Nightlife Agenda: Pool parties, rooftop parties and Black Pride
Can you believe Memorial Day is here already? Get ready for summer with multiple pool parties and rooftop gatherings, or a day-long Sunday block party with an all-star DJ lineup. The Black Pride festival returns to Washington, along with club and lounge parties. And then there's just all kinds of random events on our calendar: Soul Asylum playing for free in Rockville, Dutch DJs Kraak N Smaak, Daylight's fourth anniversary party, three legendary D.C. house DJs teaming up at the U Street Music Hall, Erykah Badu and a headbanging tribute to the late Ronnie James Dio.
Wednesday, May 26
The musical highlight of Baltimore's annual Artscape festival is the annual Billie Holiday and Cab Calloway vocal competition, which honors two Baltimore natives who happened to be two of the finest jazz musicians of all time. It's a tough contest, with competitors coming from around the region. Last year, Kerensa Gray (listen) took the top prize with her strong, smoky vocals. Gray makes her Twins Jazz debut tonight, bringing a songbook full of standards and gospel. There's a $12 cover.
Thursday, May 27
With a great live show and a solid grounding in popular music styles from the African diaspora, Elikeh has put in solid work on the D.C. scene. The group is celebrating the release of its album "Adje! Adje!" at Rock and Roll Hotel. The 8 Ohms and Tosin join in the polyrhythmic funk party.
Hudson Restaurant is turning its 20th Street patio into a new "outdoor lounge" with couches and other furniture instead of the usual tables and chairs, with the hope that this will encourage patrons to linger at happy hour. Give it a test run tonight during the Memorial Day Weekend Kickoff Patio Party. The enticements: free samples of three new cocktails, including Sangria Fusion Margarita and the Cucumber Collins, free hors d'oeuvres from the seasonal menu, and live calypso music from the Bermuda Blue steel pan band (listen). It all goes down between 6 and 8, and there's no cover.
Last week, metalheads around the world lifted their lighters in tribute to Ronnie James Dio, the former lead singer of Dio and Black Sabbath. This month's edition of Fighting the World, the awesome raise-your-fist-and-yell metal night at Little Miss Whiskey's, will offer an hour-long tribute that begins, appropriately enough, at midnight. But you should drop by earlier to grab a beer and bang your head. After all, doors open at 9 and there's no cover.
Last month, we told you about a more-nostalgic-than-usual evening of '80s dance music at Chief Ike's Mambo Room, with DJs from the '80s Dance Party (formerly at Heaven and Hell) and the now-shuttered Polly Esther's retro dance club, both of which were wildly popular around the turn of the millennium. Well, it went so well they're doing a holiday weekend reunion. The Angel (Heaven and Hell) and DJ KC (Polly Esther's) do battle on the main floor while London Shadows spins alternative '80s hits upstairs.
Friday, May 28
Three the House Way seems like a great candidate for the opening montage of a movie sequel. The three protagonists are scattered about, each engaged in separate lives that began where their adventures ended in the first movie. The leader, in this case DJ Sam "The Man" Burns, realizes he must once again summon the team for another mission for the benefit of the city's dancers. And so goes the setup for a Friday night in which three popular veteran house DJs reunite for the first time since they rocked together regularly at the storied Red and Sanctuary nightclubs back at the dawn of the millennium. Burns has continued spinning soul-saving sets as Washington's house godfather, and DJ Oji's releases on POJI records still make waves internationally in the dance-music world. Area appearances by Doug Smith, also known as one-half of the highly regarded production crew 95 North, are even more rare, which makes this special night of garage classics, soulful house and big room bangers at U Street Music Hall even more significant.
Soulful, sexy, unpredictable and occasionally raw, Erykah Badu still reps everything from stuttering hip-hop beats to smoky jazz ballads to funk workouts, although her last album, "New Amerykah, Part Two: Return of the Ankh" brought her closer to earth with love songs again. Opening for Badu at Constitution Hall is Janelle Monae, the newest addition to the small club of R&B singers breaking out of the stifling box of cliché. Her musical theater vocals, frenetic jitterbugging and genre-mashing songwriting makes her the most exciting singer to release an album this year. Pharrell's N.E.R.D. -- his vehicle for live hip-hop with big rock guitars and his trademark falsetto -- also makes an appearance.
