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Washington DC: Benoit And Sergio Take Us On A Tour Of Our Nation’s Capital

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• Latitude (shown as a horizontal line) is the angular distance, in degrees, minutes and seconds of a point north or south of the Equator. Lines of latitude are often referred to as parallels. • Longitude (shown as a vertical line) is the angular distance, in degrees, minutes and seconds, of a point east or west of the Prime (Greenwich) Meridian. Lines of longitude are often referred to as meridians.

DC is a provincial town. It is small but has the right amount of things to do for the casual socialite. The absence of high-rises and a dense vegetation make the city very agreeable to live in. -Benoit

We’ve been hooked on Benoit & Sergio’s shimmering pop sensibilities, rhythms and melodies for a minute now. Between “Midnight People” on Spectral Sound, "Walk and Talk" for the Visionquest imprint or their recently released EP on DFA, we here at Magnetic are intensely enthusiastic for what ever else this duo might release in the future. But that’s not what the focus is today. We’re here to get a personal look at this duo's Washington DC—a virtual tour, if you will. This is not meant to be a cool test in any way shape or form. Think of this as a hometown primer. A way to give you, the reader, an intimate look at a city through the lens of  two individual artists…and perhaps establish a bit of a personal connection outside of their creative realm. Although not natively from our Nation’s Capital (Benoit is from Paris currently living in DC, Sergio from Iowa currently in Berlin) the duo, in 2008, linked up by chance at a party in Washington DC and haven’t looked back since...they both has something to say about the city where it all started. Welcome to Washington DC... as seen through the eyes of Benoit and Sergio.

DC has grown on me. At first I disliked it for being a gentle, slow, small city. Now I love it for being that way. Maybe Ive just grown and DC has stayed the same. -Sergio

Favorite local hangout:

The Bishops Garden in the shadows of the National Cathedral. Ive spent countless hours there with friends. Its the loveliest spot in DC. -Sergio


Dupont Circle is a good place to start. You can sit on a bench and observe whatever is going on in the circle. For drinks, you have Bar Dupont right around the corner. Comfortable couches and great drinks. On my very first day in DC, I went up to the Cathedral and hung around in the beautiful gardens surrounding it. There is a very special atmosphere there, very peaceful and appropriate for a read or a meditative moment. -Benoit

Winning Restaurants:


Kafe Leopold: 3315 M St. NW, Washington, DC 20007
Sergio: I like Leopold's in Georgetown for a mid-afternoon winter repast. It is warm and well lit and the food—Austrian—is quite good.

Tabard Inn: 1739 N St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Sergio: In the spring and summer, I love dining in the courtyard of the Tabard Inn.
Benoit: Go here for a brunch in the sun—in the back patio—with a friend. It has this classic “DC institution” feel.

Malaysia Kopitiam: 1827 M St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Sergio: Finally, Kopitiam on M Street, next to Camelot (a strip club). The atmosphere at Kopitiam could be better (think Laundromat mixed with interrogation room), but the food is amazing—especially the chicken rendang, though I wish they still served it off the bone.

Estadio:1520 14th Street Northwest, Washington, DC 20005
Benoit: This spot is nice if you want a busier restaurant with an impeccable menu: the tapas there are the best. Overall, DC has lots of remarkable restaurants.

Bar Pilar:1833 14th Street Northwest Washington D.C., DC 20009
Benoit: A comfort-food place that is worth the detour.

Pizzeria Paradiso:2003 P St NW Washington, DC 20036 (Dupont Circle)
Benoit: For beer and pizza, go to Pizzeria Paradiso and get the “Atomica” and a beer from their wide selection.

Open City:2331 Calvert St. NW Washington, DC 20008
Benoit: Pizzeria Paradiso is good for brunches or lunches, but you also have Open City in Adams Morgan. This place is great for its big terrace in the sun. During the week, not many people are there, so you can hang out and use the Internet for as long as you want.

