Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week’s best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Here are our top five can’t-miss events on the horizon:
Tuesday:Many peoples across the African continent have put their own spin on high-energy dance music: In South African, it’s kwaito. The Ivorians have zouglou. And the Angolans birthed kuduro. Like much youth music in the developing world, kuduro voraciously incorporates varied influences, from Caribbean soca to European electronic music, always with a stiff backbone of local rhythms. These forms are the new global sounds, speedily bypassing geographical borders. Kuduro found a lusophone connection in Portugal, when the DJs of Baraka Som Sistema enthusiastically embraced the style. Rather than snatch and grab a popular sound as culture hunters sometimes do, they took it straight back to Luanda and recruited some of the country’s top MCs before pushing the sound around the world, including a visit to U Street Music Hall.
Tuesday: Learning to dance is a pretty frequent new year’s resolution, and if you’re wondering where to begin, we have one word: Artisphere. The Rosslyn arts center is home to a 4000-square-foot ballroom where salsa rules every Tuesday. The $8 cover charge includes an hour-long dance lesson followed by hours of great salsa hits spun by veteran DJ Bruno “El Unico.” Artisphere’s atmosphere is great for beginners: It doesn’t have the skeeviness of some clubs, there’s room to go off to the side if you want to practice your steps with a partner and you can actually talk to people without shouting.
Thursday: For a decade, Words, Beats & Life has been one of D.C.’s finest nonprofit arts programs, showcasing the best of hip-hop with B-boy dance contests for young people, the Bootleg Festival of films from around the world, graffiti mural shows, even a hip-hop chess tournament for ages 5 to 23. The group is marking its 10th anniversary with a “Philanthrobeat” party at Liv, featuring DJs spinning the music of the Soulquarians, the loose hip-hop collective featuring the Roots, Common, Erykah Badu, D’Angelo and Q-Tip, among others. U Street fixtures DJ RBI and 2-Tone Jones (the Diamond Cutter DJs) join Book, Jahsonic and Bush Head Ed of WPFW’s Soul Controllers on the decks.
Friday: Over the past decade, DJ Rory Phillips has been a resident at some of London’s most incredible-yet-unpretentious dance nights, including And Did We Mention Our Disco, which brought the likes of LCD Soundsystem and Justice to spin in a sweaty little basement in Shoreditch, and Durrr, a five-year-old party where bleeding-edge electro, indie, disco and punk-funk all collide on a packed dance floor. Phillips is making his D.C. debut at U Street Music Hall, and we can’t think of better hosts than Volta Bureau , the house- and disco-loving DJ supergroup featuring Will Eastman, Outputmessage and Micah Vellian that made some of our favorite tunes of 2011. How could this party get any better? It’s free all night for everyone 21 and older, and $10 for the 18-to-20 crowd with advance purchase.
Saturday: For more than a decade, the space at 443 I St. NW has been the heart of D.C.’s underground creative scene. It has been a concert venue, rehearsal space, recording studio, art gallery, party spot and, yes, a residence. It has been called the Hosiery, the Red Door, 443 Eye and Gold Leaf Studios. But at the end of the month, it will enter the final phase of every once-cool art space -- becoming condos. Saturday’s Going Away Party isn’t the last event at Gold Leaf, but it will be a massive blowout. The bands include Publicist (the one-man funk force of Trans Am’s Sebastian Thomson), post-punk agitators Edie Sedgwick, destructive rockers the State Department, debaucherous ‘80s glam throwbacks the Dance Party and more. There will also be a video art display featuring artists who used Gold Leaf as a home base. It’s a a fitting sendoff for one of D.C.’s most exciting hubs.
Need more ideas? There are 10 after the jump.
Wednesday, Jan. 11
In April, the Washington Ballet will unveil its new work “ALICE (in wonderland)” at the Kennedy Center. So where better for the Jete Society, the ballet’s young members group, to hold a happy hour than the Madhatter? The night features drink specials and a chance to buy discounted tickets to “Alice,” and proceeds benefit the Washington School of Ballet’s scholarship fund.
Thursday, Jan. 12
New York electronic-dance production duo the Knocks — known for remixing Passion Pit, Foster the People and Wale, among others — visits U Street Music Hall for a performance presented by local blog All Things Go.
When it comes to New York City beers, Brooklyn Brewery is king. But close behind is Sixpoint, a Brooklyn-based brewery that makes outstanding hoppy ales. The Pug is adding Sixpoint on draft and in cans, and is offering some deals tonight to welcome the beers to H Street, including 16-ounce cans of Bengali Tiger IPA for $4 and Sixpoint drafts for $5. (And if you haven’t tried the Pug’s new Irish Red Ale, brewed by Baltimore’s Oliver Breweries, this would also be a good night to try it.)
Friday, Jan. 13
Even as the D.C. hip-hop scene continues to expand and talented MCs emerge with regularity, Tabi Bonney remains one of the most gifted and charismatic performers around. DTMD opens at the Black Cat.
Saturday, Jan. 14
The Dirty South hip-hop party Grits & Biscuits came to be at just the right time. Where it was once a scoffed-at stepchild of the rap world, the third coast pushed its way to prominence and has evolved long enough to have distinctive styles and eras as diverse as the sub-Mason Dixon Line states themselves. DJ Square Biz will be dropping everything from the car culture riding anthems of Texas to ATLien funk to the bounce of New Orleans’ 3rd Ward at Liv. There’s a $15 cover charge all night.
As part of the Park Hyatt’s Masters of Food and Wine day, Port City brewmaster Bill Butcher leads a tasting of five beers from the Alexandria brewery at the Blue Duck Tavern, all paired with seasonal jar conserves. All-inclusive tickets are $45; reservations are highly recommended.
Tonight’s Nerd Nite at DC9 offers a real one-two punch, for different reasons. If you’ve lived in Maryland, you’ve heard how chicken farming on the Eastern Shore is bad for the environment, thanks to the chicken waste. But what is the real impact? An EPA employee who has a doctorate in environmental science — and raises chickens — weighs in. And for boxing fans, Tim Starks, the blogger who founded the indespensible Queensberry Rules, talks about the logic and physics behind the sweet science.
Sunday, Jan. 15
When you’re catching a serious vibe on the dance floor, sometimes the perfect vocal can take that vibration higher. House revolves around DJs and producers, but vocalists hold a special place in the genre, as their work can create some of the most memorable anthems. Stephanie Cooke is a top talent in soulful house, with jams on such venerated labels as King Street Sounds and West End Records. She’ll be lending her voice to the Global Soul Sessions party at Island Cafe in Petworth with DJs Andrew Hogans and Carl Dupree.
What’s that smell? Paint Fumes are up from Charlotte to play whiplash garage-punk at Comet Ping Pong, with Teen Liver and Priests opening.
Dance music fans may have heard of U Street Music Hall’s Moombahton Massive, but what about the Moombacon Massive? This special recurring event at the Rock & Roll Hotel features a number of H Street regulars — DJs Reed Rothchild, Denman, Smudge, VJ John Bowen of the Video Killers — dropping electro, hip-hop and moombahton while the bar pours strong drinks and the kitchen serves up free ribs, bacon and other meaty snacks. No charge for food, no charge to get in — perfect for people watching their wallets.