Nightlife Agenda

By Fritz Hahn and David Malitz Staff Writers
Thursday, February 28, 2008; 12:00 AM

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Thursday, February 28
There's a new place for salsa in Arlington. Costa Verde, a Peruvian restaurant located between the Clarendon and Virginia Square Metro stations, is making its debut tonight with live music by the outstanding Richmond band Bio Ritmo (listen) and classes by instructor Jeri Dembrak. Dembrak, who has built up a following in this area after years of teaching at nightclubs like Cecilia's and Nick's, is going to be hosting classes and dances at Costa Verde on Thursday and Saturday nights. The grand opening has a $10 cover, which includes beginner and intermediate salsa lessons between 7:30 and 9:30 and hors d'oeuvres. The restaurant has two levels with hardwood floors, and DJ Nancy Alonso will be spinning salsa, merengue, bachata and other music. Dress to impress.

We wish it didn't take such a tragic event to get reclusive songwriter/poet David Berman to come to town, but unfortunately, that's the case. Berman, an indie rock cult hero thanks to his work as frontman of Silver Jews, was the subject of "Sodium Fox," one of the mesmerizing video art installations made by Jeremy Blake and featured in the Corcoran's exhibition, "Wild Choir: Cinematic Portraits by Jeremy Blake," which closes Sunday. Blake committed suicide last summer, shortly after his longtime girlfriend Theresa Duncan did the same, bringing two promising lives to untimely ends. Berman -- who took more than a dozen years to finally tour with the Silver Jews -- will speak about his work and relationship with Blake. He should have some interesting insights to offer, as he has struggled with demons of his own, including drug abuse and attempted suicide.

Have you wished your favorite sideshow performer a "Happy International Sword Swallowers Day"? You haven't? Make up for it by taking them to the Palace of Wonders tonight, where resident daredevils Tyler Fyre & Thrill Kill Jill are celebrating the holiday by sticking a variety of sharp objects down their throats. The highlight should be the "how do they do that?" presentation and performance, where they'll reveal the secrets of not slicing open your esophagus. (For obvious reasons, you don't get to actually try it yourself -- even with the little sword in your martini olives.) Admission is $5, and the show-and-tell segment is at 9.

Of all the punk and hardcore bands to call Washington home, State of Alert holds a special appeal for Fritz. Featuring a young Henry Rollins (then just plain Henry Garfield), the loud-and-fast quartet played an aggressive style of hardcore. Other D.C. groups wrote songs about positive mental attitudes and the power of a drug-free lifestyle; SOA eschewed these for tracks about untrustworthy girlfriends ("Girl Problems") or pure, naked violence ("Gonna Have to Fight"). The band broke up in 1981, shortly before Rollins joined Black Flag, with only nine shows and one EP to its name. While Rollins has gone on to fame as a singer, author, actor and TV host, SOA drummer Simon Jacobsen took a very different tack. He and SOA bandmate Michael Hampton played in a not-so-serious duo called the Snakes, but then Jacobsen left the punk scene to get a Master of Architecture degree from the Chicago School of Architecture and follow in the footsteps of his father, the award-winning architect Hugh Newell Jacobsen. The younger Jacobsen now serves as CEO and supervisor of his father's firm. Tonight at the Modernist Society, he'll talk about everything from the origins of Dischord Records to the gorgeous new winery the firm designed for John Kent Cooke in Middleburg, an he'lll take questions from the audience. There's no cover, and Bourbon offers $3 drink specials from 9 p.m. on.

Friday, February 29
We will probably never understand the endless enthusiasm the bar-going public has for '80s music. Heaven and Hell's weekly all-'80s dance night has been running for almost 15 years -- five more than the Me Decade lasted the first time around. DJs spinning day-glo hits take over the Black Cat's mainstage and the Red and the Black's upstairs room on a regular basis. To which we say: Enough. Let's fixate on something else for a while. Like ... the '90s! Now there's a decade ripe for reevaluation: Grunge, New Jack Swing, Native Tongues, Britpop, baggy, the rise of Lollapalooza and whatever it is Alanis and House of Pain did. DJs Will Eastman and Brian Billion promises to haul out all of that -- plus everything from Arrested Development to Wreckx-N-Effect -- at No Scrubs, a '90s dance night at the Black Cat. They've put together a little preview mix you can download if you want to know what you're in for. Feel good as you shake your rump: Proceeds from the event benefit Project Create, a free after-school arts program for at-risk kids.

Local rockers the Apes (listen) must chuckle when they see the quick success of upstart local groups like Jukebox the Ghost, Le Loup and others. Those bands seemed to lead charmed lives, finding success from the outset of their careers. The Apes, meanwhile, have had an experience that's more the norm, including lineup shifts, label jumps and a whole lot of flying under the radar over the course of their decade together. It seems to be time well spent, though, as the band's latest (and debut for Gypsy Eyes), "Ghost Games," is its strongest to date. It's the first album to feature vocalist Breck Brunson, who injects some energy into the band that had previously been best known for heavy, sludgy rock. There's still plenty of guitar-free mayhem, but it feels lighter and less hazy, showing off improved songwriting chops. The band celebrates the release of its new album at the Black Cat with Kid Congo Powers (listen) and Food for Animals (listen).

Today is February 29, a k a Leap Day, and since it only falls on a Friday once every 28 years, there are a bunch of opportunistic -- er, parties to mark the occasion.

Clarendon Ballroom's Leap Year Jam features a double shot of Dewey Beach party rock with Kristen and the Noise (watch) and Burnt Sienna (listen), plus DJ Pat Premier in the downstairs lounge. Have a few Coronas and pretend it's a balmy June weekend. Get there before 8 to skip the $10 cover.

Leap year "gives us one extra day to play with," according to the promoters behind the Freeday Friday Leapday Party at Eyebar, and they're taking the idea of the "free day" to mean free admission -- all night for women, until midnight for men -- and drink specials like $5 Belvedere cocktails. RSVP at

DJs Meistro and Mish-Diesel, meanwhile, point out that this is the fifth Friday in the month of February, which is an extremely rare occurrence. They'll be celebrating by spinning hip-hop, reggae and other dance music at the Space, the quasi-private club in Shaw. There's no cover charge.

A few weeks ago, we had the Wammies, the much-derided local music awards ceremony. In the spirit of "If you want something done right ...," D.C.'s finest reggae musicians are getting together this weekend for the 11th annual D.C. Reggae Awards. The three days of parties include the actual awards ceremony, a "secret" Saturday night bash and a gospel brunch at Zanzibar. This year, the theme is a "Tribute to Bob Marley and Dennis Brown." Tonight's awards show is hosted by WKYS DJs EZ Street and Jeannie Jones, and features performances by the mighty S.T.O.R.M. Reggae Band (listen) and a rack of local talent, including Mr. Tex and Tweeta Bird, Odelia, Delroy and Andrea, Ziah and Hutchy. Tickets are $15 from Doors at the Nativiy Colonnade Ballroom open at 9, and the main event begins at "10:30 sharp." Need more incentive to arrive on time? The first 300 folks through the door get free passes to the Saturday party, which is being held at an undisclosed location.

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