Monday, Dec. 31
Black Cat New Year’s Eve Ball at the Black Cat: The Black Cat has been a home away from home for Washington’s punks, music fans and misfits for a quarter-century. The intimate Backstage concert room has been a proving ground for nascent bands and dance parties (and slumming rock stars like Beck), while the divey, cash-only Red Room bar, above, was 14th Street’s living room before developers and restaurateurs realized the neighborhood’s potential. Both are closing Tuesday, as the nightclub consolidates into a bar/concert venue hybrid. The last hurrah is the Cat’s traditional two-parties-in-one New Year’s Eve: Sassy Peaches O’Dell and her band swing their way through “Puttin’ on the Ritz” and “Sing, Sing, Sing” on the main stage; renowned party-rocker DJ Dredd spins Prince, Madonna and retro dance grooves on the Backstage; and Black Cat regulars try to get in a few more games of pool and pinball before one of Washington’s best no-nonsense bars closes forever. 7 p.m. $30.
New Year’s Eve at EatBar: Everything is retro at EatBar’s Low-Key New Year’s Eve: Chef Nate Anda has prepared a menu featuring pepperoni hot pockets, corn dogs and other childhood favorites. “Mario Kart” and “Street Fighter 2” are among the Super Nintendo games that can be played on the TV. The free jukebox is stocked with ’80s and ’90s hits. The difference: You’re old enough to drink this time, whether it’s the bar’s $25 bottomless bubbly or the usual menu of a la carte craft beers and cocktails. Doors open at 4 p.m., so you can stop by the Barracks Row bar for a drink and video games before heading off to another event. 4 p.m. No cover charge; food and drinks priced individually.
Dov Davidoff at the DC Improv: New York stand-up Dov Davidoff is the headliner for two New Year’s Eve shows at the cozy comedy club. A brash observational comic known for his recurring role on HBO’s “Crashing,” Davidoff understands that New Year’s Eve comes with heightened expectations. “It’s not that I’m not up for fulfilling expectations — it’s sometimes they’re unrealistic,” he says. “Does anything live up to someone’s idea of what New Year’s Eve should be? That includes the ball in Times Square — once it drops, you’re like, ‘That was it?’ ” The Improv’s 10:15 p.m. countdown show will include complimentary champagne, a fruit-and-cheese plate and party favors. 7:30 and 10:15 p.m. $35-$75.
New Year’s Eve at Green Zone: One of Adams Morgan’s brightest new additions celebrates the New Year with an appearance by DJ Muath — Syrian musician Muath Edriss — spinning dabke, chobi and other Middle Eastern dance music while bartenders sling arrack, seasonal spiced cocktails and French champagne, beginning at 5 p.m.
Tuesday, Jan. 1
Smithsonian Year of Music at the Smithsonian Castle: Last April, the Smithsonian declared that 2019 would be its year to showcase its vast collection of music. That means there will be music programming from the museums during every one of the 365 days of the new year — or for as long as the government will be open in 2019. Tuesday’s kickoff event will feature a performance in front of the Smithsonian Castle from multiple street and brass bands, including Baltimore’s The Band-Marching Unit, who will lead the event onto the Mall. 2 p.m. Program runs through 2019. Free.
Wale & Friends at the Fillmore Silver Spring: Now in its eighth year, Wale’s annual New Year’s Day party celebrates the past year and kicks off the new one. The D.C. rap ambassador will be doing both, after building buzz with a trio of 2018 EPs that paved the way for a forthcoming album on a new label. But his party is also about the “friends” of its title. Previous years have featured such heavyweights as Rick Ross and J. Cole, but the show is best when showcasing the DMV’s next-up talent. Last year, it was Rico Nasty and Q Da Fool; you’ll have to be at the Fillmore to see who’s up next. 8 p.m. $39.50.
Wednesday, Jan. 2
‘The Social Power of Music’ at Songbyrd: In anticipation of this year’s annual Smithsonian Folklife Festival, which begins in late June, Songbyrd hosts a listening party of classic American songs that have been the fuel of social movements — think Woody Guthrie’s “This Land is Your Land” or the union anthem “Solidarity Forever.” All the songs on the forthcoming Smithsonian Folkways collection “The Social Power of Music” tell the story of how music and the arts have been used to transform lives in America. 6 p.m. Free.
Holiday Schmoliday Party at Showtime Bar: The Bloomingdale bar already marches to the beat of its own drum, with a house band led by an octogenarian and a free jukebox filled with deep cuts of R&B and soul, so it makes sense that its holiday party happens after all the holidays are over. Guest bartenders will serve drinks while some of the usual staff take turns DJing for the night. Be sure to take advantage of their standard $5 beer-and-shot combos. 8 p.m. No cover charge; drink prices vary.
