By Briana Thomas, Special to the AFRO
The D.C. Council held a hearing on Oct. 30 to designate Go-Go as the official music genre of the District.
The public hearing brought together nearly 50 musicians, D.C. residents, and community activists, including Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5) who introduced the bill in support of preserving the sound of Go-Go music in the city.
“To me, and I’d imagine a lot of folks in this room, it’s more than simply a genre of music. It is a lifestyle. It is the sound of the city, it is woven into the fabric of the District of Columbia, and in my opinion, D.C. doesn’t have culture without Go-Go music,” McDuffie said at the hearing.
The Go-Go Official Music of the District of Columbia Designation Act of 2019 was introduced in June by McDuffie and co-sponsored by all 13 D.C. Council members. If implemented, the bill would make Go-Go the official music of D.C., as well as require the mayor to create a program that protects, preserves and archives the musical genre along with its history.
McDuffie said the bill was sparked by the April emergence of the #DontMuteDC and #LongLiveGoGo movements that formed in protest of a Shaw luxury apartment resident complaint to shut off the Go-Go music playing outside a Metro PCS storefront at Florida Avenue and Seventh Street NW.
In response, community activists, music bands, and Washingtonians took to the U Street corridor to defend the playing of the music that had been a part of the area’s culture for decades.
The protests addressed the ongoing debate about gentrification in D.C.
“It brought thousands of people together…that’s the power of Go-Go,” McDuffie said in reference to the now nationally known rallies.
McDuffie said at the hearing that the bill is important to him as a native Washingtonian.
The hearing attendees testified that Go-Go has had a major impact on D.C. artistry and community throughout the years, especially among African Americans.
Ron Moten, founder of #DontMuteDC, said at the hearing that he can remember sneaking out the house as a teenager to see live Go-Go performances from groups like, Chuck Brown, EU and Trouble Funk.
Moten said back then block parties and Go-Gos were safe and weren’t considered too loud. He explained that over time drugs and violence prompted Go-Go music to be taken out of schools and local venues.
Now, D.C. residents are banding together to revive the culture of Go-Go as Moten expressed that the genre used to be the “lifeline” of D.C.
Go-Go was founded in the 1970s by the late Chuck Brown.
The hearing ended with a performance by Black Passion Band in City Hall.
Lawmakers expect to vote on the bill next year. Public comment on the bill will be accepted on Nov. 13.