Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus preview the week’s top concerts, happy hours and dance parties.
This week’s top five events:
Wednesday: The night before Thanksgiving is the unofficial start to the holiday party season. If you’re from the Washington area, it’s the night when all your high school friends are in town to visit family, and everyone gets a chance to catch up. If you’re not from D.C. and you’re in town for the holiday, well, the next day is likely a day off, so you might as well go out and rage, right? You’ll find both types of folks in the crowd at the annual Thanksgiving Throwdown at the Clarendon Ballroom. DJs Chris Styles, Flounder and Flex spin dance music all night. If the names sound familiar, they probably are: Styles holds down a weeknight slot on Hot 99.5 FM, and Flounder was known for spinning mash-ups on DC101 before parting ways with the station in July. The cover charge varies from $8 to $10 depending on time of arrival; save $3 by bringing two canned food items for the Arlington Food Assistance Center.
Wednesday: Raheem DeVaughn is Washington’s most prominent and powerful R&B singer, racking up Grammy nominations and critical acclaim for his smooth, Marvin Gaye-esque soaring love ballads and social commentary. Listening to his records is no substitute for seeing him live, especially in front of an adoring Washington crowd. Get your holiday weekend off to a soulful start with an unplugged performance at the Park at 14th. It’s free with a pass from the Park’s Web site, and cocktails and sliders are $4 before 7 p.m.
Thursday: Don’t let that tryptophan leave you too drowsy on Thanksgiving night. King Louie’s Missing Monuments is coming to the Black Cat to offer garage-rock dessert. The band’s titular frontman is virtually underground garage royalty, having played in dozens of bands the past two decades, almost all of them excelling in some brand of punchy, hook-filled mayhem. King Louie’s Missing Monuments is another fine addition to his discography, playing brisk power-pop that still packs plenty of punch. Expect it to hit even harder when played live.
Saturday: The Black Cat’s monthly Mousetrap dance party came to an end last Christmas, after 11 years of providing the best of Britpop and indie dance music, from Pulp and Blur to the Smiths and Belle & Sebastian. Founder Mark Zimin and fellow traveler DJ Stereo Faith are reviving the all-ages party as a Thanksgiving weekend treat. We’re expecting fun music and a good crowd, so wear your dancing shoes.
Saturday: In the early ‘90s, many of us made the connection between the hip-hop sounds we loved and the original grooves in our parents record collections. And thus a mini-funk revival was born, sometimes referred to as acid jazz. British groups led the way, and Brand New Heavies became the defining band of this period, with hits that continue to outlive the trend. N’Dea Davenport ’s vocals on such Heavies tunes as “Never Stop” launched the singer into broad adoration that continues to this day, whether solo or since reuniting with the Heavies. Davenport covers all eras of her career at the Rock and Roll Hotel, including material from a soon-to-be-released project.
Sound good? We’ve got 10 more ideas for you after the jump.
Tuesday, Nov. 22
One of our favorite annual Howard homecoming parties makes a special encore presentation during Thanksgiving week: Grits & Gravy , a night of retro hip-hop, soul, R&B and disco that pulls 20-something and 40-something dancers onto the floor in equal numbers. It’s back at Jin with a tribute to the late Heavy D, and, as always, it’s free.
Some cool hangout options have been opening up on Tuesdays for those who want to avoid slammed and rammed dance nights. DJ Keenan Orr hosts Phat Tuesdays at Eighteenth Street Lounge with his signature mix of ‘80s boogie, funk and hip-hop party hits. While Orr spins in the main space, the Gold Room hosts tango lessons, followed by a milonga dance party.
Wednesday, Nov. 23
In New York, few open-format soulful parties flourish for the long term, but the Freedom Party is one of the few that thrives. It has a classic house party combo of multi-era soul, hip-hop, R&B, reggae, disco and everything that true dancers and DJs value. Freedom makes another of its occasional stops in D.C. at Recess.
On the heels of an off-the-hook Halloween celebration, the heavy-metal-and-cocktails party Spirits in Black returns to American Ice Company. Room 11 cocktail craftsman Dan Searing mixes one-night-only drinks behind the bar while Andy Myers -- who plays drums in the metal band Fuchida when he’s not working as sommelier at CityZen -- serves as the DJ.
Shadow Room is normally closed on Wednesdays, but this week, there’s a special Thanksgiving pre-party with DJ Soundtrax. Doors open at 9, and drinks are free for the first hour. All you have to do is RSVP.
Thursday, Nov. 24
What beer pairs best with turkey and stuffing? Find out for yourself at the Black Squirrel’s Thanksgiving feast . As an annual “thank you” to regulars, the Adams Morgan beer bar charges $5 for an all-you-can-eat Thanksgiving buffet starting at 7 p.m. Pair your meal with any of the Squirrel’s 57 draft beers; a selection of pumpkin brews, including Flying Dog, Schlafly and DC Brau, will be offered all night.
Friday, Nov. 25
Over the past year, the Becky parties at Rock and Roll Hotel have gone from ironic guilty pleasure to a full-on irony-free zone: The dance floor is packed with people who just love dancing to Beyonce, Michael Jackson and New Kids on the Block and don’t care who knows it. DJs Stereo Faith and Trevor Martin are joined by guests Phil Real and Phillip Goyette at their first anniversary celebration, a free party that’s taking over both floors of the club.
A great way to impress/escape the relatives on the day after Thanksgiving: Go to Millennium Stage, one of D.C. crown jewels of free entertainment, to hear quirky singer-songwriter Nellie McKay performing with local faves the Eric Felten Jazz Orchestra.
Sunday, Nov. 27
Long a favorite in the metal underground, Mastodon is slowly storming into the mainstream as its songs become catchier and more concise but still packed with monster riffage. The band brings the noise at the 9:30 Club.