The best things to do in the D.C. area the week of Jan. 12-18



‘Harry Potter and the Sacred Text’ at Sixth and I: Sure, you’ve read all seven Harry Potter books. But have you analyzed them line by line searching for deep spiritual meaning? The podcasters behind the popular show “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” decided to apply the practices they’d learned in their sacred reading studies at Harvard Divinity School to the Wizarding World, drawing out themes related to topics including humility, service and compassion. During a live event at Sixth & I Synagogue, they’ll work their magic on a single Harry Potter chapter. A virtual viewing option is also available. 7 p.m. $35 in person, $12 to watch online.


Tango lessons at the Embassy of Uruguay: This series of four weekly tango classes fulfills two New Year’s resolutions in one: Not only are you learning new dance steps, but you’re expanding your cultural knowledge, as lessons are held at the Embassy of Uruguay, and organizers promise that students will “learn about the history of tango to better understand the dance.” Neither a partner nor experience with tango is required to take the class with instructor Luis Angel. Through Feb. 2. 6 to 7 p.m. $75 for all four classes.

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‘Avenues of Dreams: Reclaiming MLK Boulevards’ at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library: Comedian Chris Rock once noted that, no matter what American city you’re in, “If you’re on Martin Luther King Boulevard, there’s some violence going down. It ain’t the safest place to be.” A new generation of community organizers and business owners are trying to break down that stereotype. Join director Amber Payne for a screening of the documentary “Avenues of Dreams: Reclaiming MLK Boulevards,” followed by a discussion about streets named for King in D.C. and around the country. 7 p.m. Free.

Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club at GALA Hispanic Theatre: After a pandemic-related calendar reshuffling this summer, Elvis’ Birthday Fight Club is back where it belongs in the calendar: right around the corner from the King’s birthday. This long-running slapstick comedy production in D.C. dreams up heavily choreographed, WWE-style knockdown bouts between unlikely pop culture figures — as in, Godzilla vs. a bridezilla, or Princess Leia battling Xena, Warrior Princess. This year’s fight roster is under wraps, and, as always, hosts “Elvis” and “Kitty Glitter” narrate the shenanigans, as well as interactive games between rounds. Friday at 7 and 10 p.m. and Saturday at 10 p.m. (Saturday’s earlier show is sold out.) $30.


Junior Marvin and the Legendary Wailers at the Hamilton: Since Bob Marley’s 1981 death, few have done more to keep his music alive than Junior Marvin. Marvin wasn’t an original Wailer — he didn’t join until more than a decade after the group’s founding — and didn’t even grow up in Jamaica. (He’s also not “Police and Thieves” singer Junior Murvin, who died in 2013.) But the Kingston-born Londoner did become a Wailer in 1977, turning down a slot with Stevie Wonder’s band to play lead guitar on Marley and company’s “Exodus” and subsequent albums. With the Legendary Wailers, he’s lead vocalist as well, authoritatively singing “Stir It Up,” “I Shot the Sheriff,” “No Woman, No Cry” and the rest of Marley’s best-known songs. 8 p.m. $20-$30.

Donna vs. Diana at DC9: Dance parties pitting the songs of one musician “against” another’s have been back in vogue: Witness the recent Beyoncé vs. Prince night at the Black Cat, or the Taylor Swift vs. Olivia Rodrigo party at Songbyrd. But the latest entry is the biggest throwback yet: Donna vs. Diana at DC9, which finds DJ Phoenix dropping disco bombs all night long in tribute to Donna Summer and Diana Ross. 11 p.m. to 3 a.m. Free-$5.

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MLK events: The National Park Service is supplementing its regularly scheduled tours of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial — held Saturday and Sunday at 2 p.m. — with two extra ranger-led events this weekend. “Park After Dark: Happy Birthday Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.,” which begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, looks at symbolism at the Tidal Basin memorial, while “Struggle for Rights and Respect,” Sunday at 4 p.m., looks at how King and other leaders changed popular opinions on civil rights. No reservations are needed for any events.

MLK Dare to Dream Poetry Slam at Busboys and Poets Anacostia: Busboys channels creative energy toward honoring the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr. during this open poetry slam. Create an original work of no longer than three minutes and 30 seconds — suggested themes include “the civil rights movement” and “Black future” — for a chance to win a $100 prize, or just show up to listen and appreciate. Rules for poets are posted on the Busboys website. 7 p.m. $5 in advance, $8 at the door.


