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Posted at 7:00 PM ET, 11/23/2010

Nightlife Agenda: Madonnagagarama and Thanksgiving parties

By Fritz Hahn

Expect wall-to-wall crowds at Town on Saturday for Madonnagagarama, which features the music of Madonna and Lady Gaga spun back-to-back all night by DJ Ed Bailey. (Jay Premack for The Post)

Get ready for a fun-filled holiday weekend. A number of bars are kicking off with special Wednesday events -- how does free cocktails at the Park at 14th with Big Tigger sound? -- but we're also excited for happy hours and retro dance parties on Thanksgiving night. Then you've got Fort Knox Five at Artisphere, a tribute to Madonna and Lady Gaga at Town and Doc Scantlin's swinging holiday party at the Carlyle Club.

Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday | Tuesday

Wednesday, Nov. 24
The annual Night of Elegance is a party that lives up to its name. For 18 years, the Positive Black Men Coalition has made the night before Thanksgiving into a lively, soulful celebration. Godfather of Go-Go Chuck Brown is again the featured musical guest at the Hyatt Regency Crystal City, alongside Suttle Thoughts and Be'la Dona - two groups that bring R&B into go-go's pocket groove. Beyond music and dancing, don't miss performances by the D.C. Kings of Comedy, including stand-up vets Joe Clair and Teddy Carpenter. Discount hotel rooms are available through the event Web site.

David's going through a bit of Kurt Vile withdrawal. Last year he saw the indie troubadour who can toggle between fragile acoustic numbers and ragged psych-rock rumblers a whopping seven times in concert. In 2010 it took an October trip to Las Vegas for Matador Records' 21st anniversary bash to see him for the first time. So it's nice that he and his backing band, the Violators, will be visiting the Black Cat on the night before Thanksgiving.

If music historians ever look back on the indie bands of 2010, they will likely wonder if there was some contest to see who could come up with the most leisurely, nostalgic band name. Beaches, memories and twins run rampant. But Weekend may win for being most straightforward. The San Francisco band's debut album recently came out on iconic indie-pop label Slumberland Records, and it carries on the storied tradition of surging electric guitars with sweet pop melodies hidden just beneath the fuzz. The best song is a six-minute monster called "Coma Summer" and it's both good enough and has the right title to serve as the unofficial nostalgia song of the year.

It's a big night for parties in D.C. -- after all, the next day is a holiday and bars are allowed to stay open for an extra hour, meaning last call is at 2:30. To mark the occasion, the Usual Suspectz crew is hosting its weekly party at the Park at 14th on Wednesday instead of Thursday. WPGC morning host Big Tigger is the special celebrity guest. The best part is that the usual deals are intact: E-mail to get free admission, show up between 5 and 7 for free cocktails, and stick around for $5 drink specials until 10.

There's a battle going on in Clarendon tonight: On one side of Wilson Boulevard, the Clarendon Ballroom is hosting its Thanksgiving Eve Party with cover band pros Kristen and the Noise performing live. (Doors open at 6, and there's a $10 cover after 8 p.m.) Over at the Clarendon Grill, local cover band Klepto Radio is performing at the annual Thanksgiving Throwdown, a benefit for the Arlington Food Assistance Center. Cover is $5 if you bring cans of food for the needy, or $8 if you show up empty handed. Doors open at 6, and it's going to be full early.

Thursday, Nov. 25
Whether you want to catch up with old friends or escape the in-laws, Thanksgiving night is a great time to hit a neighborhood bar. The majority of nightspots and taverns will be closed on Thursday so that employees can spend time with their families, but some will have the lights on with drinks ready and waiting. (Check out our blog for an updated list of what's open.) Here are two bars that are going above and beyond to make the night special: The Adams Morgan branch of Bourbon is celebrating "the Night of the Kicking Chicken" with an all-night happy hour. From 9 to close, take $2 off all draft beers, and all Wild Turkey drinks will be $4. (The high-end Wild Turkeys, including the Reserve and Kentucky Spirit, are $2 off, which puts them under $10.)

Over at Duffy's Irish Pub, the Thanksgiving Beerfest is one of the best deals in town : Pay $20 to get unlimited beers from 7 to midnight. The selection includes a dozen drafts - even Dogfish Head, Great Lakes and Guinness - and everything in bottles and cans - Smithwick's, Magners cider, even PBR and Natty Boh. Just give thanks that Friday is (hopefully, for you) a holiday.

