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 Mayor Muriel Bowser, the BYT’s Svetlana Legetic, Story District’s Amy Saidman and more.
C. Brian Williams really loves D.C. — he even has affection for the Metro. “I like the public transportation part of it,” says Williams, 49. “I like to not just enjoy the destinations, but the process of moving through the city, too.” Williams has gotten to know WMATA and the local arts scene pretty well over the past two decades as executive director of Step Afrika!, the dance troupe dedicated to stepping that he founded after learning about the dance form while studying at Howard University. Having lived and worked in D.C. for nearly 30 years, Williams says, “I could probably do several dream days. But I’ll go with this one — for now.”
I would open my day at Calabash Tea. I love the way it smells, I love the people who work there. I’d have that amazing chai or, better yet, I’d just let the baristas ask me, “How are you feeling?” and let them structure something based on what I need that morning.
I wanna get a little exercise in, so I’d go down to Kennedy Recreation Center on Seventh and P streets. I might do that little outdoor track they have, and they have these exercises you can do, you know, pushup bars and other little exercises.
Since I’ve exercised and I’m feeling good, I wanna get something to eat. I like Sumah’s West African Restaurant on Seventh Street. Or I’d do something really historic and go to Saint’s Paradise Cafeteria, in this historic church on Sixth and N, for a little taste of D.C. soul food. It’s like walking into 1940s, 1950s D.C.
I’ll take a Capital Bikeshare or the X2 bus down to H Street NE to Atlas Performing Arts Center and go by the office for a sec to see the dancers and connect with the artists. We just had our successful off-Broadway run, and right now we’re in rehearsals to bring that show [“The Migration: Reflections on Jacob Lawrence”] back home in D.C. in June.
Then I’m gonna get on the trolley and go to Kingman Island, which is a total hidden treasure. It’s a beautiful reserve on the Anacostia. You feel like you’re a thousand miles from the city, and you’re right underneath a Metro [track]. I’ll probably hang around there, get a little walk in after that heavy lunch.
It’s time to head over to Shaw. I’ll probably meet some friends for drinks in Blagden Alley. D.C. has so many hidden, secret spots. When you’re in those little alleys, it feels like you’re discovering new, cool things. I like The Dabney, the environment is great; the Columbia Room, where you get those high-end cocktails; and I love that Asian restaurant, Tiger Fork.
As an artist, I gotta catch a show. I might check out Mosaic Theater Company, maybe something at the Kennedy Center, Arena Stage, or even Theater Alliance in Southeast D.C. Definitely gonna do some arts and see what’s up in the scene.
There’s this club I like to hang out at when I do hang out: Flash. The music is very, very different. They have really good DJs and house music.
One of my favorite jukeboxes is at Ben’s Chili Bowl. I’d hit there around 2 a.m. and wind the night down. When I was here in the late ’80s, there was only Ben’s and Lee’s Flower Shop and Industrial Bank [on U Street]. Ben’s has been through so much, so I like to go there and see them thriving in the city.