A Spirited Defense

Courtesy of the Houston Dragon Boat Association

SAT 5/1

Miscreants and deviants, beware. Dragon boat season is upon us, and if myth and legend ring true, these ancient boat races are sure to ward off evil spirits, prevent famine, avert disease, increase stamina and bring peaceful slumber. The whole story started back in BC China, where a poet threw himself into a river to protest the emperor's excesses of power. The people then went out in colorful boats decorated with dragon heads in search of the sopping martyr. Somewhere along the way, dragon boats became a sign of all kinds of good mojo. Nowadays most people just stroke along for fun and exercise, but it looks like some of the Chinese urban legend might apply to the Houston Dragon Boat Festival. "We haven't had any evil spirits or bad events take place," says Caroline Long, co-founder of the annual event. This year is expected to be no different, with an entertainment lineup featuring everything from lion and dragon dancing to Shaolin kung fu performances to Korean farm dancing. Long hopes the festival will help preserve and revitalize Buffalo Bayou, as well as fend off "your everyday generalized evil spirits." Perhaps they'll flee to other pastures. Brace yourself, Beaumont. 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 1. Allen's Landing, 1019 Commerce. For information, call 713-752-0314 or visit www.houstondragonboat.com. Free. -- Allison Bech

Beer Eye for the Rugby Guy

Rugby entails collisions, torn ears and kneed ribs. Its water of life is in a keg, and its anthems are typically loud and lewd. It is a game for the rowdy, and its cup runneth over with overmasculinized camaraderie. So what's so special about another rugby club full of loutish drinking and violent scrums? The Houston Roughnecks RFC is a rugby club that publicly proclaims that it doesn't discriminate based on anything, particularly sexual orientation. But is it a "gay" rugby club? "We are a rugby team that has many gay players," says the team's Web site. "We were formed as a diverse team where EVERYONE would feel welcome." Whether they're gay or otherwise, expect a lot of tough guys on the field. You can find out more at the Roughnecks recruitment booth from 8 p.m. to midnight. Friday, April 30. JR.'s Bar and Grill, 804 Pacific. For information, visit www.roughnecksrugby.org. $25 membership. -- Eric Norvell

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