THURSDAY, DECEMBER 17
MUSIC: The Smithsonian American Art Museum’s monthly “Take 5! Jazz Series” celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Association for the Advancement of Creative Musicians. The group was organized in Chicago by black musicians and composers who banded together with the same desire to find an outlet for their music. Since its inception, the AACM has become an internationally renown non-profit responsible for many great contributions to modern music. Tonight, AACM cellist Tomeka Reid and drummer Mike Reed join DC/Baltimore-area musicians Jamal Moore (reeds/percussion) and Luke Stewart (bass/percussion) in a performance that honors AACM and also sheds light on the ways that improvisational music communities have been connected throughout history. Free, 5 PM.
MOVIE AND PANEL: E Street Cinema is hosting a special screening and discussion of An Act of Love. The compelling documentary explores the ways members of the United Methodist Church are fighting back against the church’s exclusion of LGBT members, highlighting the story of Reverend Frank Schaefer, whose ministerial credentials were revoked after officiating his son’s same-sex wedding. Afterwards, Rev. Schaefer, the film’s director Scott Sheppard, executive director Matt Berryman, and Rev. Ginger Gaines-Cirelli will be on a panel moderated by Mike McCurry: a Methodist and former White House press secretary to President Bill Clinton. $7.32, 7 PM.
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 18
FESTIVAL: Nothing like fireworks soaring over the over the Potomac River (choreographed to Christmas music, of course) and a little bit of local history to get you ready for the holiday season. Christmas Illuminations gives attendees the chance to see the Mount Vernon estate decked out in holiday decorations while local choirs sing classic carols. But if learning more about the area’s backstory is your thing, they’ve got you covered, too. You’ll be able to chat about the Civil War with re-enactors from the First Virginia Regiment, learn 18th-century dance moves, and take in a demonstration on the 18th-century process of creating chocolate. Food, hot chocolate and cider will be available to purchase as well. $30, 5:30.
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 19
BIKE: Celebrate the season and the unseasonably warm weather at One Love Massive’s Massive Chrome Riide & Holiday Jammy Jam. The ride starts at the new Chrome store on U street, and makes its way through the city down to the National Christmas Tree. After all that exercise, washing down a beer at the after-party, hosted at Colony Club, will be the perfect way to unwind. Free, 1 PM.
MUSIC/DANCE: Even without the promised Festivus pole and photobooth Santa, All Things Go’s Rad Santa at Union Market is a holiday party you don’t want to miss. Wes Miles from the indie band Ra Ra Riot and Great Good Fine Ok will be spinning DJ sets to keep you grooving all night, and the “premium open bar from 8PM-9PM” doesn’t hurt either. $20-$25, 8 PM
DANCE: Silent Dance Society is making it a literal Silent Night, taking over the Hard Rock Cafe for its holiday Disco Party. Three live DJs will be playing three different varieties of music to get down to, from French Electro to EDM, which dancers will be able to switch between on headphones that light up depending on the channel you choose. Video art and hula hoop performances will help keep you entertained and dance all night. $15, 9 PM.
SUNDAY, DECEMBER 20
COMEDY If you’ve ever laughed to the point of tears from Amy Poehler’s antics, or from something Rob Corddry, Ed Helms or Horatio Sanz just said, you’ve got their alma mater Upright Citizens Brigade to thank. Tonight, when the theatre brings performers Morgan Miller, Stefan Schuette, Keaton Patti and Yoni Lotan to Sixth & I’s stage, be on the lookout for the next breakout star. $20-$25, 7 PM.
SHOP: If you’re still stumped as to what to get your vinyl-loving, DIY friend for the holidays, Black Cat’s Rock’n’Shop is the answer to your prayers. Local record stores, crafters, and artisans will be selling their wares at the venue’s mainstage as DJ Daisy Lacy keeps the atmosphere lively. Free, 7:30.
MUSIC Innov Gnawa comes to the Kennedy Center’s Millennium Stage to display their culture-melding show, which combines the Moroccan musical tradition known as gnawa with African Islamic religious songs, poetry, and dancing. The group, founded by Moroccan ex-pat Samir LanGus, blends the traditional gnawa sound with contemporary ideas LanGus has discovered while living in New York City. Free, 6 PM.