Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Find a longer list of events on www.goingoutguide.com.
Wednesday, August 28
Spirits in Black is like no other cocktail party in Washington. As DJs spin the loudest and hardest heavy metal, everything from classic Metallica to the Sword's newest album, a team of top-notch guest bartenders shakes up a special menu of drinks with such names as The Thing That Should Not Be, and Blood and Thunder. Spirits in Black used to be a regular event at American Ice Company, but its creators now take it on the road. This installment, held in the Black Cat's Red Room, features well-known mixologists Jeff Faile (Fiola) and Owen Thomson (Range) behind the bar. The DJ lineup includes Mike Schleibaum, the guitarist for local thrash-metal stars Darkest Hour.
Thursday, August 29
Immersing yourself in the sounds of Ethiopian music opens you up to fascinating non-Western scales, modes and time signatures. Years ago in the horn of Africa, musicians were placing these ancient musical structures in a jazz context. To experience how these worlds can collide and meld, check out the Feedel Band, bringing four decades of Ethio-jazz to Tropicalia this week. DJ Tommy T of Gogol Bordello opens the night.
Friday, August 30
This is the time of year when Michael Jackson fans get heavy in the heart. The feeling sets in more intensely as his Aug. 29 birthday approaches, and the only way to get your spirit right is to blame it on the boogie and turn the disco out. You just have to choose wisely though - don't play yourself by partying with folks who can't do justice to the King of Pop's rich and varied catalog. You have to work the hits, but you need the B-sides and album cuts as well. You have to create a narrative that doesn't just rely on nostalgia. Let DJ Dredd be your guide during MJ Day at the 9:30 Club and you'll be covered. Shamon.
If you've ever wanted to stand onstage at the Black Cat and bark out the words to Fugazi's "Waiting Room" or Minor Threat's "Minor Threat," this weekend is your chance. The semi-regular Punk Rock Karaoke is making a return to the backstage, with hundreds of songs from the likes of Black Flag, the Clash, the Sex Pistols, Jawbreaker, Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Wire, Rancid, the Dead Kennedys – almost anything your heart could desire. Arrive early to sign up for the most popular songs. The $8 cover benefits the Wayside Center for Popular Education, a non-profit resource center in central Virginia.
Federico Peña has spent years lending his incredible keyboard chops to superstars and emerging musicians alike, while consistently repping D.C. to the world. As a sideman and studio top gun, Peña's inventive right hand and intricate chord work have shared musical space with Meshell Ndegeocello, Maxwell and George Duke. As a leader, his playing is fearless and composed, exciting and expansive. He leads his Emergence quartet for two nights at Bohemian Caverns.
Saturday, August 31
Yes, there's a concert on the Capitol lawn this weekend, but our favorite end-of-summer musical tradition is the DC Blues Festival at Carter Barron. The festival turns 25 this year, and it's still a free, family-friendly day out. The concert is headlined by Albert Castiglia, a Florida guitarist who plays blistering solos in the vein of Albert Collins, but you'll also hear performances by some of the District's top blues musicians, including Fast Eddie and the Slowpokes and the D.C. Blues Society Band. A side stage has instruments kids can play with, plus special workshops for kids and adults led by pro musicians.
The '80s Dance Party was one of the District's most popular weekly DJ nights in the '90s and '00s. (In fact, the weekly melange of '80s pop hits, John Hughes movies and sequin-wearing bachelorette parties ran longer than the decade it celebrated.) After a falling out with the owners of longtime home Heaven & Hell, the Dance Party dropped off the map. But that's changed, now that original '80s Dance Party promoter Steve Donahoe is working with Black Whiskey, the laid-back bar and performance venue on lower 14th Street NW. The party makes its debut at Black Whiskey this weekend with familiar faces, including longtime host Neal "The Angel" Keller in the DJ booth spinning the Pet Shop Boys, New Order and Kajagoogoo. It's got plenty to offer those looking for a shot of nostalgia, and also shouldn't have much trouble pulling in hordes of 14th Street bar-crawlers looking for a place to dance.
Calling an artist "trailblazing" is often a cliche, but not when you're talking about Salt n Pepa, the first ladies of hip-hop. They haven't recorded since 1997, but hits like "Push It" and "Shoop" will still draw fans old and young to the Howard Theatre.
Sunday, September 1
The backlash against Russia's anti-gay laws continues to build. Town's "WTF" party, which is always held on Sunday nights before federal holidays, is taking on a Russian theme this month, with music spun by DJs Ed Bailey and Aaron Riggins, dance performances, drag revues, comedy and drink specials. (As always, organizers try to keep the specifics a surprise. If you've got a furry ushanka hat lying around at home, this is the night to wear it.) A portion of the proceeds will go to the Russian LGBT Network, a NGO umbrella group, and attendees will be able to record short video messages of support for Russian LGBT citizens.