The weekend starts early, as we’re desperately trying to take advantage of the pleasant weather and gallivant around the city by foot. Start your Thursday night off at Sway for the relatively new Reality Bites throwdown — yes, a reference to the ’90s film classic. (Note: We’re basically willing to try anything that even remotely references a young Ethan Hawke.) As expected, be prepared for hits from the same decade at the hands of two DJs — Rok One and Michna — who were likely on the cusp of discovering their own teenage angst when jams like “Losing My Religion” were still blaring through car tape decks. Tapes! Your soundtrack of “grunge, dance, and rock and roll” comes with a $2 cover fee, though it’s free if you wear Doc Martens, flannels, or babydolls, and since you probably have one of those things in your closet anyways, why not?
If you’re looking for tropical tunes to help you fake warmer weather, try Happy Endings’ basement for tonight’s edition of Brand New Machine. The weekly fete includes residents Max Glazer, DJ Autograph, and Whyteboy Chris bringing you a mix of reggae, dancehall, soca, and other island sounds. Tonight, however, also features guests Rampage Sound, who will be celebrating the release of the fourth installment if their Dancehall Most Wanted mix series. The Deadly Dragon crew and their carefully selected crates of rare 45s take on the upstairs part of the lounge, making for an overall evening of sweaty dancing and good vibes. Free on both floors all night.
If you’re looking for dance music, we’ll direct you to another basement, this time at subMercer. This month’s edition of WORK, helmed by cruise directors Eli Escobar and Lloydski, features special guest House of House’s Saheer Umar. So yeah, expect house, along with all sorts of other stuff: disco, boogie, funk, New Wave, and like, Grace Jones. The crowd is way less snotty than you’d imagine, and there’s enough nooks to hide in if anyone rubs you the wrong way . . . including that one room with the stripper pole. No cover here, either.
On Friday, we’re shuttling you to Williamsburg once again. Remember the Knitting Factory? Tonight, Parisian-based hip-hop and soul expert DJ Onra takes on the decks alongside a stream of other noteworthy vinyl collectors. DJ Spinna is among them, as is notorious crate-digger DJ Amir, producer Ge-ology, Brand Nubian’s Sadat X, and one of Onra’s own collaborators, French jazz artist Buddy Satvia. We’ll expect a lot of backpackers at this thing, so be prepared. Tickets are $15 in advance, $17 at the door.
For rap of a different sort, head to the traveling circus that is the Raid. We’re biased, of course (I throw this dance party), but we’re also just happy to have found a new home after Savalas’ rap ban a while back. Tonight, resident DJ Cousin Cole and Win Win / Spank Rock DJ Chris Devlin move the party to Public Assembly’s recently opened Loft space. The room is small and free from music-bans of any sort, which guarantees a mix of rock, disco, Baltimore club, funk, Moombahton, and, yes, rap. You can expect a few of the DJs’ own tracks, too, like Cole’s epic, dance-cry remix of Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep” or Win Win’s own “Release RPM.” No cover, lots of dancing. Come and give me a high five.
A little up the way, try another favorite Friday monthly: Nextah is bringing Toronto’s Bonjay Soundsystem to the Cove alongside residents Michna and Nick Hook. The dancehall duo from Ottawa started out working with songs that weren’t obviously associated with their dancehall stylings, but that’s what makes them so interesting. While they do have dancehall and r&b mastered (partially thanks to vocals from the very rad Alanna Stuart), DJ and beat-maker Pho is just as interested in U.K. dance music, which means you’ll hear some harder bass, pop influences, and U.K. Funky in their live set. Try this recent mix of his to see just what we’re talking about. No cover.
If you’re looking to thrash around amid a couple hundred sweaty cohorts, try the first day of Downtown Records’ Five-Year Anniversary weekend soiree. Day One kicks off at Webster Hall with A-Trak looming over a bill of mosh-pit-worthy dance bands. Art Brut is what we’re most excited for tonight, if only to flail along to “Good Weekend” and share a cathartic scream-along to “My little brother just discovered rock and roll!” Hyper rock group White Denim, the dance-y New Wave siren Lissy Trullie, and catchy all-girl outfit the Suzan will also perform. Tickets are $25.
The festivities continue on Saturday, with Day Two of the anniversary gala moving uptown to Terminal 5. Rightfully so, as the lineup tonight consists of Miike Snow, DJ/dance sensation Major Lazer, the darling Santigold, and Ed Banger’s DJ Mehdi and So Me. Who knows how there’s even time for all of those guys. Expect glowsticks, teenagers, and the opportunity to dance (or trip?) your face off. Tickets are sold out online, but there are plenty of fairly priced options on Craigslist for the willing. And if you can’t make it in there, there’s always the afterparty! The Rub’s DJ Ayres and Negroclash/FAM’s DJ Lindsey hold RCRDLBL’s Downtown Records afterparty down late night, though there are also “special guests” to be announced. (Yes, it’s a pretty good chance that the guests are part of the lineup you may have missed at Terminal 5.) Download this playlist to find out the location.
Surprisingly, there’s a few other great dance options for those of you heading uptown as well. Blkmrkt Membership is throwing another one of their warehouse-consuming, daylight-pushing benders at Good Units, this time with special guest Dixon. Co-founder of Innervisions with Ame, the German DJ leans towards the minimal side of house, so expect a long, drawn-out daze from his extended set tonight. Blkmrkt’s Taimur and Fahad join him on the decks. Tickets are $20 in advance. For house with a little more soul, try Danny Tenaglia’s 50th birthday bash at Best Buy Theater in midtown. While we’re generally opposed to going to midtown for any reason whatsoever on a weekend night out, we’re positive that tonight’s fete will be a mix of deep house, disco classics, boogie, pop jams (he did work with Janet Jackson, after all), and dance anthems to a (hopefully) older crowd of followers and friends. To top it off, the DJ is supported by the goddess Crystal Waters of “Gypsy Woman” fame, on the mic for a live performance. Tickets are expensive at $50 a go, but doors open at 11 p.m. and stay open until noon the next day. Some 50th birthday party.
And if you’re staying in Brooklyn Saturday night, check out the newest warehouse creation from the guys at Brooklyn Zoo as they put on a Mardi Gras bash. Tonight’s lineup features two sassy rappers at the forefront — Baltimore club princess Rye Rye and Mad Decent’s Cumbian seductress Maluca. There are live performances by Brooklynites Rocky Business, Memberz Only, and Planet Cognac, and DJ sets from Gold Whistle’s club and electro fiend Cobra Krames, along with party starters WCKids, Anton Glamb, and too many more to name. Tickets are $20, and this thing is 18 and over. (Be cautious, my weekend warriors.) If you feel more comfortable around people your own age, try Giant Step’s Tropical Discoteque at Public Assembly. The party shares its name with headliner Sofrito‘s newest release on Strut Records. Expect rare grooves and plenty of dancing to the duo’s collection of Latin, African, and Caribbean records. Turntables On the Hudson’s Nickodemus joins the pair, as does a set of live drummers. $10 all night, and the best way to kick off the spring, as far as we’re concerned.