Kids can try out a variety of pretend careers during a pre-Labor Day family night at the Children's Museum. Hands-on exhibits give them a taste of what it might be like to be a scientist, cashier, artist, architect, television director or engineer. At 6:30 p.m., the Houston Blues Society traces the history of popular African-American music through a performance of jazz, gospel and blues by local performers Samantha Banks, Tanya Richards, Gloria Edwards and Naomi Carter. Thursday, September 3, 5-8 p.m. 1500 Binz. Info: 522-1138. Free.
The indefatigable troupe at Radio Music Theatre opens its latest installment of the adventures of the Fertle family of Dumpster, Texas. The Last Night at Orabella's is about the closing of the only honky-tonk in town and all the locals who show up for one final scoot around the dance floor. One wonders if the enduring popularity of RMT, like Esther's Follies in Austin, has as much to do with the free-flow of beer as with the brilliance of the script ... but who cares, as long as everybody's having fun? What's not to like? 8:30 p.m., 2623 Colquitt. Info: 522-7722. $14.
Although it has come to epitomize a certain glittering elegance, the tango originated in society's underbelly -- the brothels of turn-of-the-century Argentina. In fact, the tango developed as a sort of acting out of the relationship between prostitute and pimp. It took Paris by storm in the '20s, and became a symbol of political freedom in Argentina, embraced wholeheartedly by Juan and Evita Peron in the '40s. Dance the dance of pent-up passion at the Institute of Hispanic Culture with lifetime tangueros Juan Carlos and Alicia Suarez from the sexy dancing capital of the world, Buenos Aires. Every Friday, 7 to 8 p.m. beginners, 8 to 8:30 p.m. for advanced dancers. From 8:30 to 11 p.m., practice tangos, cumbias and salsas. 3315 Sul Ross. Info: 783-8808. $7.50 for the lessons, $5 for dancing from 9 p.m. only.
We had to laugh when comedian Bobby Slayton described Nancy Reagan, with her tiny body, disproportionately large head and wide-set eyes as "a human Pez dispenser." Slayton, dubbed "the pit bull of comedy," brings his rough (yet unexpectedly p.c. in places) humor to Houston this weekend. Slayton is playing the part of Joey Bishop in the HBO movie The Rat Pack, with Ray Liotta as Frank Sinatra. See him in person so you can say you knew him way back when. September 46, 8 and 10:30 p.m. at Laff Stop, 1952-A West Gray. 524-2333. $12.50.
If the weather holds, what could be nicer than eating fried shrimp and listening to jazz as the waves of Galveston Bay lap the shores of Kemah? The Bay Area Jazz Fest begins at 5:30 p.m. Saturday on the Grand Patio between the Flying Dutchman and Aquarium restaurants on the waterfront. Malcolm Pinson and the Jazz Warriors perform at 7:50 p.m., high-energy vocalist Norma Zenteno and her Latin Jazz Band at 9 p.m. and Stephen Fulton, former music director for legendary jazz trumpeter Clark Terry, and his quintet at 10:15 p.m. If the event, co-sponsored by University of Houston-Downtown, is a hit, UH jazz director Robert Wilson hopes to make it a two-day affair next year. Take I-45 to NASA Road 1. Take NASA Road 1 until it dead-ends at Highway 146 in Seabrook. Go south on 146, over the Kemah bridge, take a left and look for the signs. For more info, call Wilson at 221-8574. Free.
The Company Onstage Theatre starts its children's season with the tale of Pearl the Mermaid, who dreams of a handsome, non-amphibious prince in The Little Mermaid. The adaptation of the Hans Christian Andersen fairy tale plays at 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Saturdays through October 17. 536 Westbury Square. Reservations: 726-1219. $5.
It's a far cry from sitting in the cheap seats at a 'Stros game at the 'Dome. Polo, the official game of pricey mail-order fashion catalogs, comes to Houston this month. Dig out your straw boater, put on your pearls and infiltrate the ranks of upper-crust society at the Deloitte & Touche Texas Open polo match. Sweaty guys with panting ponies between their thighs will mightily swing their bamboo mallets. At half-time, fans can mash dirt divots back into the playing field, like in Pretty Woman. But don't stamp on the steaming divots! Matches will be Fridays and Sundays in September at the Houston Polo Club, 8552 Memorial. Opening day reception at 4:30 p.m. Friday sponsored by Polo Magazine, with refreshments from The Palm. Match begins at 5:30 p.m. Info: 622-7300. Tickets: $25.
We have never understood the appeal of wearing a puffy shirt with tights and saying things like "milord" or "milady" while gnawing on a turkey leg, but we understand there are many people who do. Therefore, we shall recommend the Third Annual Celtic Arts Festival, with a bagpipe-band competition, lively music and dance, medieval village, Scottish clan and genealogy booths and games. Heave a bale of hay with a pitchfork in the "Sheaf Toss." Throw a heavy rock as far as you can in the "Braemar Stone Toss." Don't miss the "World Champion Juvenile Pipe Band." Doors open at noon both Sunday and Monday at Garden in the Heights, 3926 Feagan. Info: 880-1065. Admission: $7, or $12 for both days.
Miss Ima Hogg, the philanthropist with the funny name, loved the Creole architecture of New Orleans, which led her brothers to hire preeminent residential architect John Staub to design what became known as Bayou Bend. With its pale pink stucco, green louvered blinds and copper roof, the house and gardens are part country house, part Southern plantation. The 1928 estate has contained the decorative arts collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, since 1966. Learn about what Staub dubbed "Latin Colonial" architecture with an hourlong tour led by docent Ed Langwith, a retired partner of the architecture firm Langwith, Wilson and King. The event kicks off the fall series of noontime tours at the 14-acre site. One Westcott Street, off Memorial. Reservations recommended: 639-7758. $5-$10.
Over the next few days, downtown will explode into an extravaganza of lights, fireworks, eight stages of music and dance, food from 55 restaurants, with what used to be called the Great Taste of Houston and is now Houston Industries Power of Houston '98. The "mayor's official fall celebration," as it's being touted, starts off tonight with a peasantish pastime: grape stomping. At the 104 KRBE Grape Stomp, 20 teams of four members each will bare their soles, jump in grape-filled tubs and race to be first to fill a glass with grape juice and serve it to the judges. Eeeewww. To participate in the stomp, fax a compelling reason why your team should be allowed to compete to the station at 954-2344 before September 7. The Great Wine Fest takes place in front of City Hall, 901 Bagby. Grape Stomp info: 266-1000. Power o' Houston info: 684-0900. Admission: $5, $2 for children under ten; children under three free. Benefits the mayor's parks fund and the Houston International Festival Educational Program, among other things.