DC Public Library is celebrating your Go-Go story during Go-Go Preservation Week 2023. Preserving Go-Go is special because we have an opportunity to capture and share the story behind the iconic beat that can be heard blasting from car windows, on the corner of 7th and Florida, or on the dance floor of Aqua. The history of Go-Go is ongoing, as the beat evolves, so does its story and you play a key role. Every time you attend a show, buy a record, snag a poster or meet one of your Go-Go idols, you are a part of Go-Go's story.
During Go-Go Preservation Week 2023 from Nov. 12 - 18, we invite you to immerse yourself in Go-Go. Come to the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library to view exhibitions featuring highlights from the collection. Hear first-hand accounts of major moments in Go-Go from the drummers who create the iconic beat. Turn up the volume while streaming Go-Go with your library card. Consider donating your Go-Go story to the Archive. Help us show how the beat goes on.
About the Go-Go Archive
Go-Go is a style of funk that originated in Washington in the 1970s. Known for heavy bass, driving percussion and call-and-response, the genre has become one of the most popular music forms in the city. In memory of music icon Chuck Brown, the DC Public Library established a Go-Go Archive in 2012 to honor, preserve, teach and enjoy DC's original music.
The Go-Go Archive captures both well-documented and lesser-known stories from groups like organizations, record labels, houses, venues, festivals, record shops, radio stations and artists. Currently, the Library has more than 20 linear feet of materials in various formats including photographs, books, magazines, records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs and video.
Donate to the Go-Go Archive
The Go-Go Archive is created in part from the records and reflections of everyday Washingtonians. Help tell the story of Go-Go music and venues past and present. The Library is accepting materials including:
- CDs and audio recordings of Chuck Brown and other Go-Go musicians
- flyers and posters
- concert-ticket stubs
- videos or DVDs
- letters that describe attending a Go-Go concert
If you would like to contribute to our archive, please contact us at email@example.com or call 202-727-1213. Items donated to the archive will be reviewed by Library staff. Selected items will be organized, preserved and made accessible for generations to come. By sharing your Go-Go memories, students, researchers and historians will be able to access the rich history of the archive free of charge.
Saturday, Nov. 18, Doors Open at 6 p.m., Show from 7 - 10 p.m.
Join DC Public Library for an electrifying evening at Busboys and Poets bringing you right into the pocket of two incredible Go-Go bands, Critical Condition Band (CCB) and Urban Rhythm Band (URB)! Immerse yourself in the vibrant rhythm of this iconic genre, celebrating the rich heritage of D.C.'s official beat. This show is FREE with your DC Public Library Card! Don't have a card? You can sign up online or you can sign up on site at the event.
Sunday, Nov. 19, Noon - 5 p.m.
Join us in creating lasting memories as we celebrate the love of books and the vibrant spirit of D.C.'s iconic Go-Go scene. It's a FREE day of family fun, literary exploration, and rhythmic delight. Kraken Kourts & Skates, the 70,000 square foot venue, features a roller skating rink, pickleball courts, ping pong, cornhole, and giant Jenga. It is a child’s dream place to play! Sign up for the Beyond the Book Club as you enjoy live performances by Backyard Band and RCA Band. Hosted by DJ Rico. And for another touch of D.C. magic - The Commanders game will be shown on all of Kraken's ten TV's! Sponsored by the DC Public Library Foundation.
Go-Go Archive Show and Tell Sessions
What is a Go-Go PA tape? Wouldn’t you love to see a E.U. (Experience Unlimited) hat autographed by the one and only Sugar Bear? Do you remember those colorful Globe posters hanging up all over the city advertising your favorite Go-Go band? Join us at the DC Public Library for “Show and Tell” sessions for Go-Go Preservation Week. Selected items from the Go-Go Archive will be on display and staff will be available to discuss the items and answer questions.
- Tuesday, Nov. 14, 1 - 3 p.m.
- Tuesday, Nov. 14, 5 - 7 p.m.
- Thursday, Nov. 16, 5 - 7 p.m.
- Saturday, Nov. 18, 4 - 5:30 p.m.
Share Your Go-Go Story
During Go-Go Preservation Week, library staff will be stationed in the Great Hall at various times to capture your personal Go-Go stories! You will be able to share your favorite Go-Go memories, your pick for most underrated band, the best album, your most missed club and more.
Stream Go-Go Programs On Demand
Stream great Go-Go programs, including an author talk with Ronald Moten on his book Don't Mute Moe: The Vision of an Urban Scholar, panels with Go-Go artists and scholars on the history of Go-Go in D.C. and a series on Go-Go Music that is great for families!
Archiving the Groove: Go-Go Collection Highlights
In celebration of Go-Go Preservation Week 2023, the DC Public Library is opening "Archiving the Groove: Go-Go Collection Highlights." The exhibit opens on Nov. 13 and will continue through Dec. 3, in The Great Hall of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library. "Archiving the Groove" presents photographs and posters from two new collections in the Go-Go Archive.
The Thomas Sayers Ellis Go-Go Collection features photographs from s the genre's transformative years, particularly the rise of prominent Go-Go artists in the 1990s and 2000s, underscoring the genre's impact on their careers and the D.C. area at large. Complementing this, the Alona Wartofsky Go-Go Collection offers a journalistic view, with memorabilia and LPs that trace Go-Go's story as reflected in media. Drawn from both of these collections are a selection of iconic Go-Go posters, produced by Globe Poster Printing Corporation during the Go-Go heyday of the 1980s. These vibrant, eye-catching "DayGlo" fliers and posters became a visual staple around D.C. bus stops and stores, signaling the events that would fuel the city's unique musical heartbeat.
Books About the Beat
Oral Histories of Go-Go
John 'JB' Buchanan and Lino Druitt | Soul Searchers
Original members of the legendary Soul Searchers Go-Go Band, John 'JB' Buchanan and Lino Druitt, sit down with Darrin 'X' Frazier to discuss the origins of Go-Go, their experience playing in the band, Chuck Brown, their opinions on the present condition of Go-Go and D.C., and their hopes for the future of Go-Go.
Bobbie Westmoreland | Founding Member Go-Go Coalition
Ms. Westmoreland discusses growing up in the District of Columbia, and becoming immersed in go-go culture as a bartender, and later as a founding member of the Go-Go Coalition. Ms. Westmoreland was born in 1965. She was former bartender at Go-Gos, former member of the Go-Go Coalition.
Daniel 'Hollywood Breeze' Clayton | Breeze's Metro Club
The following oral history took place in November 3, 2021, Go-Go Preservation Week. Mr. Clayton is the proprietor of Breeze’s Metro Club, which operated for 28 years off Bladensburg Road in the District’s Ward 5. The proprietor talks about his roots as a radio and club deejay, establishing a record pool for deejays in the area, acquiring the property at 2335 Bladensburg Rd, NE. Mr. Henry Manning a veteran videography and photographer of go-go, filmed the interview at Mr. Clayton’s studio in suburban Maryland.
Dr. Adrienne Petty | History Professor, College of William and Mary
Dr. Petty, a history professor at the College of William and Mary, discusses growing up middle class and the private school go-go circuit, and what role it played in shaping her identity as a Black woman and a Native Washingtonian. She explores’ go-go political, cultural and class dimensions within the predominantly Black city.
Karis Hill | Be'La Dona
Ms. Hill, a founding member and Lead Talker in the all-female go-go band Be’La Dona, discusses growing up in the District of Columbia and Anne Arundel County, Maryland, and being mentored by music teachers and go-go stars including Chuck Brown and James Funk, learning to play the drums and the art of being a lead talker whose job it is to read and move the crowd.