Things to Do

What to Do This Weekend: January 16 to 20

Political cartoons at Art Soiree, an MLK concert at the Kennedy Center, and lots more for your holiday weekend.

The Kennedy Center hosts a free concert celebrating Martin Luther King Jr. on Monday. Photograph by Flickr user Mack Male.

Thursday, January 16

VARIETY: This month’s Encyclopedia Show DC takes a look at all things zodiac. You’ll see poems about Gemini, songs about Virgo, hear from a real-life astrologer, and watch standup comics tell you about the role astrology plays in the digital age. Get to the Dunes early for happy hour. Tickets ($8) are available online. 7 PM.

BOOKS: Good thing the US emerged out of that whole Cold War thing without getting involved in a nuclear holocaust, right? Former Soviet lieutenant general Ion Mihai Pacepa wrote a book about all the ways the Cold War could have gone horribly wrong(-er than it did), which means Soviet leaders still have a price tag on his head. His coauthor, Ronald Rychlak, will be at the Spy Museum talking about the propaganda war launched against the United States and how the Soviets planned to destroy the West. Tickets ($10) are available online. 6:30 PM.

ART: Baltimore graphic-design duo Post Typography will be at the Fillmore to talk about how they take on a project and geek out over conceptual typography, custom lettering, vandalism in art, and keeping things punk. Afterward, things stay Charm City-focused with performances from Baltimore-based bands Peals, Pure Junk, and Roomrunner. Tickets ($14) are available online. 7 PM.

Friday, January 17

VARIETY: Black Cat takes things back to the turn of the century—the OLD century, not this one—with 1907 Vaudeville, a night of old-school burlesque, sideshow, and hula-hooping. Fun fact: Hula hoops were invented in 1958. The more you know! Tickets ($12) are available online. 8:45 and 11 PM.

MORE VARIETY: I’ll never understand why promoters of very similar events with similar fan bases don’t plan better and have them on different nights, but here we are. Artisphere presents the Skullduggery and Strange show, a night of carnival sideshow featuring performers from Coney Island, vaudeville musicians from Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, Kyle Petersen, who is “quite possibly America’s most famous unicycle juggler,” and burlesque dancer Mario Marquise, who has performed all over the US and UK. Tickets ($15) are available online. 9 PM.

COMEDY: The Velvet Lounge continues its every-once-in-a-while Comedy on the Table series, featuring six local, up-and-coming female comics. Proceeds from drinks will benefit the Young Women’s Project, which helps train teens to be leaders in their community. Drinks are five bucks all night. Free. 7 PM.

MUSIC: Trouble Funk pioneered the funky side of go-go back in the late 1970s and have kept it up ever since. They haven’t released a new CD in ages, but they’ve got a new song and a video to go with it, which they’ll premiere at a big show at the 9:30 Club. Tickets ($20) are available online. 8 PM.

CARTOONS: Art Soiree hosts its once-a-year political cartoon exhibit, with one night for Democrats and one night for Republicans. The GOP kicks things off—head to the Ritz-Carlton in Georgetown, where you can critique and buy work by KAL, the editorial cartoonist for the Economist and the Baltimore Sun, and generally hem and haw over clever political cartoons. Suspicious Package, a band made up of Pulitzer Prize-winning journalists and senior government officials, perform. Tickets ($10) are available online. (The Democrat night, also $10, happens Saturday.) 8 PM.

Saturday, January 18

DERBY: DC Rollergirls have another bout this weekend. Catch them as they do things on roller skates that you could never dream of (not fall down every two seconds, not hug the wall for support the whole time). Even if you don’t really know what’s going on, bouts are high-energy, exciting affairs. They’re also the only place you’ll get to see teams with names like the DemonCats, Majority Whips, Scare Force One, and Cherry Blossom Bombshells. Tickets ($20) are available online. 4 PM.

FILM: Del Ray Artisans screen the 1998 drama Primary Colors, featuring John Travolta and Emma Thompson and loosely based on Bill Clinton’s first presidential campaign. The film goes well with their current “Primary Colors” art exhibit, which is not based on any presidential campaign but is instead focused on making artists use red, blue, and yellow to create works—no cheating by using advanced techniques like mixing blue and yellow to make green. $3. 7 PM.

THEATER: The Lord of the Rings is a long, epic, complicated journey through a place that I think is called Middle Earth. It features battles with thousands of tree people and other magical beings. So naturally, some dude is going to try to perform the whole thing by himself. Catch Charles Ross’s One Man Lord of the Rings at the Birchmere. Tickets ($35) are available online. 7:30 PM.

DANCE: A pizza restaurant isn’t where you’d expect to see a very well-known rapper perform a deejay set, but that’s where we find ourselves this weekend. Talib Kweli will take over the boards at the H Street Red Rocks, and his openers, deejays Stereo Faith and Sharkey, who know how to start a party themselves, aren’t too shabby. Just try not to get pizza sauce on your dress or pants. Free. 9 PM.

Sunday, January 19

DANCE: It’s a holiday weekend, so bars stay open until ungodly hours. One of those bars is Public in Dupont Circle, which throws its standard rooftop Church party, only way bigger, because people will probably actually come this time. Expect house music and a not-sweaty time, because although the roof is heated, you’ll (thankfully) get some air. Free. 9 PM.

CLOTHES: Monroe Street Market hosts a Sip and Swap clothing exchange. It’s the standard swap deal—bring some old clothes, get some new ones—with the addition of wine and cocktails if you’re up for it. Admission is $5 plus five garments to trade. 2 PM.

Monday, January 20

MUSIC: The Kennedy Center celebrates the life of Martin Luther King Jr. with its Let Freedom Ring concert, featuring five-time Grammy winner Dionne Warwick and the Let Freedom Ring choir, on its Millennium Stage. Free. 6 PM.

BRUNCH: It’s a holiday, so brunch is allowed. The Terrapin Beer Company from Athens, Georgia (what the heck, Maryland), will be at City Tap House doling out special beer pairings to go with food such as chicken and waffles, frittatas, granola (yes, granola apparently goes with beer), lemon-ricotta pancakes, and more. 11 to 3.

Know of something cool going on around town? E-mail Jason Koebler at, or find him on Twitter.