Nightlife Agenda: Fight Club with Elvis, ’80s alt-rock and college football

December 31, 2013

Every Tuesday, the Going Out Guide staff highlights the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties.

Public Service Announcement: Tonight is New Year's Eve. If you need last-minute plans -- dance parties, live music, bars that will be open as usual with no cover charges -- check out our guides to New Year's Eve for Procrastinators and what 2013's new bars and restaurants are doing for New Year's Eve. (Hint: Most of them are just open.)


Who -- or what -- will be brawling at Elvis' Birthday Fight Club this Friday night? (Photo by Stereo Vision/Courtesy of Astro Pop Events)

Wednesday, January 1
Maybe you don’t feel like coming out of pocket for a major disappointment on New Year’s Eve or you can’t get a sitter, so you’ll just watch the ball drop on TV. Perhaps you’ll decide to crack open a bottle of bubbly, lay out a spread and have friends over. Or maybe you're really going to get it in at the club on New Year's Eve. However you end up bidding farewell to 2013, start the new year with revelry at RedRocks’ new outpost on H Street NE. DJs will be rocking from noon to 8 p.m.  in the back room and on the rooftop patio, and the day party's menu will be fortified with bottomless mimosa and bloody mary deals.

D.C. rapper Wale continues to make power moves that keep him at the front of today's hip-hop pack. "The Gifted," his second offering on Rick Ross's Maybach Music Group label, topped the Billboard chart and featured a shrewd balance of lyricism and club hits, as well as a great E.U. sample on "Clappers." When Wale's home, he gets to go full go-go, so expect to see him backed by UCB on the Fillmore's stage.

Thursday, January 2
Steve Lawler makes house music that is more of a natural fit for U Street Music Hall than for a giant festival – it's deep and dark, with aggressive tribal percussion and sexy disco-ish sounds, perfect for closing your eyes and dancing for hours in a basement with a pitch-perfect soundsystem and unreal levels of bass. Get tickets in advance to save $5 off admission.

Friday, January 3
Elvis Presley would have turned 79 on Jan. 8, and the perfect way to celebrate the King’s birthday is to watch a man dressed like Col. Harland Sanders trade blows with someone in a giant chicken costume. Or that’s how it goes at Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club, anyway. The annual event combines burlesque dancers and music with performance-art-style brawls; previous editions have seen Martha Stewart take swings at the Swedish Chef, Sarah Palin fight Abe Lincoln, and Godzilla do battle with Bridezilla. (The list of this year’s performers is a carefully guarded secret.) Elvis (the fat version) and Kittie Glitter are the hosts of this absurd, wonderful and totally unmissable event at the Gala Hispanic Theatre. Buy tickets in advance, because it always sells out.

Saturday, January 4
Anyone who has spent a weekend night in Clarendon knows there's a surfeit of cover bands that play "Hungry Like the Wolf," "I Love Rock and Roll" or, in a pinch, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun." But if you prefer a different kind of '80s rock – think R.E.M. when they were a college band, the Police's non-top-40 material, the jangling alt-pop sounds of Cheap Trick and Midnight Oil, you should check out Long Duk Dong. The John Hughes-inspired name makes you think of bad Dewey bands, but this band is a million miles away from that, as the Plimsouls might say. They're all DC9 from 9:30 p.m. on, with DJ Andy O spinning more alternative tunes in between sets.

Or hey, if you just want to go dance to Boyz II Men, Nirvana, R. Kelly, the Spice Girls, Technotronic and Warren G all night, DJs Will Eastman and Brian Billion are back with yet another edition of their sure-to-sell-out all-'90s rager No Scrubs at the 9:30 Club.

Monday, January 6
On the first Monday of the month, former “Top Chef” contestant Mike Isabella throws a party at his Chinatown restaurant Graffiato. He invites friends in to cook — think Quickfire Challenge veteran Bryan Voltaggio of Range and Volt, Toki Underground chef Erik Bruner-Yang or award-winning chef Ed Lee of Louisville’s 610 Magnolia — and throws open the doors to the public. A $10 admission charge, half of which goes to charity, gets you as much food as you can eat and a chance to watch up close as the celebrity chefs hang out, do shots and prepare small plates in the open kitchen. (There are $5 cocktails and beers, too, which aren’t included in the cover.) January marks the first anniversary of Industry Takeover Night, so Isabella has assembled a strong team to create the night’s menu, including Victor Albisu of Del Campo, Scott Drewno of the Source, former Bourbon Steak chef Adam Sobel (now of San Francisco’s RN74) and former “Top Chef” contestant Jennifer Carroll. The upstairs level of Graffiato will be open to handle crowds and make it easier to get food and drinks. Good to know: Proceeds from the anniversary party benefit Meals on Wheels.

Auburn and Florida State wrap up college football season with a battle for the national championship at the Rose Bowl. While you'll be able to watch the game from any sports bar or the comfort of your couch, those with a vested interest will want to be surrounded by other people performing the Seminoles' "war chant" or screaming "War Eagle" at the top of their lungs. Florida State alumni gather at Union Pub on Capitol Hill for chopping and drink specials; if the bar fills up, there's extra space next door at 201. Auburn alumni can be found at BlackFinn in Merrifield, Crystal City Sports Pub, the Tortoise & Hare Bar & Grille in Crystal City, and the Mason Inn in Glover Park. We're partial to the latter, simply because it's a bar with a loyal SEC fanbase. There also are some great specials, including $10.75 Bud Light pitchers and $4 War Eagle shots.

Fritz Hahn has covered bars, drinks and nightlife for the Washington Post Weekend Section since 2003, but he also writes about everything from Civil War battlefields to sailing classes. You can find him on Twitter and Instagram.
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Maura Judkis · December 30, 2013