With Mardi Gras, the Chinese New Year and Valentine’s Day just days away, this weekend is a weird mash-up of all three. Take in a glam, pre-Fat Tuesday masquerade bash, a parade through Chinatown, or a night of sweaty swing dancing, all in shades of red and pink. For music fans, Toro Y Moi is a sure thing for chillwavers, though you could also throw on your leather jacket and head to Bon Jovi.
No need to hit the Bourbon Street debauchery when we have our own entertainment right here. Music, burlesque, sideshows and — as the Black Cat says — “general mayhem.” As for the music, Johnny Grave & the Tombstones, Black Masala, and Norman Rockwell all perform. Glam Gamz and Cherie Sweetbottom do their burlesque act. And Moloch’s Midway and Cabinet of Infernal Mysteries have feats to shock everyone. Bring it. Friday at 9 p.m.
If you’ve been enjoying the uptick in D.C. taquerias lately, learn more about the history of those Mexican flavors when historian Jeffrey Pilcher and columnist Gustavo Arellano talk with Smithsonian curator Rayna Green about how Mexican food became so ubiquitous in the United States. A book signing and taco truck rodeo follow the talk, Saturday from 1:30 to 4 p.m. at the National Museum of American History.
Ring in the Year of the Snake Sunday in Chinatown with the annual Chinese Lunar New Year Parade. The procession, featuring the Anacostia High School Band, Miss Chinatown, Shaolin monks and Chinese lion dancers, kicks off at Sixth and I streets, swings down to G Street and back again in a colorful display. The parade steps off at 1 p.m., but organizers advise staking out your spot by 12:30.
Chaz Bundick is Toro y Moi, the one-man electronic-pop act who blends funky beats with a twee aesthetic for something that’s almost compulsively listenable. Though we prefer these kinds of sounds in the summertime, ideally on rooftops, Sunday’s show at the 9:30 Club is a can’t-miss. Expect this chillwave act to attract a diverse — but ready to party — crowd.
The Phillips Collection’s latest show aims to draw connections between an unlikely trio of expressionist artists: Jean Dubuffet, Jackson Pollock and the far lesser known Alfonso Ossorio, who was a champion of Pollock’s work. The exhibition opens Saturday and lasts through May 12.
Thirty years after forming in Sayreville, N.J., Bon Jovi will release its 12th album, “What About Now,” late next month. (Surprise: The new material is anthemic arena pop-rock.) See if new single “Because We Can” fits neatly alongside “Bad Medicine” and “You Give Love a Bad Name” when the group visits Verizon Center on Sunday.
This exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery opened earlier this month in observation of the 150th anniversary of the Emancipation Proclamation and Black History Month, but you can see it through next year. In vintage photographs and prints plucked mostly from the gallery’s collections, the show tells the story of some of the boldface names in the Civil War struggle.
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, couples everywhere are trying to find something romantic that doesn’t involve dinner. Here’s an idea: Swing dancing at Glen Echo’s Spanish Ballroom. The Red Dress Ball, set for Saturday night, has a slight Valentine’s theme, with women asked to wear red dresses, but it’s going to be a night more about music than roses. If you have two left feet – or need a refresher – there’s a free hour-long dance lesson at 8 p.m.
The gorgeous Washington Club on Dupont Circle will set the scene for the Alliance Francaise’s chi-chi Mardi Gras Masquerade on Saturday night. The night includes French pastries and an open bar featuring sparkling wines, beer, and Bourbon Street cocktails. Sip with a brass band as your background music, then check out what the Washington Ballet is up to. Cocktail attire is suggested; masks are a must. Can you say date night?