Tonight we can be thankful that some traditions endure. In this case we're referring to holiday night parties that serve many purposes, all to the greater good. Those would be calorie expenditure, holiday stir craziness relief, crazy relative avoidance and a chance to see old friends who are home for vacation. Spyda the DJ anchors a collection of selectors bringing Dancehall Thursdays back for a reggae reunion, this time at Liv. Soul Baby has been holding down the better part of two decades with hip-hop, soul, and classic R&B every Thanksgiving and Christmas. Jahsonic helms the wheels at Recess.

If you prefer your hip-hop live and local, Wale is performing at an 18-and-over party at Ibiza. Tickets are $10 in advance, or you can take your chances with the guest list and text IBIZA to 44256 for a free pass delivered by SMS.

Friday, Nov. 26
If your big band-loving parents or grandparents are visiting for Thanksgiving, you may want to pay attention: Doc Scantlin and His Imperial Palms Orchestra are hosting a Holiday Party at the Carlyle Club. You'll get the usual Doc Scantlin show, featuring a good-time mix of Cab Calloway swing, schmaltzy 1930s ballads and song-and-dance numbers featuring a troupe of cigarette girls, but this time with a holiday twist. Tickets are $20 in advance, and tables do sell out.

One of the biggest dance parties of the last few years has been No Scrubs, the all-'90s dance party helmed by U Street Music Hall co-owners Will Eastman and Brian Billion. It's grown from the backstage of the Black Cat to the main floor of the 9:30 Club, packing houses all the way. The DJs spin everything from Nirvana to House of Pain, though it's heavy on dancefloor-friendly fare by the likes of Technotronic and Bel Biv Devoe. Nostalgia never felt so good.

In an age where chain bars are opening all over Northern Virginia, it seems hard to believe that JV's has been around for 63 years. But the cool little roadhouse is indeed celebrating that milestone this year, with a number of shows to commemorate the anniversary. This time, it's a special edition of "Lord of the Strings," the ongoing series that honors local guitar heroes. Your hosts are Dan Hovey, who has toured with Root Boy Slim and Jr. Cline and the Recliners and currently plays with the Mary Ann Redmond Band, and Dave Chappell, who performed with Danny Gatton and currently sits in with Cathy Ponton King and Patty Reese. Doors open at 9 p.m.

The Black Cat has been surprisingly friendly to fans to Indian dance music this year, with appearances by New York's DJ Rekha -- most recently at October's "Bhangraween" -- and more frequent appearances by the U.S. Department of Bhangra. The group is making its main stage debut this month at a night that will feature plenty of dhol-driven Punjabi tunes and possibly a dance performance. The cover is $10, and proceeds will be donated to the Edhi Foundation, which is working to get supplies and food to victims of this summer's floods in Pakistan. Downstairs, the Black Cat's backstage is home to the party girls of Kicks!, the free dance party that covers the bases from '60s girl groups to '00s indie rock.

Saturday, Nov. 27
What's going to be the biggest dance party in D.C. on this holiday weekend? In our minds, there's no question that it's going to be Madonnagagarama at Town. It's exactly what you think: A night of Madonna and Lady Gaga tracks spun back-to-back-to-back by Town head honcho Ed Bailey. Doors open at 10 p.m., and the weekly drag show starts at 10:30. Admission is $8 before 11, then $12. We suspect you'll need to get there early to beat the inevitable lines, but there's a benefit: $3 cocktails for the first hour.

In a city teeming with notable exports from punk to hip-hop, Fort Knox Five has found a unique niche that consolidates many of Washington's hot sounds into a funky party pastiche. Sitar, go-go style conga drums and stabs of bold soul-band brass pop up in the band's two albums and remixes. It's a formula that works for the dance floor while sticking largely to the live and organic side of the dance music spectrum. That approach also comes through onstage, with tracks generated from turntables and beat boxes as well as a slate of vocalists and instrumentalists. This weekend, they're not found at the usual downtown lounge but at Rosslyn's Artisphere.

Tuesday, Nov. 30
Perhaps we shouldn't choose a band by its name. For instance, the terribly named PS I Love You. The band's muscular, straightforward rock is big on big riffs and it makes a whole lot of noise for just a duo. It's all somewhat similar to Japandroids, another loud duo from our neighbor to the north with, yes, an awful name. Holiday Shores and Tennis System open at the Red Palace.

-- Fritz Hahn, Rhome Anderson and David Malitz

By Fritz Hahn  | November 23, 2010; 7:00 PM ET
Categories:  Bars and Clubs, Events, Holiday, Music  
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