Grad school brought Ayesha Chugh to D.C. in 2010, and international do-gooding kept her occupied for a few years after graduation. But in 2015, Chugh quit her job to pursue her true calling: spinning a polyrhythmic, globe-trotting mix of dance music at festivals including Broccoli City, Bonnaroo and Trillectro as DJ Ayes Cold. You can catch her act Tuesdays at 6 p.m. in the lobby of The Line hotel in Adams Morgan (with sets broadcast live online via Full Service Radio), or on New Year’s Eve at U Street Music Hall (1115 U St. NW; Sun., 9 p.m., $12). Born in Chicago and raised in India, Chugh, 30, is a self-proclaimed nomad, but she’s also a big fan of her adopted hometown of D.C. What’s in the mix for the DJ’s perfect D.C. day?
I’d wake up on time for breakfast. I don’t get to do this very often because I’m often DJ’ing out late. So I’d stop by Maketto and get their yogurt parfait, which comes with a little lemon curd in it. I’d top that off with granola — a barista gave me that tip. It’s delicious. I’d do that with some espresso. Then, if my income were more disposable, I’d go shopping at the storefront of Maketto, which has a pretty awesome sneaker selection, and I’d walk away with a new pair of Vans.
Then I’d head to the National Arboretum for a nice long walk, and I’d take a blanket and a book. Since it’s my dream day, the sun would be shining and the birds would be singing. I’d sit down by the magnolia trees or the dogwoods and finish reading “This Is Your Brain on Music” [by Daniel J. Levitin]. I picked it up recently at Capitol Hill Books in Eastern Market and it’s great so far. I recommend it for anyone, even if you’re not a DJ and you’re just interested in the history of humans and music.
After that, I’d probably skip over to Union Market. There’s some pretty awesome people-watching over there, especially on weekends. I’d watch the buzz for a little bit and then I’d pay a visit to the new Burmese bodega, Toli Moli, and I’d get a tea leaf salad. They also make faloodas, which are layered dessert drinks, so I’d get one of those too.
Then I’d walk to Dupont Circle and make my way to Kramerbooks. It’s like a D.C. institution. I love the combination of the coffee shop and bookstore — I wish we had more of those. I’d probably get another book and then sit out in the circle and read it for a while.
It’s probably 5 p.m. now, and I’m starting to get hungry again, so I’d grab a LimeBike or a Mobike — I downloaded all the bike-share apps — and head to Columbia Heights and get a simple, delicious meal at Letena. Letena is a deli-style Ethiopian restaurant and it’s one of the best-kept secrets in that neighborhood, foodwise. Their ingredients are super fresh, the presentation of the food is beautiful and the owner is super hospitable. I’d meet a friend there and we’d get their signature tibs — they are like stir-fry strips of meat — and their doro wot, a chicken stew. We’d also get the vegetarian sampler.
Then I might stop by U Street Music Hall and see what’s popping, or I’d check out Velvet Lounge or Service Bar. Between those three places, you’re bound to find a decent DJ. And maybe I’d swing by All Souls for a nightcap before I head home, depending on how I’m feeling, because it’s been a very active day.
(As told to Sadie Dingfelder)
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. See previous dream days from NPR’s Ari Shapiro, the Hirshhorn’s Melissa Chiu, comedian Natalie McGill and more.