus, crowds in fancy eveningwear. It all seems a bit old-fashioned and stuffy. Unless, that is, you're talking about the Washington Ballet's "Beer and Ballet" events, which offer a behind-the-scenes look at a rehearsal followed by happy hour with the dancers. Expect an up-close-and-personal run-through of the upcoming "Genius 3," which features works by George Balanchine, Twyla Tharp and Mark Morris, with company members performing in T-shirts and sweats instead of costumes. Afterward, everyone retires to the lovely little patio outside the ballet's Northwest Washington studio for beers and snacks (provided by Whole Foods). It's a treat for ballet fans, but it's also an easy way for neophytes to admire the work and physical strength that goes into the dance.

WKYS DJ Alizay promises everything from Gang Starr to Mark Morrison at his Takin' It Back '90s party at Napoleon. A slate of area jocks also including DJ Polo and Jerome Baker III intend to serve up an open format of everything '90s, from go-go to soul and dance. They're sweetening the deal with happy hour of $5 champagne cocktails in the basement lounge between 9 and 10 p.m.

Remember when screwed and chopped remixes were huge a decade ago? The days of Paul Wall slowing Southern hip-hop to a crawl may be over, but here in D.C., DJ Dave Nada's giving rise to a whole new genre of dance music called moombahton. (It's pronounced moom-bah-tone.) The backstory: One day at his cousin's high school skip party, Nada slowed down banging house tracks by Afrojack and Sidney Samson to match the 108-beats-a-minute pace of reggaeton. The pitched-down tracks still keep the rave vibe, thanks to thick, chunky bass beats, but the pace of dancing is far easier. (In fact, the rhythms are more fun for dancing than the reggaeton.) You can hear and download Nada's original Moombahton mixtape here, and he's just released a new one called "Punk Rock Latino," which is also available for download. Grab those tracks, then head out to hear Nada spin at the Punk Rock Latino release party at Velvet Lounge, where he'll be mixing moombahton into reggaeton, cumbria and other Caribbean dance grooves. There's no cover all night.

Thursday, May 13
We love skeeball here at Guru Central. Loooove it. We also love happy hour. And lucky for you, we're offering both at this month's Going Out Guide Happy Hour at the Big Hunt. Between 6 and 8, we've got the usual happy hour specials, including free veggie, cheese and pepperoni pizza, free burritos, $3 rail drinks and $2.50 house drafts. We've also got two skeeball machines for everyone to play on. See if you can beat a guru (you probably can), and the three highest scores will win prize packages.

Maddy's Bar and Grille, the comfortable watering hole just north of Dupont Circle, is named after Madeline Shields, the mother of owner Dale Shields. Eight years ago, Madeline Shields lost her battle with cancer. In her memory, the bar celebrates Maddy's Day, where 100 percent of the day's food-and-drink profits are donated to the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University. There's live music from Stephen Heller between 5 and 8, raffles for gift certificates and a special menu. Drop in for happy hour for $4 rail drinks, wines by the glass and selected drafts between 4 and 7.

There's another retro party at Napoleon this week, but Que Sera is focused on old-school rock tunes from the likes of the Rolling Stones, Iggy Pop and the Beach Boys, courtesy of DJs John Thornley (of US Royalty) and friends. The music starts at 10, and there's free champagne for the first hour (while supplies last, of course) without a cover charge.

Have you ever been wasting away in a meeting at your job and thought that all you needed was beer to survive the PowerPoint onslaught? The PowerPoint Karaoke happy hour at Wonderland is for you. Sponsored by the comedic employment blog ihatemy9to5.com, PowerPoint Karaoke allows you to imbibe while improvising the content of PowerPoint presentations the way you hear them in your head during marathon staff meetings. Email ihm9to5@gmail.com to submit slides or sign up as a presenter. Drinks specials include $2 off all draft beers and $1 off rail drinks.

Friday, May 14
St. Stephen's Church and Positive Force are stepping up their game in 2010. Last month's Titus Andronicus show will go down as one of the year's best concerts, not just because of the New Jersey band's steamrolling performance but because of the unique mood in the church that night. It wasn't dark like a nightclub, there certainly wasn't any air conditioning and the sound wasn't perfect (although it sounded fine - and was nice and loud) but there was something loose and friendly about it. It doesn't always seem like people are having fun at shows in D.C., but on that night, everyone certainly looked like they were having a blast. Expect more positive vibes on Friday as a stellar local lineup raises money for We Are Family. Title Tracks and Deleted Scenes are two of the best pop bands in D.C., writing memorable songs from different directions. Title Tracks pack theirs full of sharp hooks, Deleted Scenes favor twists and turns. Baltimore's Ecstatic Sunshine and locals Authorization round out the bill.

On Little Brother's 2003 debut, "The Listening," the three North Carolina college buddies offered tales of young men who happen to rap but struggle with bills, day jobs, relationships and fatherhood while also stylistically acknowledging such big brothers as Native Tongues, Pete Rock and Gang Starr. DJ 9th Wonder's re-contextualized soul samples provided a bluesy backdrop of beats for Rapper Big Pooh and Phonte's witty verses, and an underground sensation was born. After eight years, four quality albums, multiple mix tapes, a difficult major-label stint, countless tour miles and a very public and contentious split with 9th Wonder, the fellas have decided to call it quits as a group. The two MCs have thriving and artistically solid solo careers, so despite the gnashing of teeth from fans, going out on top while you're still friends isn't a bad idea. Pooh and Phonte's show at the Black Cat is a fitting farewell at a venue that nurtured their dedicated fan base from the beginning.

