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Posted under: Politics Culture

Go-Go Is Now The Official Music Of The City After Failed Attempts To Silence The Culture

The volume knobs are "busting loose" from gentrifiers.

Mayor Muriel Bowser publicly signed legislation on Wednesday at the Culture House DC declaring go-go as the official music of the District of Columbia. 

"When I say 'go-go', you say 'Is D.C.,'" Bowser said as she led celebratory chants with the crowd.

The bill, named Go-Go Official Music of the District of Columbia Designation Act of 2019, highlights the glowing history of go-go and the value of its preservation and describes the sounds as "a fusion of musical forms, drawing inspiration from funk, blues, soul, and salsa, blending them seamlessly with its syncopated polyrhythms and multiple percussion instruments."

The newly signed bill also requires the mayor to "design and implement a program to support and preserve, including through marketing, and archive Go-Go music and documents relating to Go-Go music and it's history."

The pre-scheduled signing brought out hundreds of attendees and included a concert with DJ Supa Dan and the Backyard Band. 

Twitter users were beyond thrilled by the historic day.

The bill was originally introduced by Washington, D.C. council member Kenyan McDuffie in June. It was announced amidst pressures from anti-gentrification activists when a popular store, known for playing go-go music, was silenced after public complaints.

MetroPCS franchise owner Donald Campbell, who has played go-go music from his Shaw store for over 24 years, was contacted by parent company T-Mobile about noise complaints, as Blavity previously reported.

“They said, ‘get rid of the music.’ It came from up top that we had to get rid of it,” Campbell told DCist.

Although the store on Chuck Brown Way had been serenading the block named after the “Godfather of Go-Go” since 1995, a tenant of a new luxury condo said he would sue if the music wasn't stopped, DCist reported.

In response, activists launched the #DontMuteDC online campaign and planned a Don’t Mute D.C.—A Call to Action Conference to address the attempted cultural erasure.

In June, while hosting the BET Awards, Regina Hall highlighted the #DontMuteDC campaign with a tribute to go-go music during the opening act.

Ronald Moten, D.C. native and activist, petitioned to halt the silencing and had a heated discussion with Benjamin Kozlowski about his privileged opinion, WJLA reports.

The petition called for residents to "Tell T-Mobile, the city, and residents who don't understand the cultural significance and history of go-go music in Washington, D.C. that this is unacceptable. Bring back the music!"

Demonstrators filled the historic corner on Chuck Brown Way while Shaw neighborhood representative and councilmember Brianna Nadeau spoke at the event.

Nadeau also wrote a letter to T-Mobile's CEO John Legere urging him to reconsider.


Shortly after, Legere had a change of heart and agreed to allow the music to go on. 

“I’ve looked into this issue myself and the music should NOT stop in D.C.!” Legere said in a tweet.

“@TMobile and @MetroByTMobile are proud to be part of the Shaw community – the music will go on and our dealer will work with the neighbors to compromise volume,” Legere said.

With all of the culture that D.C. has given us (including the Mambo Sauce), we are all proud of their official recognition.

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