Thursday, Jan. 3
‘Getting Hygge With It’ at the Phillips Collection: The popular Phillips After 5 event is dialing down the high-energy festivities and getting cozy the Scandinavian way. Hygge — a Danish term that describes a general way of living in comfort and wellness — has been growing in popularity stateside. The museum near Dupont Circle will be serving mulled wine and smoky bourbon, and you can snuggle up in their courtyard with blankets and heaters. Guests can also knit, watch Swedish films and dance in a silent disco. Bring a package of unused socks — preferably children’s — to donate to local charity Martha’s Table and get a free drink ticket. 5 to 8:30 p.m. $12; $10 for visitors 62 and older and students.
Ozomatli at the 9:30 Club: Before J Balvin and Bad Bunny made reggaeton and Latin trap mainstream — and even before artists like Enrique Iglesias and Shakira crossed over at the turn of the millennium — there was Ozomatli. The Los Angeles six-piece formed in 1995 and has spent two decades mothering a melting pot of rock, hip-hop, jazz, funk and a variety of Latin styles, including salsa, cumbia and merengue. Along the way, they’ve opened for Carlos Santana and collaborated with Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na and turntablist Cut Chemist, reliably churning out globe-trotting grooves and fighting for the rights of workers and immigrants around the world. 7 p.m. $30.
Super MAGFest at the Gaylord National Resort: For four days, over 20,000 gaming enthusiasts from around the world will gather — many in cosplay — at National Harbor for the annual Music and Gaming Festival, also known as Super MAGFest. Unlike most video-game conventions, MAGFest retains an independent business model — the event eschews major corporate sponsors and instead relies on donations and ticket sales to drive its nonprofit operations. The festival’s robust schedule offers nearly 96 straight hours of gaming tournaments, panel discussions, educational lectures, live music, vendors, and access to hundreds of arcade, tabletop, LAN and console games. It’s an ambitious and outlandish event that should appeal to both die-hard gamers and curious spectators. Through Sunday. $75-$85.
Bluegrass & Beer Festival at Union Stage: This is a beer pairing we can really get behind. Alexandria’s Port City Brewing Company sponsors two nights of free local bluegrass shows at the Wharf, starting with Western Maryland’s high-octane Plate Scrapers, who regularly perform at breweries and bars around the region, and Alexandria’s rootsy Two Ton Twig. Friday brings longtime D.C. favorites Hollertown and Split String Soup. Both shows, of course, will feature plenty of fresh Port City beer on tap, including Long Black Veil Black IPA and the rare Dunkel lager. Through Friday. 8 p.m. Free.
Friday, Jan. 4
Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club at the GALA Hispanic Theatre: Part performance art, part comedy and all delicious pop-culture kitsch, Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club is an annual tradition for Washingtonians. Seven highly choreographed bouts between real and imaginary foes — previous years have included Freddie Mercury vs. Queen Elizabeth II or Redskins owner Daniel Snyder vs. a Native American — veer off in unexpected directions, while burlesque dancers and trivia contests entertain between rounds. Truly a night like no other. Through Saturday. Friday at 8 p.m. and Saturday at 9:30 p.m. $25-$35.
Rob Stokes at Songbyrd: Ask Rob Stokes how he learned to write such topsy-turvy, achy-breaky love songs, and he’ll explain how he got his start in an acid-jazz troupe that once landed a gig playing fusion inside a Pittsburgh grocery store. After that, things got weird. Stokes moved to the District for college and into a Foggy Bottom group house, where he could host psychedelic jam sessions (he’d play the drums) and throw DIY rap shows (he’d befriend the rappers and, before long, was producing their tracks). All of these musical adventures quietly saturate “Live at the Heartbreak Hotel,” an album of fluid, polyglot pop spiked with splashes of “Tropicalia, bossa [nova], blues, punk and no-wave,” the 25-year-old says. 8 p.m. $10-$12.
The Maine Dinner showcase at Rustico Ballston: The Ballston branch of Rustico has been a staple for DMV beer lovers throughout the years. Greg Engert, the beer director for parent company Neighborhood Restaurant Group, has taught beer appreciation classes there, and in July 2018, a beer garden opened up in the courtyard next to Rustico for the summer months. On Friday, the eatery will host Maine Beer Company and tap eight different offerings, including Dinner, a double IPA that is one of Maine’s most sought-after beers. 5 p.m. Free admission; food and drink prices vary.
— Hau Chu, Thomas Floyd, Fritz Hahn, Chris Kelly, Chris Richards and Stephanie Williams