Friday holds a pair of appealing shows for people looking to start the long weekend with some local rock. At the Velvet Lounge, both Greenland and Frau Eva take circuitous routes to the sweet spots of their songs. Greenland favors a more traditional rock approach -- a pair of guitars and the standard bass/drums rhythm section -- but the songs have their share of twists and turns before offering up a memorably big hook or chorus. Frau Eva plays a more gentle brand of indie rock, utilizing the occasional flugelhorn and flute to go along with multi-part harmonies to cook up its gentle folk tunes. Orbit to Leslie and Armchairs also play at the Velvet Lounge.
Over at the Rock and Roll Hotel things will be much more straightforward. Cobra Collective and Death By Sexy both have a take-no-prisoners approach to their songs. There are some riffs. They will be loud. The songs will be fast. There will be much attitude. And you will enjoy it or be sneered at. Dead Heart Bloom's moody post-shoegaze-folk hybrid doesn't quite fit in but it does make the bill more appealing.
Looking for a cost-effective way to kick off the three-day weekend? Look no further than Policy's Pregame happy hour. DJ Ratt Moze, who spins Baltimore Club and other electronic dance music at the Rock and Roll Hotel and Jimmy Valentine's, provides weekend-warmup beats for the hip crowd, but it's the extended happy hour, which runs between 5 and 9, that will have you raving. Drink specials include $2 Guinness, $3 Pabst Blue Ribbon, $4 rail drinks and a $5 PBR-and-a-shot combo. For $10, try your luck and get a 22-ounce microbrew bottle (in a brown paper bag) from Policy's better-than-average beer menu. There's no cover charge.
Another happy hour worth your attention as the weekend gets underway is more about helping others than just helping yourself to cheap beer. At kstreet Lounge, a benefit happy hour raises money for the Youth Leadership Foundation, a program offering academic help and character development for at-risk D.C. youth. Between 6 and 9:30 p.m, drink specials include $3 domestic beers and $4 imported beers. Volunteers man the front door to talk about the programs and accept donations, though the group says "they're not required." Still, it's a worthwhile charity, so if the spirit moves, drop a couple of bills -- $5 to $20 is common, the group says -- into the box for some good weekend karma.
Saturday, May 29
The Brightest Young Things group returns to the Capitol Skyline Hotel this weekend for its second pool party of the year. "Camp" is the theme, so feel free to wear a John Waters mustache or Liberace-inspired lame bathing suit for the day-long event, which features swimming and DJs Tom Lim, Exactly and Cale from noon to 8, plus cheap drinks and pool-side grilling. BYO towels and get there early to stake out a deck chair. As a bonus, the pool party wristband is good for free admission to see L.A. remixers du jour Classixx at U Street Music Hall later that night. (Seriously, listen to Classixx rework the music of Phoenix, Holy Ghost and Yacht on the duo's MySpace page and you'll be bumping the laidback boogie grooves all day.) There's a $15 cover for the pool party, and $10 for Classixx if you don't have a wristband.
Whenever Dutch DJs Kraak N Smaak bring their mix of grooving electro-funk and boogie-breakbeats to the Eighteenth Street Lounge, it can be hard to find a spot on the dance floor. This is far from the usual club fodder -- it's electronic music with breadth and soul, and the well-chosen '70s samples don't hurt, either. Check out the duo's top-notch DJ mix from March on Mixcloud, then clean off your dancing shoes. DJ Christine Moritz opens.
Quick: Somebody find out Pinetop Perkins's secret -- it could be worth a fortune. The Mississippi-born pianist has been playing the blues for more than eight decades, including 12 years with Muddy Waters in the '60s and '70s, and shorter stints with B.B. King and Earl Hooker. Now 96 and still spreading the gospel of boogie-woogie blues, Perkins visits Glen Echo's Spanish Ballroom with his band, including longtime Waters sideman "Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin on guitar. Opening the dance party is local piano legend Daryl Davis, who took over Perkins's spot in the Muddy Waters Band. Since you'll be jitterbugging all night, there's a free swing lesson with Tom and Debra of gottaswing.com between 8 and 9, followed by dancing until midnight.
