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Dianne Victor
Culture

The Sound of D.C.

Washington D.C., the nation’s capital, has a style and sound all its own. From the row homes to the Chesapeake Bay crabs that you can get nowhere else, D.C. is in a lane of its own. One characteristic of D.C. in particular that you can find nowhere else in the world is Go-go. The sound of D.C., Go-go is the quintessential DC soundtrack. Blending funk, the percussion, and soul, Go-go is in the DNA of every native Washingtonian. However, with rising rates of gentrification, it seems that go-go was threatened. Despite, this and with the power of the #DontMuteDC movement, go-go is well and alive in the city and not going anywhere. 

Starting out primarily in the 1970’s, go-go mixes the sounds of funk, blues, and soul, with an undeniable influence from Africa with the use of percussion. There have been numerous talents to be labeled the pioneers of go-go in D.C., however, a few choice names stick out from the rest. E.U, Critical Condition Band, the Junkyard Band, and last but not least the Godfather of go-go, Chuck Brown. All of these D.C. music icons are the highlights of go-go, and DMV celebrities in their own right influencing the culture with their discographies and impromptu concerts held all over the city for decades. 

With changes occurring in D.C., along with numerous cities all across this nation, gentrification posed a threat to go-go and the sound of the city in itself. The #DontMuteDCMovement along with the love of go-go felt throughout the DMV, go-go has continued to be a focal point in D.C. culture despite some may say that it’s disruptive. Regardless of who or what is coming on or out of the city, it’s a fact that D.C. is a Black city and that go-go, while loved by all races in the DMV, was created and pioneered by Black musicians and will never leave, because it’s a part of who we are as the DMV. 

Go-go is so much more than a type of music, it is an entire culture. D.C. was built upon the resiliency of its citizens, and go-go is a manifestation of this resilience and love for the nation’s capital. Faceted in the heart of the DMV, go-go is the sound of D.C. and the foundation of DMV culture, all pioneered by its Black citizens.

Simone Nixon is a junior biology major, chemistry minor from Maryland. She enjoys telling the stories of the world around her and hearing the stories of others. She plans to pursue a career in the healthcare field, while also pursuing her interests in writing and lifestyle.
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