WASHINGTON — One District of Columbia councilmember wants to make go-go the official music of "Chocolate City" after at least one resident in the rapidly gentrifying Shaw neighborhood complained about the beat.
Councilmember Kenyan McDuffie wants to amend city code to enshrine go-go music as a part of the fabric of the District, he said in a news release. His 12 other colleagues on the council also are sponsors of the bill.
"To me, and so many other native Washingtonians, go-go music has become so much more than just a musical genre." he said. "Designating go-go the official music of the city signals to those who have been here and to those who continue to move here, that this music represents the lived experiences of native Washingtonians."
Go-go, which has its roots in the early 1970s in Washington, had been taken for granted in Shaw. The neighborhood began as a freed slave encampment, became home to Howard University in 1866 and was considered the center of black culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
But as the neighborhood was revitalized in the 2000s from the 1960s riots and 1990s crack epidemic, newcomers changed its racial makeup and had little idea of its history.
In March, T-Mobile received a complaint about loud go-go music coming from its vendor, Central Communications at the corner of Seventh Street and Florida Avenue NW. The company asked Central Communications to "tone it down," owner Donald Campbell told The Washington Post. After a month, the outdoor speakers were unplugged and moved inside.
Resident Julie Guyot called it "the day the music died." Others noticed, too, and complained about the complaint. An online petition eventually received more than 80,000 signatures and gave birth to the Twitter hashtag #DontMuteDC.
The music returned April 10 after T-Mobile's chief executive, John Legere, tweeted, "The music should NOT stop in D.C.!" And residents of the neighborhood gathered to dance in celebration.
McDuffie's legislation does more than proclaim an official music genre, he said Tuesday. It also requires the mayor to put a program in place to support, preserve and archive go-go music, related documents and recordings.
"Go-go will never be muted in the District of Columbia," McDuffie said.
The councilman's bill has at least a half dozen more steps before becoming law: It must be assigned a committee, approved in that committee, get through a second committee consisting of all the councilmembers, be passed in two separate council meetings, go to the mayor for approval and then be sent to the U.S. House for congressional review. (That final step is a special point of contention for many D.C. residents and D.C. statehood activists.)