The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

How Gregory ‘Sugar Bear’ Elliott would spend a perfect day in D.C.

3 min

In D.C. Dream Day, we ask our favorite people in the area to tell us how they would spend a perfect day in the District.

When Gregory “Sugar Bear” Elliott released one of his first singles with E.U., “Peace Gone Away,” more than 40 years ago, he hoped the song would bring awareness to the increasing gun violence in his native D.C. He didn’t anticipate that its message would still be relevant today.

“I’m using my platform to bring awareness of these situations,” says Elliott, who recently rereleased the song with a new music video to ring in Experience Unlimited’s birthday. “When people come in multitudes to see our shows, I do let them know and go down [from the stage] to talk to them and say, ‘Violence is not the answer, you don’t have to do that.’ ”

E.U. puts a fresh spin on an old cut for a new generation of fans

Born and raised in Southeast D.C., Elliott sees himself not just as the frontman of one of D.C.’s most revered musical acts, but as a spokesperson for change in his community, where he still resides. The kind of go-go music E.U. makes is more than just heady percussion-led hits to get folks moving on the dance floor — it’s the kind of live show that’ll ignite people to step up on bigger issues, too.

Getting that face time with fans is key for Elliott, and on his dream day in D.C., he would put on a big show with his longtime bandmates. Plus, he’d squeeze in time to visit the local businesses that make the city still feel like home for him.

I get up and pray every day, asking the Lord to protect me and protect our community and our children and our streets and our family. And then I would go to my day job, which is teaching special ed children at Alexandria City High School. From there, in my downtime, I love going to movies, and usually, I like catching some sort of action movie. I patronize the Regal Gallery Place and the AMC Georgetown 14. Back in the day, I would go to Union Station.

From there, I would go to Ben’s Chili Bowl. I wouldn’t get the half-smoke. I would get a cheeseburger with mustard, onions and relish and french fries.

I love patronizing the Howard Theatre, especially entertaining there. I love the sound and the love we get from there. And the Hamilton, love playing there. The vibe at both spots is very festive, and when people come there, they know that they’re going to get a good show and a big party. And that’s what I like — everyone knows what to expect. And they don’t expect anything less when they see E.U.

When I have free time, which is very rare, I love going to a game. On this day, I would probably go see the Wizards play at Capital One Arena. I love supporting the home team.

For dinner, I would go to Ruth’s Chris Steak House and get the stuffed chicken. Always the stuffed chicken. The chicken is usually stuffed with some type of herbs and spices and cheese. The cheesy base is just unbelievable.

Then I would go to the National Museum of African American History and Culture. E.U. played there during its grand opening, and we were able to get a private tour of the museum, and it was very emotional. There was happiness, there was sadness — just a great time in my life. There’s so much stuff to see there. From where we [Black people] were then to where we are now, we still have a long way to go.