Nightlife Agenda: The post-inaugural edition

January 22, 2013

The son of Afrobeat trailblazer Fela Kuti, Femi Kuta puts his own spin on the energetic dance music. (Photo by Nicholas Hidiroglou)

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Here are four we think you can't miss:

Wednesday: Samuel Adams was a pioneer of the craft-brewing movement, but its ubiquitousness at bars and all-too-frequent TV commercials mean that beer fans generally overlook it in favor of trendier, hoppier products. (It tastes good, but do you really want to drink what your dad drinks?) What gets lost is that Sam Adams makes many beers beyond Boston Lager and seasonal ales. Today's Samuel Adams tasting at Meridian Pint is a chance to try eight beers that get overlooked, including the Grumpy Monk Belgian IPA, the Third Voyage Double IPA and the extra-strength Griffin's Bow barley wine. The star, though, is Utopias, an aged beer that tastes more like a port and sells for $190 a bottle. (You'll pay $12 for a shot, but at least you can say you tried it.) All Sam Adams beers will have happy-hour prices all night.

ThursdayThe Third Edition has been a Georgetown fixture for more than four decades, famed as a setting for raucous college-student parties and for its appearance in "St. Elmo's Fire." But the bar is set to close; like so many other places in D.C. in recent years, it's becoming an upscale restaurant. This week is your last chance to dance to a slow jam on the dance floor, grab a drink at the backyard tiki bar and pretend you're 23 again, or whatever age it said on the driver's license you were using. Doors open at 7 p.m. at Thursday's closing party, and there will be free hors d'oeuvres, drink specials and other surprises throughout the night.

Friday: Red Bull has put its name on snowboarding, skydiving from space and late-night vodka-and-energy-drink cocktails. Now it's trying to become a force in the DJ world. The third annual Red Bull Thre3Style competition tries to separate itself from the usual DJ battles by balancing a mixmaster's technical ability with a score with how hard the crowd dances. Each 15-minute set truly becomes a party, as participants must drop three genres of music into their sets. Five DJs compete in front of an 18-and-older crowd at the Rock and Roll Hotel to win a spot in the next round. Admission is free, but RSVPs are a must.

Friday: There really aren't enough superlatives to explain the significance of Big Daddy Kane to hip-hop. At the height of his influence, he was the intersection of several MC archetypes: the raw battle rapper, the smooth ladies' man and the consummate lyricist. And he was always willing to insert himself into the choreography of his iconic dancers, Scoob and Scrap. Big Daddy ran the dozens with Dolemite, made a New Jack Swing hit with Teddy Riley and helped give birth to the phenomenon that is Jay-Z. And if you've seen him lately, you know he's still got it. Kane brings a couple of decades of hits to the Howard Theatre stage backed by a full funk band.

Read on for more picks, including Femi Kuti, sideshow performers and a karaoke competition.

Wednesday, Jan. 23

You may have heard "sissy bounce," New Orleans' distinctive call-and-response fusion of rap and club music, on "Treme." If so, you should be familiar with Big Freedia, the leading light of the scene. A night of hypnotic and rapid-fire dancing is in store when Big Freedia takes the state at the Rock and Roll Hotel.

Thursday, Jan. 24

H Street is home to two of the city's finest karaoke nights: Kostume Karaoke at Little Miss Whiskey's, where singers dress up in outrageous outfits before grabbing the mike, and the over-the-top Sticky Rice Karaoke, where just about anything goes. The best performers from both events throw down onstage at the Rock and Roll Hotel's fifth-annual H Street Karaoke Cup. There's a $1 charge at the door, with all the cash going to the winner.

Craving a little Robot Rock? DJs LJ MTX, Proxxy and Lantern pull on flashing chrome helmets and LED-covered suits for One More Time, a tribute to Daft Punk at the 9:30 Club that sounds more like a recreation of a vintage concert than a trio of DJs spinning songs by their favorite artist.

Friday, Jan. 25

Of the two Fela Kuti progeny who continue to spread their dad’s Afrobeat music and message, Femi is the one who most eerily channels him in style and appearance. Femi Kuti isn’t just a rote continuance of Fela though, as he has also pushed the genre in different directions over the course of his recording career. On stage, he’s all blaring baritone sax, aggressive polyrhythms and pointed lyrical commentary. Kuti returns to the 9:30 Club for a not-to-be-missed performance.

Benoit & Sergio create house music that's heavily influenced by the '80s, full of big hooks and bouncy beats. There's an album in the works – you can hear samples on the duo's Soundcloud page – but for now, they're spinning at U Street Music Hall with fellow locals Solomon Sanchez and Brian Billion. (Remember, if you're 21 and over, admission is free before midnight.)

With the closing of Red Palace, the Black Cat has become a popular stop for offbeat entertainment. Two shows of Dr. Who-themed burlesque sold out last Friday, and this week, the New York Variety All-Stars Show makes its way down I-95 for fire eating, sword swallowing, illusions and the classic bed of nails stunt. Buy tickets in advance and save $2.

If you have a passing familiarity with Samba and Axé, then you should add Forró to the list. This set of partner dancing and music styles comes from the Northeast of Brazil and is growing in popularity throughout Latin America. Get an introduction to Forró at Tropicalia with a dance lesson before a live performance from by the Forró Allstars straight as well as selections from DJ Greg Caz.

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Alex Baldinger · January 22, 2013