Eric Brace and the Last Train Home at the Birchmere: Americana singer-songwriter Eric Brace started with D.C. power-pop band B-Time and for a time wrote a nightlife column for The Post’s Weekend section. But his music began to trend toward Nashville, and two decades ago, he actually moved there. He and Last Train Home have developed a sound that’s sort of old-timey, but with lots of eclectic touches. The band’s 2022 album, “Everything Will Be,” features a jaunty, half-country instrumental and a mock cowboy lament, but also ventures into chamber pop and several varieties of jazz. The title song is driven by co-producer Jared Bartlett’s blues-rock electric guitar, only to have its swagger briefly interrupted by a mournful trumpet solo. Brace and his band probably can’t muster all the album’s instrumentation onstage, but they should be able to conjure all its moods, which range from wistful to exuberant. 7:30 p.m. $29.50.

Vanessa Collier at Miracle Theatre: In blues lore, great players come out of Nowheresville with skills so unexpected that it’s sometimes said they must have made a deal with the devil. Vanessa Collier’s background is less mythic: She grew up in Columbia, Md., and earned dual degrees at Boston’s Berklee College of Music. But there’s nothing academic about the singer and saxophonist’s rendition of blues, soul and funk. The young musician performs with as much grit and swagger as the musicians who inspired her — and whose songs she covers with joy and well-justified confidence. Her latest album, 2020’s “Heart on the Line,” includes a bold cover of James Brown’s “Super Bad” as well as solid originals. Collier’s voice has been compared to those of Bonnie Raitt and Maria Muldaur, but that’s just half of her appeal. Collier underscores her delivery with sax licks that are every bit as fluid and soulful as her singing. 8 p.m. $25-$40.

Shipgarten’s Winter Family Festival: In celebration of what has been dubbed National Dress Up Your Dog Day, the McLean beer garden hosts a family-friendly event where adults can sample drinks from over 40 breweries while kids can enjoy moon bounces, crafts, and games hosted by “Spider-Man” and a certain seasonally appropriate Disney blockbuster’s “Anna and Elsa.” Live music provides a soundtrack to dog competitions, such as best trick and best dressed, and other pet-themed activities such as a dog spa agility course stay open for the course of the event. 1 to 6 p.m. Free.

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Bent: Leatherette at 9:30 Club: This weekend is the Mid-Atlantic Leather Festival, and while most events, including the annual Mr. Mid-Atlantic Leather Contest, take place at the Hyatt Regency Capitol Hill for pass holders, there are other events around town. A special edition of 9:30 Club’s Bent dance party features DJs Lemz, Room 12 and ThaBlackGod, with performances by Jane Saw, Blaq Dinamyte and other drag artists. 10 p.m. $25.

Black Techno Matters: Liber8 DC at a secret location: Bernard Farley, a multidisciplinary artist who has made music and DJed under the names Outputmessage and B_X_R_N_X_R_D, founded Black Techno Matters when his Google searches for Black techno artists yielded little beyond information about the artists who birthed the sound in the 1980s. Black Techno Matters seeks to reclaim techno as a manifestation of Black expression, in both URL and IRL spaces. For much of the early pandemic period, the organization had to forgo in-person parties, using its Instagram page and Spotify playlists to highlight Black techno artists around the world. As live events returned, the crew threw Techno in the Park events in Meridian Hill Park and planned a massive Juneteenth celebration in 2022. Twin events in D.C. and San Francisco around Martin Luther King Jr. Day seek to continue King’s work in new ways: by marching toward a future marked by decolonized communities and dance floors. “I use this idea of ‘Black fire,’ and that’s really how I see it,” Farley says of growing the Black Techno Matters movement. “I just want it to feel out of control.” 10 p.m. $30. Location announced after ticket purchase.

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Pretty Boi Drag at Union Stage: Since 2016, Pretty Boi Drag has performed on stages throughout the D.C. area, centering drag kings of color for packed houses. More than 40 shows and 100 performers later, the troupe marks its seventh anniversary by taking over Union Stage for an all-ages event, with DJ Tezrah providing the soundtrack. 4 p.m. $25-$40.

