This week's essential DJs, happy hours, dance nights and parties.
Thursday, September 4
Gin and tequila are among the spirits with their own National [Fill-in-the-Blank] Days. D.C. Beer receives its own week. But Bourbon – "America's Native Spirit," according to Congress – gets its own Bourbon Heritage Month every September. Jack Rose, one of the finest whiskey bars in America, is celebrating accordingly, featuring tastings and flights from a different distillery every Thursday. Things kick off with Kentucky Bourbon Distillers, known for its Willett bourbons and ryes, and one of Fritz's favorite-ever distilleries. There will be at least 14 Willetts available on Jack Rose's rooftop, ranging from six- and nine-year-old bourbons ($7-$9 per glass) to 21- and 23-year-old barrel proof bourbons ($24-$27 per taste). Look for rarities, such as a 1986 bottle of Pure Kentucky, and special tasting flights. The event runs from 6 to 11 p.m., though some barrels are very limited, and early arrival is suggested.
John Wall turns 24 years old on Saturday, but he's hosting a pre-birthday celebration at the Park at 14th tonight. RSVP on the Park's Web site for free admission before 11 p.m. DJs will be spinning hip-hop and R&B all night, and the lounge will show the Seahawks-Packers game at 8:30.
Friday, September 5
Two years have gone by pretty fast since Tropicalia opened on U Street, providing a much-needed performance space for international bands and DJs. They've built on this premise to consistently program events around top world-fusion talent. To celebrate the subterranean club's second birthday, San Francisco's Afrolicious DJ duo brings the full ten-piece band to really rock their combination of African beats and funk. They are joined by psychadelic Afrobeat band Zongo Junction and Tropicalia residents Congo Y Castro.
Two things we love about Moneytown: A seemingly endless stream of soul and funk spun from the original vinyl, and DJ Nitekrawler's frequent guests from across the country, who open our ears to what people are grooving to in California, Texas or Chicago. This month, the dance party at Little Miss Whiskey's welcomes DJs Secondliner & jLa, the owners of Austin's all-45s record shop Breakaway Records, and co-residents at the Texas capital's Soul Happening! night, where they drop Texas and Northern Soul, funk and boogaloo. Nitekrawler will have his usual mix of super-rare local tunes and killer rarities, beginning at 10 p.m. It's free, as always.
The Brooklyn-based psychedelic outfit Prince Rama is coming to Washington for a long weekend: They're DJing from 10 p.m. until close at Bloomingdale's Showtime Lounge on Friday night, before performing their mix of Sanskrit chants, droning synths and trippy percussion Monday night at Comet Ping Pong. The group can sometimes come off as more of an art project than a serious band, but a performance is always an experience.
Saturday, September 6
Time flies when you're brewing good beer: This weekend marks the first anniversary of the Atlas Brew Works. Head to the Ivy City brewery on Saturday afternoon for a rollicking birthday party. Music comes from excellent local garage rock trio Sunwolf, the rootsy jazz of Bumper Jacksons and Baltimore's grungey Unstable Heights. Food trucks, including Cap Mac and DC Sliders, provide the food while you sip Rowdy Rye, NSFW double IPA or Home Rule IPL. The $10 ticket includes your first beer and a donation to the Washington Humane Society; after that, you buy your own pints or tasters. The party runs from 1 to 5 p.m.
We probably don't need to point out that summer's not officially over until Sept. 22 – have you been outside this week? – but that doesn't mean some people aren't ready to say sayonara. The Summer Kiss-Off at Black Whiskey on Saturday features free admission, free pool (winner stays on the table) and rock, soul and disco spun by DJ Nightbird, also known as U.S. Royalty singer John Thornley. Doors open at 10 p.m.
Retro DJ nights have been popping up all over in recent weeks, and now it's DJ Ed Bailey's turn: The man behind Town Danceboutique takes to the decks on Saturday night for Funkytown, a night of pop music and videos from the '70s, '80s and '90s. (DJ Wess will be spinning up-to-date tunes downstairs if you need a break.) The cover is $8 from 10 to 11 p.m. and $12 after.
Sunday, September 7
Who doesn't love a bloody mary on Sunday morning? How about 20 of them? The local chapter of the United States Bartenders Guild has organized a friendly competition at the St. Regis Hotel that finds 20 top mixologists offering their takes on the legendary eye opener. Participants include Rico Wisner (Graffiato), Megan Barnes (Compass Rose), Lukas Smith (Daikaya) and Charles Tappen (Barmini), and the $40 ticket includes as many bloodys as you wish to sample, plus breakfast hors d'oeuvres and a talk about the history of the cocktail. Just remember to vote for your favorite concoction when you're done sampling. Doors open at noon, and the party goes until 3:30 p.m.
The South has been the most defining influence on the sound of hip-hop for so long that you can now parse it out into generations: You've got early stuff like Swishahouse, Geto Boys, and No Limit, the first Atlanta renaissance of the Dungeon Family, and on to today's rap scene where even New York-based artists adopt the Southern blueprint. You can get trill to all of these sounds during Grits & Biscuits this weekend at the 9:30 Club, where DJ E.Z. Mo Breezy's jam is so popular that it sold out Saturday night. Thankfully, there's a second party on Sunday, but you should get your tickets before it sells out, too.