Nightlife Agenda: Sundresses and al fresco music edition

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.

James Brown

The Godfather of Soul, shown here at the Washington Hilton circa January 1980, will be honored at Tropicalia on Wednesday night. (Photo by Lucian Perkins/The Washington Post)

Wednesday, May 1
From his humble beginnings with Durham, N.C., rap trio Little Brother a decade ago, DJ and producer 9th Wonder keeps steering his career to new hip-hop heights. He helped anchor and nurture the underground Justus League collective, even as he sold beats to Beyonce and Jay-Z. He has been a professor at North Carolina Central University, Duke and Harvard, and the subject of a documentary, but his priority remains his Jamla Records family of artists. This imprint includes producers, rappers and singers in 9th's mold of classic, progressive hip-hop. Eight of them take the stage with 9th Wonder at the Howard Theatre.

The Gibson is finally opening its patio for the season, welcoming spring with a May Day garden party. Join them starting at 6 p.m. for an almost-too-quaint party complete with a May pole, finger sandwiches and samples from the brand-new patio cocktail menu created by bartender Andrea Tateosian. A $20 cover includes unlimited punches and sandwiches.

The Hardest Working Man in Show Business, the Godfather of Soul, Mr. Dynamite, Soul Brother Number One – whatever you called him, James Brown revolutionized R&B and funk music. On the eve of his 80th birthday, DJs Underdog, Damu and Sam "The Man" Burns are raiding their record collections and spinning nothing but James Brown vinyl all night long at Tropicalia.

All Wu-Tang, all night at Satellite Room. DJ Baronhawk on the wheels. Free admission. Spit cryptic lyrics about kung-fu, chess, medieval Chinese warfare and the drug game to your date over drinks. The Wu-Tang Wednesday saga continues.

Friday, May 3
Hill Country's summer-long outdoor barbecue and music fest on the lawn of the National Building Museum may be a date spot to rival Jazz in the Garden by the time the dog days of summer roll around. The series kicks off tonight with heartland rock and Americana from Philadelphia's Kalob Griffin Band, and will feature free acts every Friday and Saturday beginning at 5:30 p.m.

Anwan "Big G" Glover rose from the mean streets of Columbia Heights to become the frontman of the Backyard Band, and then nationally known for playing Slim Charles on "The Wire" and for a recurring role on "Treme." Glover is celebrating his birthday at Love this weekend, performing with Backyard on the club's second floor, while the Floyd Mayweather fight will be shown on the first level. Advance tickets are on sale for $20; you won't want to get stuck in the lines outside.

Saturday, May 4
If you can't be in Louisville for the running of the 139th Kentucky Derby, there are plenty of parties that want to bring the big-hats-and-mint-juleps vibe to Washington. Jack Rose is hosting a free rooftop party with complementary snacks and discounted cocktails, while the all-inclusive Brightest Young Things party at the Hill Center is typically over the top, with six mixologists offering their takes on the mint julep, bluegrass and metal bands, a barbershop quartet, food by Spike Mendelsohn and Gordy's Pickle Jar, and free horse rides. Yes, pony rides for adults. You can see a longer list of events – with full details – elsewhere on the GOG Blog.

The '90s hip-hop party Reminisce returns to Liv with a tribute to "Unsung" artists – one-hit wonders or flashes in the pan who still managed to create memorable tunes. DJ Quartermaine is on the ones and twos, and drinks are free between 9:30 and 10:30. Just remember to RSVP for free admission.

Sunday, May 5
Did you know the Brixton has a secret back patio? No? You'll get a chance to check it out at the bar's first Circus de Mayo, which features a dunk tank on the patio; sno cone, cotton candy and frozen margarita machines; DJs; plenty of drink specials; face painting for adults; and much more. Doors open at noon, and the fun runs until 8.

The Wonderland Ballroom's annual Sundress Fest runs like clockwork after eight years. Show up on Sunday afternoon, sometime after 2 p.m., wearing a sundress. There's a pig roast on the patio, and happy hour prices all night for anyone – male or female – wearing a sundress. Nothing to wear? Wonderland owner Matthew McGovern went sundress shopping earlier this week, and the bar has a rack of them for you to browse. If you find one you like, it's yours in exchange for a donation to Ayuda, a local charity that works with low-income immigrants. All proceeds from food sales will also be donated, so show up hungry. At some point during the afternoon, McGovern says, there will be a sundress fashion show and a Mr. Sundress and Miss Sundress contest.

Monday, May 6
DJ Spyda’s known for his dancehall and soca bashments, but he's putting on a roots reggae jam at Tropicalia. Sharing turntable duties is Deejay Natty Kool, but the main act is veteran roots outfit Culture. Kenyatta Hill now leads the group, after taking over from his late father, Joseph Hill.

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