I love:

Walking around the residential streets of Georgetown at night in any season. I love the vibe around the Dupont Circle metro stop around 5 pm in the spring. -Sergio


Walking around Georgetown or Dupont Circle at dusk. There is a sense of quiet that is very soothing, especially on Sundays when locals debrief their relaxing weekends on the street. Playing tennis in the spring, in Georgetown or in Dupont Circle, on either side of Rock Creek. Hitting the many pools DC offers in the summer: Volta pool in Georgetown for people watching, Francis pool if you’re more into laps, the Capitol Skyline one for proper pool parties. The Zoo is somewhat fascinating as well. Right in the city, it is still a decently sized zoo, and not depressing like some zoos can be. A great destination for the fall. Rock Creek is also a great classic; suitable for runners, bikers and/or romantic walkers. It is nice to bike ride along Rock Creek and the Potomac and continue on to Ohio drive. An all-year long treat. -Benoit

I loathe:

The Mall. It feels rundown and sad to me, like some threadbare hotel that was perhaps once was magnificent. -Sergio

How to kill time without blowing the bank:


Kramerbooks: 1517 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036
Sergio: I've spent a lot of time at Kramer's Bookstore and Georgetown's library. I love libraries and books and things having to do with reading in general. The location is great—right off the Circle. The energy is great no matter the time of day. The fiction section is very good. The philosophy/theory section could be expanded. Hint, hint, Kramer's.

Folger Library: 201 East Capitol Street, SE, Washington, DC 20003
Sergio: The theatre at the Folger Library reminds one of the Globe in London and is wonderful for seeing smart people read poems.


Museums are free so they are definitively a must-go if you want to kill time on the cheap, while educating yourself. I recommend the East National Gallery (modern). Its building is worth the trip…Just walking around otherwise. Looking at Georgetown houses or walking along the Chesapeake Canal. -Benoit

Best place to people watch:

If you revel, as I do, in studying abjection, Addams Morgan on Friday or Saturday night is about as depressing (or fascinating) as it gets. By 2 am, the area throbs with a gory, drunken libido and its fun to watch the parade of impending erotic misadventures. -Sergio

As mentioned, Bar Dupont is a good people-watching place. In the heart of Dupont, it can be relatively hopping from 6 pm to 9 pm, right in the pathway of the people coming back from work and others searching for a happy hour or dinner place. Napoleon is also a good place at night. And Leopold (in Georgetown) is pretty good too, if you’re into Georgetown crowd watching. -Benoit

Favorite Bar:

Fox and Hounds: 1537 17th St NW, Washington, DC 20036
Sergio: The jukebox is loaded with jams and the gin and tonics are super strong and cheap. And it's a bit of a dive inside, which is to say that it's unpretentious and comfortable.

Urbana:2121 P Street NW Washington, DC 20037
Benoit: This is a nice wine bar (and a restaurant as well—great happy hour deals). For super dives, you have Velvet Lounge or Chief Hikes. E.S.L. is also great—a DC classic.

Best boutique:

Lost Boys: 1033 31st St NW, Washington, DC 20007
Sergio: This spot tailors to the mild metrosexual man of means. The clothes aren’t too loud and the girls who run it are cute and fun and cool.

Som Records:1843 14th Street NW Washington, DC 20009
Benoit: Not a boutique. A nice small record shop with a good selection and great discount crates.

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Best Coffee Shop:

Soho Café:2150 P St NW Washington, DC 20037 (Dupont)
Benoit: The staff there is just great. All characters.

