"We're trying to offer the alternative [to the wild parties], something more mellow for a little bit older people -- but people who aren't too old to be going out to the lounges," explains Jason Williams, the organizer of Grown Folks Fridays. That doesn't mean the club is full of grannies -- quite the opposite.
People with plenty of party left in them dance the night away to DJ Sir Thurl's set; the Beat (100.3 FM) DJ (pictured) alternates new tracks with old-school jams such as Naughty By Nature's "O.P.P." and classic N.W.A. and Too $hort club-thumpers. Sir Thurl's been DJing for more than ten years and has been on the radio for two, so he's amply qualified to get your rump shaking. You might hear MC Breed's legendary "Ain't No Future in Yo' Frontin'" or some other throwback classic -- each week Sir Thurl likes to explore a different era of music that the 25-and-uppers cut their teeth on. "It's funny because when I mix the songs together and go into a new song, you hear this big scream, like people are at a concert: 'Yeah, that's my jam!'," Sir Thurl laughs.
Arrive straight after work at 5 p.m. for the happy-hour appetizers and serious drinks (and before the $10 cover charge at 10 p.m.). You won't be playing any sports, so leave your athletic gear at home. And most of all: Get ready to get grown! -- Alison Sieloff
Kastle gives you hot bikinis
The Spanish Mission-style building that houses the Kastle nightclub once served as Central States Life Insurance's world headquarters. Now it serves as a testing ground to determine who looks hottest in a two-piece. Witness Thursday night's ongoing Bikini Nation contest (10 p.m. to 3 a.m., $5 cover), now in its fourth week. Girls (and, potentially, boys, although there haven't been any male entrants...yet) jiggle for $100 cash and plane tickets to sunny destinations such as Las Vegas or Cancun. All entrants get a free bikini, and the "best tanned body" wins a free year of tanning (must the rich get richer?). If, however, your South Beach diet hasn't kicked in and you feel uncomfortable in a bikini, come for the creative, reasonably priced drinks and to wander around the dark corners of a beautiful room where people once took out policies on their lives (3207 Washington Avenue, 314-534-1571 or www.kastledance.com). -- Ben Westhoff
The Swing's the Thing
And it don't cost a thing
When was the last time you heard some free jazz? If you're thinking of a particularly savage oil-drum improvisation by the Spatz McGillicuddy Industrial Debris Ensemble, stop. Think no-purchase-necessary jazz. That's what you'll find weekly through April in Washington University's Holmes Lounge (located on the west side of the quadrangle in Ridgely Hall, One Brookings Drive, off Forsyth and Skinker boulevards). On Thursday nights at 8 p.m., the Holmes Jazz Series brings local, national and global jazz talent to the lounge's cavernous luxury for two hours of world-class music in a relaxed, acoustically superior setting. Light fare and liquid refreshments are available (but are not free). This week the series features Boston's Dead Cat Bounce, an ensemble of four saxophones, an upright bass and drums whose dense, Mingus-like counterpoint earned it the title of Best Jazz Act in a Boston Phoenix readers' poll. For more information, call 314-862-0874. -- John Goddard
Gonna Maki You Sweat
Modern architecture is about efficiency and clean lines, the Frank Lloyd Wright ideal, but a scant two generations later we're confronted with box-shaped restaurants on mall parking lots. Isn't anybody trying anymore? Fumihiko Maki is! Maki's style of modernism is as it should be: a three-dimensional footprint of the divine in anodized aluminum. The world-renowned architect and former Washington University professor has designed structures in cities from Munich to Tokyo and is bringing his concrete/glass/steel rationality back to St. Louis. He's giving a lecture on "Image, Space and Materiality" at 6 p.m. in the Steinberg Auditorium (which he designed) at Forsyth and Skinker boulevards. The free lecture is at 6 p.m.; visit www.wustl.edu or call 314-935-6200 for details. -- Mark Dischinger
Just when you've finally become accustomed to writing "2004" on all of your checks, you find out that the new year hasn't even started; well, if you're Tibetan, it hasn't. The Tibetan New Year is upon us, and to ring it in right, you should wake up before dawn, bathe, put on your new clothes and try to keep a sunny disposition all day, so as to start the new year off with a positive mental attitude. You might also want to head over to the Blue Beryl Dharma Center (1220 Tamm Avenue, 314-761-9624, www.lamalobsang.com) around 4 p.m. for the free Losar celebration. The center will have the traditional fire puja and some remarks by Buddhist chaplain Mikel Monette. Even if you're not Tibetan, it wouldn't hurt you to think good thoughts for an afternoon. -- Paul Friswold