Nicki Minaj, Louie Vega, Talib Kweli, And Bollywood Disco Headline Your (Christmas!) Week In Nightlife


The holidays tend to bring a mass exodus from the city, but not everyone is leaving. In fact, some of our favorite DJs (and rappers) have chosen to come for a visit, giving us a full week of dance parties and awesome shows. We recommend that you take a night off from your holiday daze, grab a sibling/second cousin/random friend you haven’t seen since middle school, and shimmy off those candy canes and gingerbread cookies. You’ll be happy you did.

Let’s ease into the week tonight with Louie Vega. The house DJ is presenting the annual Christmas edition of his Latin-infused house, funk, and disco weekly Roots at Cielo. The cast of Vega Records will be in the building all night, though it’s Louie himself who’ll provide an extended six-hour set. Tickets are $20 at the door, but include a 9-10 open bar and free bag of Vega Records swag. If you’re looking for a healthy mix of rap with your dance endeavors, head up to Terminal 5, where Chromeo’s Dave 1 DJs an opening set of electro grooves, disco, and dance rock at the Big Boi show. We don’t get it either, but add pop-dance outfit L.A. Riots and the Knocks to the mix and just go with it. Here’s hoping that this doesn’t turn into a DJ night featuring a five-song show by Big Boi, as we’d prefer that he just do his whole album, start to finish. (I bet you can guess what’s on my Top 10 list.) For something a little more trill, try Brooklyn Bowl, where Talib Kweli hosts his own little holiday party featuring the great Bun B. It’s best to leave your opinions of Trill OG at home for this one and trust that the rapper will be the star of the show tonight. Homeboy Sandman kicks off the evening of raps and K-Salaam DJs between sets. Tickets are $10 at the door, $8 in advance.

If you’re not too sick of Brooklyn Bowl, head back on Thursday night for ?uestlove’s Bowl Train, wherein the DJ pulls out vinyl and classic records for a holiday version of his weekly fete — expect a whole lot of soul, funk, old-school hip-hop, disco, ’80s, and the like. The party isn’t just a pun either, as the dude has a collection of vintage Soul Train videos that play into the mix as well (as a backdrop for the live dance-offs).

On to Christmas weekend! Once you’ve gotten your fill of family, friends, and holiday ham (or Chinese food, in our case) on Saturday, head over to Le Poisson Rouge for Bollywood Disco. Sounds awesome already, right? The child of Basement Bhangra’s DJ Rekha, the night promises retro Bollywood film classics, affiliated disco jams, and other non-Christmas-y delights. To get an idea, we’re pretty positive you’ll hear “Jimmy” (but the one without MIA, you know?) or “Choli Ke Peche Kya Hai” (my favorite Bollywood sample in a Jay-Z song). I could go on, but I won’t — just know this will be awesome. Tickets are $12 in advance, $15 at the door. Back to rap! Way, way up in the Bronx, woman of the year Nicki Minaj will be hosting her very own Christmas party at Paradise Theater. This is becoming a trend (we saw her over Thanksgiving, too), but family dinner doesn’t really compare to seeing the starlet rap her verse on “Monster” live, right? Tickets are expensive, but who knows what member of her rap family will show up for a verse or two — Kanye, Rihanna, and Juelz Santana all made an appearance last time.

Sunday night, however, guarantees a rap posse throw-down, as Talib Kweli headlines his second holiday spectacle of the week alongside cohort Jean Grae. The conveniently named T’was the Night After Christmas features the talents of Strongarm Steady, Joell Ortiz, Mickey Factz, and many others at Highline Ballroom. Tickets are $22 in advance, and while they warn you to arrive early (doors at 7 p.m.), please know that no one you want to see will be on til around 1.

Monday brings a new bout of dance parties. For one, the Disco Biscuits kick off their three-night stint at Terminal 5 and seem intent on letting us know that “they’re not the same band they were in the ’90s.” Trance-fusion isn’t our area of expertise, but we did notice that they’ve taken on an interesting group of fellas to tour with: Monday night includes a performance by Raekwon (yes, that Raekwon), while Tuesday’s fete includes DFA dance outfit Holy Ghost. If this is part of the revamping process, then we’re down. Tickets are $41 online. For dance music of a much cheaper and soulful variety, we’ll recommend Giant Step’s holiday party at Good Units. There will be no nitrous balloons here, but plenty of euphoria regardless, thanks to the night’s guests, Dennis Ferrer (!!!) and the Martinez Brothers. Ferrer’s house banger “Hey Hey” is easily one of the best dance tracks of the year (even if it did come out in the tail-end of 2009), and, well, you already know how we feel about the Martinez Brothers. Did we mention that it’s free? RSVP required — go if you know what’s good for you.

Alternately, you could try to get into one of Lauryn Hill’s sold out shows. She’s at Highline Ballroom on Monday and Music Hall of Williamsburg on Tuesday. Good luck with that.