Black Pride weekend continues with a couple more parties: At EFN Lounge, the "Temptation Island" party for men features New York's DJ Bladerunner and two floors of dancers and drink specials. Doors open at 9; get there before midnight to skip the $10 cover. And across town at DC Star, the ladies-only Chocolate Heat event features R&B star Amerie. New York party starter Mary Mac is the featured DJ. Tickets are $25 in advance from www.lovergirlnyc.com or $30 at the door. And both sexes are welcome at the annual Black and White Party, held on the Beacon Hotel's roof deck from 9 to 1. With the DJs, indoor/outdoor lounge areas and two bars, it should be one of the hits of the weekend. Admission is $15 before 10 and $20 after.
Cobalt's monthly Shift party gears up for Shift Memorial Mayhem, which can only mean more of the pop, indie and electro mashup that has made this night one of the most enjoyable parties at any D.C. gay bar. Joining DJ Majr this month are Zack Rosen, who spins at the Black Cat's Homo/Sonic party, and Wesley D of the music blog coffeeandbars.com. Doors open at 10, and all-night drink specials include $3 PBRs and $5 import beers and rail drinks.
When DJs Kenan Orr and Smudge rock together, you might get forgotten hip-house, '80s jheri-curl funk or hard rock anthems. As Two Sisters, the duo puts an oddball stamp on dance parties where guilty pleasures are stripped of guilt and you can boogie to records you thought only you liked. Joining them at DC9 is Nine:Fifteen, a DC underground hip-hop act who have been on hiatus from the stage for a few years but have still been recording. Their sound has been morphing from stripped down beats and raps to a more adventurous dance and new wave approach.
Sunday, May 30
If there was one thing we wish Washington had more of in the summer, it would be big block parties with music, food trucks, grilling - the works. Thankfully, local streetwear label Durkl is giving us the perfect Memorial Day Sunday with a free outdoor party in a large parking lot behind its Chinatown headquarters at Fifth and I streets NW. (The actual entrance to the parking lot is at 452 K St.) There will be three grills if you want to bring (and grill) your own burgers and brats, plus another grill for vegetarians. If you don't feel like cooking, look out for Sweetgreen and the Fojol Brothers truck. (Before you ask, no, they're not selling alcohol.) The icing on this free party is a DJ lineup that reads like People You Normally Pay $10 or More to Hear. Get down to Fort Knox Five, Will Eastman and Brian Billion (Bliss), the Nouveau Riche crew, Stereo Faith (Sorted), Chris Burns, Beautiful Swimmers, Jackie O and Lil' Elle (Kids), and Deep Sang (Dirty Bombs), among others. Bring bocce sets, Frisbees - whatever you need for a hot time at a summer block party. Gates open at 11 a.m.
By the end of last summer, we thought we had seen the last of the Coolout parties on Beacon Hotel's rooftop deck. Between the rotating cast of DJs spinning great soulful house, Latin funk music and hip-hop, and the fashionable crowds, the two-year-old Sunday afternoon gatherings had become an institution. They had also become so popular and unwieldy that organizers were making noises about not returning this year. But lo and behold, this week marks the comeback of the Coolout, with longtime resident Harry Dixon joined by local D.C. indie rockers U.S. Royalty, who have their own funky residency on Wednesdays at Chi-Cha Lounge. Throw in a set by rising local hip-hop star Phil Ade, and you've got a perfect kickoff to the weekly summer series. (If you went last year, note the new time -- 5 to 11 p.m. -- but admission is still free.)
Okay, so we're writing this on Tuesday, but with Sunday's forecast calling for temperatures around 80 (knock on wood), it sounds like a great day for a pool party. Luckily, you've got two to choose from. "Top Chef" Spike Mendelsohn is back behind the grill at the Capitol Skyline Hotel's Spike'd Sundays, which run from Memorial Day through Labor Day. The $15 cover includes a free burger with toppings and sides, but you also get music spun by DC101 DJ Flounder, drink specials and a chance to play in (or relax by) one of the area's largest pools. For a more nightclubby atmosphere -- and a see-and-be-seen crowd -- head for the Liaison Hotel's rooftop pool, where the Adult Swim pool parties have started up again. It's like going to a nightclub in the middle of the day, from the poolside tables reserved for bottle service to the large bouncers at the doors. DJs spin pumping music, bartenders sling mixed drinks as well as cans of beer, and toned bodies check each other out. It's as if Fly Lounge or the Shadow Room moved outdoors for the day. Admission is free from 1 to 2 p.m., and then the cover rockets up to $20 until 10 p.m. Send an RSVP to email@example.com to get on the list.