The best place to see the sunrise and sunset:

Sunrise always depresses me, so I wouldnt know. Sunset: the rooftops of friends in Dupont provide panorama views of clouds and sunsets, if youre into watching clouds and the sun setting. -Sergio


The Mall can be really nice with the right sunset. Along the Potomac is always a good bet as well (on either Ohio drive or on the more busy Waterfront). -Benoit

Hometown hero:

The Upper School Faculty at St. Albans. Ive never met such genuinely giving and caring people. -Sergio

Place you’d never catch me:

Any of those new KFC/Taco Bell conglomerations with the grimy floors that, from the street, always seem to be littered with discarded napkins. -Sergio

Best hotel:


Hay Adams: 1 Lafayette SQ, Washington, DC 20001
Sergio: I had a tempestuous girl visiting me in DC. We got in a fight, as usual, and she stormed off to the Hay Adams. She has always had impeccable taste. I got a letter from her on its stationary a couple days after she'd left, saying she wished I'd been there with her, so I assume it's very nice.

Favorite local DJ:

Ive always loved Solomon Sanchezs taste in music, as a DJ and as a man. When I first got to DC, the city’s seeming universal enthusiasm for Thievery Corporation dismayed me, but then I met Solomon. Thanks, friend. -Sergio

The Future Times crew is solid, together with the Beautiful Swimmers and Protect-U. All super nice and really chill people. I really enjoyed their set one night they were playing at U-Hall. They also played at one of the Capitol Skyline hotel parties, spinning the rarest space disco and funk one can find. It was perfect to listen to this in the sun by the pool. -Benoit

Best club night:

I like the basement of Napoleon (1847 Columbia Road N.W., Washington, DC 20009). The sound isnt amazing, but it is cramped and loud and small and doesnt get too douchey. I also love the Rendezvous (2226 18th St. N.W., Washington, DC 20009) on Friday/Saturday nights. -Sergio

I like the nights spent with friends from the electronic scene in DC. Be it at the Warehouse, Comet Ping Pong, Sweet Spot or U Street Dance Hall. Napoleon is also a nice place for a more top-40s kind of night. -Benoit

Take on the weather and (natural) environment:

Compared to Berlin, it seems like the weather in DC is always sunny and warm, even in the winter, when its cold and cloudy. -Sergio

Weather’s great. Summers may get too hot and humid but I don’t mind. -Benoit

Posture of police:

I lived in Baltimore before DC and I felt like I never saw a cop in that charming wasteland of a city, so DC felt like a police state when I moved to town. I would drive up Mass Ave at night and see more cop cars than Hondas. The cops seem ok—as ok as cops can seem, I guess. Though a friend of mine was taken to jail for jay walking a month or so ago, so maybe they arent so ok. -Sergio

Coming from Boston (cowboys central), I find the police in DC to be very chill-out. The overall rule of the city seems to be slow paced (cf. the 60+ seconds crossing signs). The few interactions I’ve had with a cop actually ended up in the tone of a joke or a witty comment, with no sanction. But my situation may not be representative of the majority of the DC population, unfortunately. -Benoit

Attitude of populace:

There is a lot of turnover in DC so there is less of a sense of pride for the city. You don’t have the excessive regionalism you can find in some other cities (sports hooligans, or the overly authentic locals). All in all, people are low key, welcoming and not in your face. -Benoit

How to get around town:

Walking. It gives you a sense of vague accomplishment to get from one neighborhood to another. And the city is small enough so that you can feel this fleeting self-worth many times a day in many different neighborhoods. -Sergio

Biking. DC is quite bike friendly. Avoid the main large avenues of downtown at peak hours but other than that, it is relatively safe and easy to go all around town with a bike. The city also has rental bikes if you don’t have your own. -Benoit

Favorite walk:


Around the Close, which is the general name for the property on which rests the National Cathedral. -Sergio

Best/worst memory which can be attributed to the city:

I think what I have liked most about my time in DC is that, thankfully, Ive had no horrible memories, no traumas. Whenever I walk down the streets, Im not reminded of heartbreak on every corner, as I experience in some other places. -Sergio

The only bad memory I have of DC is when I got hit by a car after a nice summer happy hour with friends. I attribute this to the city because I’ve noticed some quite poor driving skills all around. One great memory attributable to DC is the Obama Inauguration. Lots of friends came into town and the city was just exploding. A very festive and happy week. -Benoit

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