Hercules and Love Affair's self-titled 2008 album demonstrates a devotion to classic house and disco music, though the original tunes by the group's Andrew Butler are also salted with the electro and funk of more recent decades. Tonight at U Street Music Hall's Red Fridays, Butler is going to dig into the catalogs of the artists who influenced his wildly popular project, from Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan to Gorgio Moroder. (And, if you're lucky, he might drop a song or two from the finished-but-unreleased second Hercules album.) There's a $10 cover, and doors open at 10, but get there early -- it's going to be slammed.

It takes quite an act to stump us on how to write about it, but Arrington de Dionyso has pretty much done us in. He used to be in Old Time Relijun, whose wacky take on new wave seems positively quaint compared to what he's up to now with his new project Malaikat Dan Singa. Here he combines bleating free jazz, blasts of punk, spastically shouted Indonesian lyrics and the occasional throat-singing outburst. You could call it chaos but he seems to know exactly what's going on at all times. If it sounds frightening but you're still curious, the show is free at Comet Ping Pong.

This week's shortest Nightlife Agenda item: Local cover stars Gonzo's Nose are doing one of the band's periodic all-'80s nights at the Clarendon Ballroom. (In fact, this is number 15.) You should know what to expect: A big crowd, including lots of girls-night-out groups, that want to sing and dance along to well-played favorites. Groundbreaking? No. Packed? Yes. There's a $10 cover after 8.

Friday nights at Layla Lounge have been about hip-hop beats, bottle service and celebrity appearances. Until recently, that is, when Jin Chong -- a veteran of Love and Russia House -- started booking deep house at the Northeast D.C. club. We were as surprised as anyone, but this week's lineup includes Chicago DJ James Curd, whose energetic house releases as the Greenskeepers have been released on top labels (OM, DFA, etc.) and led to bookings at some of Europe's biggest clubs. And now he's playing at a cozy spot off Florida Avenue NE. Go figure. The night starts with an open bar from 10 to 11, and goes until 3 a.m. There's a $15 cover all night.

Saturday, May 15
Although Memorial Day is still a few weeks away, you can grab a taste of summer in Annapolis this weekend and party for a good cause. Save the Coconuts, a group that raises money for organizations researching and fighting breast cancer, is hosting its annual Coconut Ball, which features a tiki bar, party music by the Tiki Barbarians, food, giveaways and raffles. Browse exhibits at the Annapolis Maritime Museum or just hit the dance floor with a rum drink in hand. Sounds like the perfect way to prepare for the warm weather.

David saw Jesse Elliott of These United States at a show at Iota recently and his initial response was "What's he doing here?" Not because he didn't belong but because the dude is always on tour! If TUS aren't in the lead, they are certainly near the front of the pack when it comes to miles racked up on the road, bringing their All-American brand of rock-country-folk - all with a coat of shiny pop on top - to every city that'll have them. One city that will be having them later this summer is Chicago, at a little festival called Lollapalooza. Not a bad gig. And the band is certainly deserving, not just because of its determination but because of all of those fine songs that keep getting cranked out at a breakneck pace. Tonight's an increasingly rare hometown show, and fellow locals Middle Distance Runner will also perform at the Black Cat.

So, what do you know about African wines? Probably not a lot. Despite centuries of winemaking on the continent, it's still generally unknown in the U.S. Get fodder for your next cocktail party -- and one up on all your wine-bar-going friends -- at Drink Well, a traveling exhibition of African food, wine and art, which stops in at Funxion tonight. Sample products from 14 African wineries while DJ Underdog spins Afrobeat tunes and chef Marvin Woods (of the "Home Plate" TV series) whips up African food. All-inclusive tickets are $75, and proceeds will be used to train South Africans in winemaking and viticulture at the country's only black-owned vineyard. Purchase tickets in advance from the Local Wine Events Web site.

Sunday, May 16
U.K. singer-songwriter Laura Marling was born in 1990, so don't try to buy her a drink when she performs at Iota. To listen to her immaculately crafted folk songs, sung in a sparkling yet world-weary voice, you'd think she was a veteran of two decades of performing, not simply two decades of existing. There are no tales of teenage tantrums but plenty of standard folk subjects, love and death chief among them. She's well studied in the genre's traditions, giving the songs a warm and familiar feel but always with the freshness of a new voice.

Monday, May 17
Eluvium is the alias of Matthew Cooper and he is going to make DC9 one blissed-out place on Monday night. Cooper creates glacial soundscapes built on piano, synths, low-key strings and he's even added his voice to the mix on his latest album, "Similes." Sometimes there's a bit of a payoff at the end but just as often the songs drift away into the empty areas from which they were formed. Note to the downstairs bartender for this one: Might want to turn the jukebox volume down a bit for this show. Don't want to mess with the mellow.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | May 11, 2010; 5:50 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Music  
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