Did you notice that the HFStival is back? The dormant alt-rock radio station is relaunching its signature event in September and basically pretending that the past 12 years never happened with a lineup featuring Third Eye Blind, Marcy Playground, Everclear and the bald dude from Live. And the cheapest tickets are $25! A better '90s nostalgia value is this weekend at Rockville's annual Memorial Day celebration, where Minneapolis rockers Soul Asylum will be playing for free. David Pirner and his crew have more good songs ("Runaway Train" and "Somebody to Shove" over "Semi-Charmed Life" and "Sex and Candy" any day) than the collection of Clinton-era retreads, and you can't beat the price.
Old-school, vintage and classic parties come and go, but Daylight has become an institution for a number of reasons. The soul food buffet is like something you'd get in an auntie's kitchen. The community of regular dancers creates a welcoming family atmosphere of people who really know their music but also put a premium on cutting loose. And resident DJs Divine and Bill Source have decades of experience guiding their selections behind the decks. Some folks believe that once they get "real" (aka boring) lives, they aren't allowed to party to good music anymore. Daylight's four-year run has been fueled by folks who believe that regularly getting your dance on to music you love is the key to a good life. They're celebrating with an extended holiday blowout at Liv that starts with a 7 - 8:30 p.m. open bar and runs until 2 a.m.
"Bombs over Baghdad" or "Let's Go Crazy"? You need not choose, for this is the Reese's Cup of dance parties -- you can have your chocolate and your peanut butter, perfectly blended together. DJ Dredd opens the doors to hordes of sweaty, dancing masses for another versus party. For this holiday weekend it's a reprise of Prince vs. Outkast at the Black Cat.
When DJ Tim Sweeney isn't hosting the essential-listening Beats in Space radio show on New York City's WNYU, he's spinning futuristic disco and house in clubs around the world or working on remixes for DFA Records, the home of LCD Soundsystem and the Juan McLean. And, on Memorial Day weekend, at least, Sweeney will be in the DJ booth at U Street Music Hall, along with local Solomon Sanchez. Tickets are $10.
Star hip-hop producer 9th Wonder travels the world with his True School crew spreading the gospel of everything that's awesome about movies like "Do The Right Thing," the finer points of new jack swing, and doing The Roger Rabbit dance unironically. This is the party for '70s babies who teethed on hip-hop in the '80s. True School is celebrating the birthday of D.C. member Cuzzin B with So Fresh, a holiday jam at Station 9.
Black Pride weekend winds down with two wildly different parties. On one hand, there's the Make it Rain party at Club 24, with performances by out-and-proud rappers Bry'nt and Last Offense, and R&B singer Mike Lyrik, DJs, dancers, and a $5,000 cash drop at 1 a.m. Doors are open from 9 to 3, and admission is $10 before 11:30 and $15 after. Meanwhile, Mova Lounge is offering a more chilled out evening with plenty of drink specials, including $3 Miller Lite and $5 Long Island Iced Teas from 7 to 10.
At Recess, the Memorial Day Latin Bash features an open bar for women from 10 to 11 and DJ Danny spinning a mix of Latin, house and international beats on the lounge's intimate dance floor. Get on the guest list at Primop.com for $5 admission.
Monday, May 31
In a weird way Holy [Expletive] is a throwback to the brief period of time when big beat electronica seemed destined to be the next big thing. The Toronto band incorporates elements of psychedelic and post rock into its sound, but it's a largely electronic creation that's all about big moments. The band prides itself on using all live instrumentation - a small army of synths, plus a rambunctious rhythm section - which differentiates it from those late-'90s group that used mostly programmed beats. Nice Nice and The Vita Ruins open at Rock and Roll Hotel.
-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz
| May 25, 2010; 4:41 PM ET
Categories: Bars and Clubs, Events, Music
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