Things to Do

A Dolly Parton Biography, Chat with Tammy Duckworth, and an Instagram Play: Things to Do in DC, April 1-4

Plus: Talking Lil Nas X and trans visibility.

Illustration by Hannah Good.

Hey folks!

We’ve got classical music, a chat with Sen. Tammy Duckworth, and an Instagram play.

Hear about Dolly Parton’s life and music today.

Here’s what you should check out this weekend:

The vaccine fairy godmother: I’m talking about the one and only Dolly Parton. In She Come By it Natural: Dolly Parton and the Women Who Lived Her Songs, author Sarah Smarsh details Parton’s upbringing and career as she digs into the classic tracks that made Parton a feminist icon. Smarsh will chat about Parton and her book in a virtual chat from the DC Public Library. Thursday 4/1 at 7 PM; Free, watch it on Facebook here.

In the news: Illinois Senator Tammy Duckworth just published her memoir, Every Day is a Gift, which covers her journey from a biracial kid fleeing war in Cambodia to a soldier injured in Iraq to now serving as a Senator and a mom. She’ll chat with CBS News senior White House correspondent Weijia Jiang in a virtual book talk from Sixth & I. Thursday 4/1 at 7 PM; $10-$35 (book included), buy tickets here.

Watch: You’re already psyched about Zola, the first movie based on a viral Twitter thread, so why not try exploring an Instagram play? In his interactive virtual show at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, Rich Kids: A History of Shopping Malls in Tehran, playwright/activist Javaad Alipoor uses Instagram to explore the comedic world of Iran’s elite youth. Available Thursday 4/1 through April 18; $16-$18, buy tickets here.

Listen to something new: Grab a cup of tea and hear from Baltimore-based singer/songwriter Omnia Azar, an R&B and soul singer/songwriter who will perform and then chat about her creative process in a virtual event from the National Museum of Women in the Arts. Friday 4/2 at noon; Free, watch it here.

Through Gen Z’s eyes: Students in Montgomery County within the GB Youth Media organization have put together “Empathy to Solidarity: Activism Through the Media Arts,” a new exhibit of social justice-themed artworks that will be on display at Triangle Arts Studio in Bethesda. Friday 4/2 through April 30; find out more here.

Class act: Five musicians from Detroit-based ensemble Sphinx Virtuosi are performing a virtual concert hosted by the Washington Performing Arts. Tune into this tribute to American classical music including “American Quartet” by Dvořák and “SEVEN,” a piece composed by Andrea Casarrubios that responds to the pandemic. Stay after the show to hear artists and classical music pros discuss their work diversifying the industry and genre. Friday 4/2 at 8 PM (available to stream through Thursday 4/8); $20, buy tickets here.

Waterfront views: The Anthem is still, sadly, closed, but they just launched a weekend-only pop-up bar and restaurant, Camp Anthem. Head to the Wharf for a socially distant outdoor dining experience (with tents) and pray for the day that we can all return to see kickass live shows. Open Fridays through Sundays; learn more here.

Ghost town: Novelist Morowa Yejidé recently released Creatures of Passage, a fascinating book with both living and dead characters that’s set in 1970’s Anacostia. My coworker Rob Brunner chatted with her about her work and influences in this great Q&A.

Something new:

Lil Nas X pulls no punches.
It’s been a week and I still cannot get over Lil Nas X’s epic video for “Montero (Call Me By Your Name).” For context, the song is dedicated to his younger self—his full name is Montero Lamar Hill—which he explained in a note on Twitter: “i know we promised to never come out publicly, i know we promised to never be ‘that’ type of gay person, i know we promised to die with the secret, but this will open doors for many other queer people to simply exist. you see this is very scary for me, people will be angry, they will say i’m pushing an agenda. but the truth is, i am. the agenda to make people stay the fuck out of other people’s lives and stop dictating who they should be.” The video is a must-watch. You’ve probably already heard about it because of the pearl-clutching shock factor: He literally spins down a stripper pole from heaven to hell and gives Satan a lap dance. It’s soooo much better than I’m explaining it to be, but basically there’s been a lot of outrage, and Lil Nas X has been clapping back with skill: “i spent my entire teenage years hating myself because of the shit y’all preached would happen to me because i was gay,” he tweeted. “so i hope u are mad, stay mad, feel the same anger you teach us to have towards ourselves.”

Trust that many of us in the queer community are still having these conversations with family members and friends who refuse to accept our full selves. Despite seeing more queer representation on various levels (in recent TV, movies, government positions, books, etc.), we are still harassed, attacked, and killed for loving who we love and expressing our identities. Yesterday was the International Transgender Day of Visibility, a powerful moment to celebrate people with varying gender identities. At the same time, there are more than 100 anti-trans bills that lawmakers across the country are considering, affecting trans youth in particular. Representation, as essential as it is, does not stop discrimination being written into our laws.

Thanks for reading! Tell me what you’re up to at home by dropping me a line at rcartagena@washingtonian.com.

Web Producer/Writer

Rosa joined Washingtonian in 2016 after graduating from Mount Holyoke College. She covers arts and culture for the magazine. She’s written about anti-racism efforts at Woolly Mammoth Theatre, dinosaurs in the revamped fossil hall at the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum, and the horrors of taking a digital detox. When she can, she performs with her family’s Puerto Rican folkloric music ensemble based in Jersey City. She lives in Adams Morgan.