Nightlife & Entertainment

Writers’ picks

Shooting pool at Blue Cue? Make sure your aim is true.

Shooting pool at Blue Cue? Make sure your aim is true.

Photo By Wes Davis

Best place to dream about bikes while listening to music

Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen

The Sacramento Bicycle Kitchen doesn’t host many gigs—it’s the place you go to fix your ride (or learn the technical particulars of such), not a live music venue, after all. But when it does feature shows, it does it right. Each Second Saturday, the shop shifts from business to party mode with a fundraiser featuring bands, arts and brew. The monthly event exudes a backyard party vibe that’s relaxed yet pro. Watch the bands and gaze wistfully at the shop’s myriad bikes and cycle parts and paraphernalia, or head outside to drink a few beers and mill about the nearby railroad tracks, chatting with friends. 1915 I Street, (916) 538-2725, R.L.

Best place to dance out the drunk

TownHouse Lounge

Sometimes, you’ve had one too many, especially if the bartender is in a particularly good mood and pouring stiff drinks. One good way to sober up is to sweat the booze out on the dance floor. TownHouse is perfect for a night of hard drinking and hard dancing. Almost every night of the week, you’ll find the dance floor bumping with a wide variety of bass-heavy music to suit your rhythmic needs. You can get drunk and then dance the drunk out of you, all in one place. 1517 21st Street, (916) 837-3374, L.H.

Best place for a deejay battle

Dive Bar

Sure, Dive Bar is best known as “the bar with the mermaid.” But hiding among some dark couches in the lounge area past the bar is another good reason to visit: a cool-looking jukebox that works with your own music player. According to the venue’s website, the 6-foot-tall iPod-shaped juke can connect up to two iPods simultaneously, so you can personally deejay the venue or engage your friends in battles. Be careful, though: Rumor has it that if you play a bad song, management will bang a gong and your deejay shift will be met a swift, slightly embarrassing end. 1016 K Street, (916) 737-5999, J.M.

Best show from the 19th century

The Eagle Theatre’s Golden Melodeon Revue

As you walk down a cobbled street in summer, a woman curiously dressed in a bonnet and floor-length calico prairie dress catches your eye. Before you’re able to process it, a man in a wool vest and disheveled hair interrupts, hollering about some free show at the Eagle Theatre—the Golden Melodeon Revue—and you should go. You step into the theater, pull aside the heavy red-velvet curtain, and see the lights shining on young man juggling—atop another man’s shoulders. Before you know it, both men are flying into somersaults, and the next act takes the stage—cancan girls—you’ve just time-traveled into the gold-rush days. The historic little theater houses this charming old-timey variety show along with melodramas for free every weekend in July and August. 921 Front Street in Old Sacramento, S.

Best spot for post-clubber doggin'

Good Dogs Catering

Your curls are limp, your feet ache from those sky-high stilettos and your tummy is demanding an end to the liquid diet it’s been subjected to those last few hours while you danced the night away. Who do you call? Or rather, walk to? Good Dogs! These guys set up their station right on the corner of 10th and K streets, serving up fully loaded hot dogs and nachos. Take it from us: Nothing tastes as good as a hot dog with the works after a long night. It’s cheap, it’s fast, and if you find a spot along the giant planters to sit on, you’ll also be treated to a free show of stumbling partiers, bickering couples and creepy cabbies. Corner of 10th and K streets. S.V.

Best live theater for thinkers

Capital Stage

Where to start with a season like this? Capital Stage recently opened with Lucy Prebble’s Enron, a headlong rush into financial calamity that has great relevance for Californians, especially the grannies who got screwed. Next up, Mistakes Were Made by Craig Wright, also tackles business—but this time, it’s the theater business, as a producer struggles to put together the deal of a lifetime. Then a political thriller is shot through with hilarity as The North Plan by Jason Wells introduces the most profane and funny defender of civil liberties you’ve ever met. This is not to mention Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop, the classic Henrik Ibsen play Hedda Gabler, and finally Kristoffer Diaz’s The Elaborate Entrance of Chad Deity. This is theater for the thinking class, and season ticket packages start at $90. 2215 J Street, (916) 995-5464, K.M.

Best place to party with your neighbors

The Trap

When you walk into a bar and every head turns to see who just entered, it can be intimidating. A strong sense of not belonging starts to creep in. Not the case at The Trap. True, when you walk into this ramshackle building, you’ll get looks, but they’ll quickly be followed with welcoming smiles at every corner. If the bartender has stepped out for a moment, one of the guys bellied up to the bar will grab your brew of choice and pop the top before you have a chance to thank him. This bar only serves beer and wine, with a heaping side of hospitality. With strangers like these, who needs familiar faces? 6125 Riverside Boulevard, (916) 395-2614. L.H.

Best place for an impromptu doggy pageant

Handle District

Sure, you could hit up the heart of Midtown and enjoy some good eats and hang out with your friends at any of the many restaurants along this two-block stretch. But how eventful is that? It’s almost a given that everyone will be on their smartphones, ignoring present company anyway. For a good time all around, take your orders outside to the sidewalk seating and set up your very own canine pageant (napkins are great scoreboards)! Many proud owners parade their eager four-leggers to and fro, giving you and your friends the perfect opportunity to put down the CrackBerries and bond while determining which pooch is cutest, friendliest and most likely to nip at your fingers should you decide to go over for a petting. Between 17th and 19th streets and L Street and Capitol Avenue, S.V.

Best free concert series

East Sac Pops in the Park

Despite a lot of competition—including the venerable Friday-night summer series in Cesar Chavez Plaza downtown—the tip o’ the best hat goes to East Sacramento’s Pops in the Park, a series sponsored by Sacramento City Councilman Steve Cohn. This year’s series offered four shows with four different styles: rock, country, pop and world. It’s extremely family-friendly, the shows are free, and a portion of proceeds from food and beverage sales go to support neighborhood recreation amenities. Watch for next summer’s series and enjoy good music outside with no stress and a lawn chair. Pops in the Park, various East Sacramento city parks in June; K.M.

Best diversity rap

Rice Boy Liu

It’s hard enough to rap in one language. Recent Mira Loma High School grad and current USC freshman Michael Liu comes hard in nearly a dozen in his “Rap Song in 11 Different Accents” video. He drives through stereotypes in each one of his adopted personas and, in less than five minutes, spits eight or more bars in Mexican, Chinese and Russian accents while rocking costumes and holding signs such as “Say no to stereotypes.” The video went viral and has more than 1 million views and counting on YouTube. Liu is currently studying film and television production, so expect more good things to come, including a follow-up “accents” video. . J.M.