8 things to do in the D.C. area on the weekend of May 9-11

May 8

The weekend’s best in nightlife, music and art. For even more, check out Nightlife Agenda.


The annual Shortcut to Europe event is one of the most popular spring events in the District, allowing locals and tourists to get a peek at how the other half (by which we mean diplomats) really lives, with tours and food and performances scattered across European embassies. (Photo provided by European Union Delegation to the United States)

Saturday: Didn't land a ticket to Saturday's sold-out Sweetlife Festival? You can spare yourself some of the self-flagellating and head to The Yards on the Southeast riverfront, which is hosting Side Yards, its first sideshow-style festival, with three stages featuring sword-swallowers, contortionists, magicians and fire-breathers. (So you know, it's totally an average Saturday in the park.) Also on tap are beers being served by Bluejacket, and music from D.C. bands Drop Electric, Shark Week and U.S. Royalty. The free event is set for 5 to 10 p.m. at Yards Park, 355 Water St. SE.

Saturday: If you're hoping to sample some Belgian chocolate or learn about Latvia, Saturday's Shortcut to Europe -- when the 28 member states of the European Union will open their embassies -- is your day.  Most of the embassies are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (Portugal will close at 1 p.m.) Actual passports are not required, though many embassies require photo ID.  Shuttle buses will be available for travel between embassies on specific routes. Visit www.euopenhouse.org for a shuttle map and the list of participating embassies. Read: Our top stops for the Shortcut to Europe embassy tours.

Saturday:  Phish isn't the only musical act that can bring on the feeling of an acid trip: Singer-songwriter Kaki King is bringing her project, "The Neck is a Bridge to the Body," to Artisphere, transforming its Dome Theater into a visual projection of the guitar. The performer will play a guitar designed to be its own projection screen, and use software that will pick up every strum and twang and turn it into a spiraling image of itself. She'll perform two shows Saturday night as part of Artisphere's ambitious new exhibition of sound art, "Fermata." Tickets for the concert are $18-$22; a reception for the exhibition on Thursday from 7 to 9 p.m. is free. Read: Review of 'Fermata' at Artisphere.

Through June 8: Synetic Theater is perhaps best known for mining William Shakespeare's oeuvre for its most dark and seedy archetypes, transforming them into bleak, wordless and totally body-driven pieces the theater has dubbed "Silent Shakespeare. " So it's really stepping out of its comfort zone for its latest show, "Three Men in a Boat (To Say Nothing of the Dog)," a play which is neither silent nor Shakespearean. It's an iconic old work by  Jerome K. Jerome and brings together talented local actors making their Synetic debut: Tom Story and Tim Getman. Tickets are $10-$55; get them here. Read: Synetic branches out with ‘Three Men in a Boat.’

Saturday-Aug. 2:  It's impossible to predict when and where weather-related disasters will strike years in advance, but that's what modern architecture is increasingly being asked to do. The National Building Museum's new exhibition, "Designing for Disaster,"  looks at how such public transportation networks and buildings as airports, hospitals and schools are being reinforced and safeguarded against the earthquakes, floods and hurricanes of the future. $8; $5 for students, seniors and ages 3 to 17.

Saturday: A ritual of Savor weekend, the Third Annual Brewers Brunch at Birch & Barley is the best reason to drag yourself out of bed after a night of beer sampling. Birch & Barley's chefs prepare a special menu of entrees and pastries paired with ales from participating Savor breweries. It's also a chance to hobnob with some of the biggest names in the brewing world, including Garret Oliver of the Brooklyn Brewery, Peter Bouckaert of New Belgium, Steve Grossman of Sierra Nevada and Phil Wymore of Perennial Artisan Ales. This event sells out every year, and for good reason. Tickets are $55. Call 202-567-2576 to make a reservation.

Saturday-June 7: It wouldn't be summer in Washington without a few local theaters unbuttoning a bit and letting in the heat (and a bit of humor). Keegan Theatre kicks off the steamy, seamy summer with the play "Things You Shouldn't Say Past Midnight," a romp about how rapidly three couples' sex lives unravel thanks to a few poorly chosen words. They probably should have called it an early night. Tickets, $25-$30, are available here.

Sunday-Oct. 5: "Degas/Cassatt" is an unusual exhibition that peers back to the late 1870s into the 1880s, when impressionists Edgar Degas and Mary Cassatt became close. Comparing and contrasting their work from that period, the show delves into how Degas shaped Cassatt's work, but also looks at how the American painter influenced the French artist. The free show, which features dozens of examples of their work, opens Sunday at the National Gallery of Art's West Building.

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