Nightlife Agenda: Rickeys, Wonderland and a dance party in Rock Creek Park

July 30

The DJs, bands, dance nights and parties you need to plan for this week.


Wonderland Ballroom, which became known for its electric DJ nights and cheap happy hours in the mid-2000s, celebrates its 10th anniversary this week. (Photo by Evy Mages for The Washington Post)

Thursday, July 31
While we've been itching to try the National Building Museum's BIG Maze for the last few weeks, the museum's family-friendly reputation has made us hesitate. (No, really, we're sure your kids are great, but a lot of the children running around last summer's playable mini-golf exhibit weren't.) We're looking forward to a more grown-up crowd this Thursday when the NBM keeps the doors open until 9 p.m. for the BIG Maze Late Night. From 5 to 9 p.m., you can check out the museum and get lost in the labyrinth, and pair the adventure with live music and barbecue on the lawn at Hill Country Backyard BBQ.

Friday, August 1
Need to dance? We've got the perfect show for you tonight. Orgone is one of the most solid funk and soul acts on the road today. The L.A. group's grooves, driven by wah-wah guitars, a tight horn section and rubbery basslines, wouldn't sound out of place crackling out of the radio of a '70s Cadillac or on the soundtrack of your favorite Blaxploitation flick. Orgone is paired with hometown Afrobeat and soul favorites Funk Ark at Gypsy Sally's.

The explosion of turntablism in the 1980s and '90s seems like ancient history in today's era of button-pushing EDM charlatans, but a few key artists defined that era and continue to deliver the best of what a DJ performance can be. The Beat Junkies came out of the same California scene that spawned Jurassic 5 and Peanut Butter Wolf, and created the blueprint for party-rocking technicians. Champion battle DJ Babu (also known for his work with Dilated Peoples) and Rhettmatic will be at The Lodge at RedRocks tonight, along with "special guests," but any combo of the 15 crew members is a must-see experience, especially when it's free.

On the first Friday of the month, Mandu hands its kitchen over to a team of guest chefs for a late-night party called Anju. If you haven't been yet, this is the time to go: Katsuya Fukushima and the Daikaya team are taking control of the menu and the cocktails. The first item teased on Mandu's Facebook page: Mapo Tofu Frito Pie. We're hooked. The event itself is crowded, but lively, and the small-plate format is fun to explore. (It's not too expensive, either: Last month's menu had three dishes for $15.) Doors open at 10 p.m.

Saturday, August 2
The Summer Spirit Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion is definitely a D.C. bucket list event. Our memories of this annual day-long celebration of classic and modern soul include the Godfather Chuck Brown tearing the whole place down and acts like Estelle and the Foreign Exchange introducing themselves to crowds on the way to successful careers. One hallmark of the festival is that go-go is prominently featured, so it feels like a true D.C. affair. This year's exciting slate includes Junkyard Band, Backyard Band, Talib Kweli, Janelle Monae and Meshell Ndegeocello, with Ms. Lauryn Hill as the headliner.

Sunday, August 3
The Blackbyrds' "Rock Creek Park" is an anthem that summons every happy feeling that summer brings, whether you're a fan of classic soul, rare grooves or just love D.C. It's such an enduring song that soul music devotees make pilgrimages to Rock Creek Park to say they saw its namesake in person. With this storied history in mind, the park jam going down in Rock Creek Park this Sunday is shaping up to be a beautiful affair. The Grits & Gravy and Daylight DJs have been the preeminent crews curating parties of R&B dance classics in DC for years, and they're teaming up for this one with special guests DJ Eskimo and DJ Zulu. The jams kick off at Rock Creek Park's Picnic Grove 8 (Beach Drive, north of the golf course) at noon and go until dusk, rain or shine.

For the last month, more than 50 bartenders throughout the Washington area have serving their takes on the classic rickey cocktail – a 19th century mix of gin or bourbon, lime juice and soda water. This Sunday, seven of them will vie to have their drink crowned the best in Washington during the annual Rickey Month Party at Jack Rose. Pay $35 at the door and you'll get unlimited rickeys from the finalists from 4 to 8 p.m., as well as passed hors d'oeuvres.

(The full list of finalists: Dustin Beruta of Cashion's Eat Place, Lukas B. Smith of Daikaya, Eve Maier of Hank's Oyster Bar, Galen Odell-Smedley of Mockingbird Hill, Brian Nixon of Rose's Luxury, and Jo-Jo Valenzuela and Casey Hristakos of Sixth Engine.)

Unless you lived in Columbia Heights 10 years ago, you can't imagine the days when the Wonderland Ballroom was the only bar on the 11th Street NW strip. Heck, it was one of the only places for drinking and dancing in the entire neighborhood, which fostered a great sense of community and too many first dates to count. (Maybe that was the seemingly endless flow of Delirium Tremens?) Wonderland is coming up on its 10th anniversary, and owners Matthew McGovern and Rose Donna are hosting a party on the bar's patio. Happy hour starts at 4 p.m. and runs all night.

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.
Comments
Show Comments
Most Read Entertainment
Next Story
Lavanya Ramanathan · July 30