MLK Weekend Old School Hip-Hop Bar Crawl: The holiday weekend brings a special edition of U Street’s long-running hip-hop-focused bar crawl. Between 2 and 10 p.m., seven bars feature seven themed DJ sets: Catch Farrah Flosscett dropping crunk hits from 4 to 7 at Cloak and Dagger, for example, or DJ Lalee spinning “Oh, This Is Ladies Night” favorites at Alice between 6 and 10. Each location has its own drink specials, so keep exploring. 2 to 10 p.m. $20.

Daylight DC: The Capricorn Edition at Takoma Station Tavern: If it’s a long weekend, the long-running Daylight party provides a place to party with a blend of ’80s and ’90s hip-hop, R&B dance hits and soulful house, thanks to birthday boy DJ Divine. 7 p.m. $10.

Music Bingo at Lost Boy Cider: The Alexandria-based cidery tests music knowledge for potential prizes — like free cider. Space is limited, so registration is encouraged. 2 to 4 p.m. Free.

“The Tale of Sea Shanties” at the Hill Center: This Profs and Pints presentation by a scholar of sea shanties dives into tunes like “Barnacle Bill” to explain what those melodies say about culture during the Great Age of Sail. Also analyzed: the sea shanty revival during the pandemic. 3 to 5:30 p.m. $14.31-$17.

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MLK events: Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday falls on Sunday, but Monday’s holiday brings numerous events commemorating the civil rights leader. The Kennedy Center’s “Let Freedom Ring” program brings Broadway star Leslie Odom Jr. to the Concert Hall, alongside the Let Freedom Ring chorus. Free tickets for the 6 p.m. performance will be given away in the Hall of Nations, beginning at 4:30, with a limit of two per person. The Folger Theatre’s annual “Not Just Another Day Off” at D.C.’s Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library at 11 a.m. Monday features local poets and actors reading historic speeches by King, James Baldwin and other civil rights leaders, alongside original poetry. Admission is free, though registration is preferred.

Silver Spring’s AFI Silver Theatre celebrates with a screening of the 2013 documentary “The March,” about the 1963 March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom, on Monday at noon. Seating is first come, first served; free tickets are available at the box office starting at 11:15 a.m. D.C. honors King with the MLK Holiday Parade down Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue SE, as well as a Peace Walk and wellness fair. The parade leaves the R.I.S.E. Center at St. Elizabeths Hospital at 11 a.m. and finishes in Anacostia Park.

Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service: The birthday of the renowned activist is, for many, best honored by community-oriented acts of service, like the several cleanup projects scheduled by Rock Creek Conservancy (times vary.); other restorations are hosted at Marvin Gaye Park (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), Mount Vernon Trail (10 a.m. to noon) and the Anacostia River (9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.; registration required). There’s also a blood drive at the Silver Spring Civic Building to benefit Children’s National Hospital (9 a.m. to 2 p.m.) and a full day of events like toiletry bagging, clothing collection and food preparation at Washington Hebrew Congregation (10 a.m. to noon).

Metropolitan Washington Winter Restaurant Week: The Restaurant Association Metropolitan Washington’s semiannual event offers a chance to save money while dining out during the January doldrums. More than 225 restaurants are signed up to participate, with specials including multicourse brunch and lunch menus for $25 per person and multicourse dinner menus for $40 or $55 per person. To-go dinners are available as well. Among the options in D.C., Maryland and Northern Virginia: Try a newbie on the scene (like Ellington Park Bistro in Dupont, helmed by D.C. stalwart chef Frank Morales), save on a buzzy lunch spot (downtown’s fashionable L’Ardente) or revisit a neighborhood classic (the rebooted Birch & Barley on 14th Street). Through Jan. 22. $25-$55.

“1989” Night at the Pug: In a year when Taylor Swift has taken over D.C.’s nightlife scene — sold-out dance parties at 9:30 Club, a weekly #SwiftieSundays cocktail night at the Roost’s Show of Hands, a seasonal holiday bar at Maxwell Park — perhaps the most unusual new hangout for Swifties is the Pug, H Street’s divey beer-and-a-shot destination. Back in October, owner Tony Tomelden delighted fans by hosting a listening party for “Midnights,” spinning the vinyl on a turntable behind the bar. He repeated the fun in November, featuring “Red (Taylor’s Version).” This week, he’s dropping the needle on “1989” while fans sing along, chat and sing along some more. Expect the music to start around “8 or 8:30.” Free.


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