On June 5, Washington, D.C. council member Kenyan McDuffie introduced the Go-Go Official Music of the District of Columbia Designation Act of 2019. Go-go is the heavily percussive music-culture begun by the inimitable musician Chuck Brown in the 1970s that quickly became the quintessential element of D.C.’s Chocolate City era, right alongside Ben’s Chili Bowl, mumbo sauce, and Madness shirts. Why the district is just now officially recognizing it has everything to do with how it tried to bury the culture for decades, due to a perception that it bred violence.
Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, D.C.’s city council passed curfew laws, levied heavy business property taxes, issued liquor board violations, and intensified law enforcement around go-go venues, which nearly eviscerated go-go culture from Washington’s landscape. But go-go stood its ground this past spring, when a resident of a luxury apartment building tried to stamp it out.