Every Tuesday, the Going Out Gurus highlight the week's best DJs, bands, dance nights and parties. Here are a few we think you can't miss:
Mardi Gras: There are many way to celebrate Fat Tuesday in D.C., from beads-and-beer bashes to high-end happy hours. (We've posted a selection of the best elsewhere on our blog.) But if you want to do Mardi Gras right, you need a parade, live music and good Cajun food. Here are two ideas: Foggy Bottom's Bayou will have live music from noon to midnight, but the party will really kick off when the brass section of Yamomanem marches from the Dupont Circle fountain to the restaurant. (Meet at the fountain at 4 p.m. if you want to join in.) At the restaurant, there'll be an all-you-can-eat buffet ($20 from 5 to 9 p.m.) and tunes by Yamomanem, the Dixie Power Trio and the Texas Chainsaw Horns. In Arlington, Bayou Bakery is shutting down the street for a Bayou Block Party from 5 to 11 p.m. There will be traditional sandwiches and oysters, Abita beer and rum cocktails. Dress in your festive carnival best, and you could win a place of honor riding on Bayou Bakery's float in Clarendon's annual Mardi Gras parade, which begins at 8 p.m.
Valentine's Day: Valentine's procrastinators rejoice: There's an embarrassment of options to step out with a sweetie and enjoy music on Thursday. Cody Chesnutt is bringing his garage soul and funk rock to the Hamilton. Panamanian rap duo Los Rakas will be dropping multilingual rhymes over dancehall and reggaeton at Tropicalia. Jesse Boykins III is on fire right now and should be next on your list if "Channel Orange" rocked your 2012. He's bringing his smoldering new wave soul to Liv. Jazz vocalist Loide will be downstairs in the Bohemian Caverns for an intimate evening of acoustic jazz paired with a prix-fixe Valentine's menu.
Of course, if you're more in the mood for a dance party than live music, there are plenty of those. At the Black Cat, bartender extraordinaire Chad America hosts his 14th annual Valentine's Day Rock and Roll Dance Party, with DJs Mad Squirrel, Baby Alcatraz and Soul Call Paul spinning girl groups, doo-wop, '50s jump blues and rockabilly love songs for free on the backstage. DJ Neville C (a.k.a. Som Records owner Neal Becton) will be trawling his huge collection of vinyl for "Songs of Love, Hate and Lust" at Dodge City. At the Dunes, "My Shriveled Black Heart" is an anti-Valentine's Day comedy-and-music festival hosted by stand-up comic Jenn Tisdale (You, Me, Them, Everybody) and Andrew Bucket. And we're not entirely sure what to make of the Bad Prom at Looking Glass Lounge: $5 Natty Boh-and-Jim Beam combos and free crunkcakes? Awesome. Slow jams? Sweet. Nametags so it'll feel " like a JDate mixer"? Hmm. Roxette's breakup anthem "It Must Have Been Love (But It's Over Now)" every hour on the half hour? Um… But there will be half-price nachos, so it's all good.
Saturday: For five years, the eight DJs of Fatback have provided some of the sweatiest, grooviest, euphoric nights of dancing in the nation's capital. They'd spin anything funky or soulful - from Aretha Franklin to Luther Vandross, the Isley Brothers to R. Kelly, the Jacksons to Jackie Wilson - to get the packed house grooving and shaking tambourines. But five years is a long time for a monthly commitment, and the Fatback boys are wrapping up their run at Liv after one final throwdown. They'll be taking over all three levels of the building - Bohemian Caverns, Tap and Parlour, and Liv for multiple dance floors with guest selecters. Fatback parties regularly hit capacity; we won't be surprised if there's a line down the block earlier than usual.
Still need more ideas? Keep reading for the Brixton's new reggae night, the return of Texas Is the Reason and the annual tribute to J. Dilla.
Tuesday, Feb. 12
The three-level Brixton pub is named after South London's musically rich neighborhood - an area with deep ties to Jamaica and the glory days of the '60s and '70s reggae scene. Until now, the bar hasn't done much to play up its reggae connections, leaving that to sister club Patty Boom Boom a few blocks west. But that's changing, starting with a new weekly party called the One Love Jam Down. Every Tuesday night, the Arkives, a classic reggae band that works with Thievery Corporation and records for the ESL Music label, will perform in the second-floor lounge with rotating guest vocalists and no cover charge. The new residency begins this week with Thievery singer Sista Pat.
Wednesday, Feb. 13
DJ Asho splits time between D.C. and New York. The one commonality? His events are always a gathering of Cuban ex-pats, plus anyone else in the community that loves son, timba, and other Cuban roots rhythms. Get your rumba on at El Rincon Espanol.
Friday, Feb. 15
Texas Is the Reason released one album and a handful of singles in the mid-'90s and broke up years before the band's anthemic, heart-on-sleeve indie-punk became a major influence on the mainstream emo bands of the new millennium. But now the band is back together, working on an album and making a triumphal reunion tour, which kicks off Friday night at the Black Cat.
Sunday, Feb. 17
Presidents' Day. Another No Work/No School Monday. That means it's time for a party Sunday night. At Cafe Asia, the Presidential All-Star Party is a banner night of smooth "grown and sexy" go-go, headlined by Familiar Faces. Featuring three members of the legendary group Rare Essence, including conga player Milton "Go-Go Mickey" Freeman, Familiar Faces brings an impressive percussive energy to its mix of originals and jazzy covers of R&B and urban contemporary hits. Vybe Band and Secret Society open. Tickets are $20 in advance and include a complementary Asian buffet.
Every February, a posse of D.C.’s best selectors gather to tag-team their way through an expert curation of the catalog of the departed but always celebrated hip-hop super producer J Dilla, who worked with A Tribe Called Quest, Busta Rhymes, the Pharcyde and Common. D.C. Loves Dilla one of the best ways to experience the breadth of his work, as the DJs mine the well-known as well as the lost elements of his catalog, and you’re surrounded by fans who are all equally devoted to the beats. Ten DJs pay homage at U Street Music Hall, including Waajeed of Slum Village, Book, 2-Tone Jones and Quartermaine. Dilla's mother, "Ma Dukes" Yancey, is the special guest. As always, the proceeds go to the J Dilla Foundation.