The Atlantic has chimed in with a lament for Washington’s endangered go-go scene. In the July 2 piece, writer Abdul Ali interviews Natalie Hopkinson, author of the new book “Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City.”
The article outlines how local authorities have cracked down on the go-go scene over the years, but the opening paragraphs jump out.
After the death of go-go progenitor Chuck Brown in May, Ali says he witnessed “a clash” between mourners and authorities outside of the Howard Theatre, describing it as “a rowdy showdown between go-go fans and the police.” It’s unclear whether Ali is referring to the impromptu gathering outside of the Howard on the evening of May 16 or the official wake on May 29, but both events were reported to be largely, if not entirely, peaceful.
Ali declined to comment on the story, but said that the Atlantic will be posting a revised version shortly. [4:09 p.m. — It has been updated with the following clarification: “This post originally misstated and omitted some key details from the scene in the first two paragraphs. We regret the errors.”]
Read the story’s original two paragraphs below:
Gentrification, hostility from police, and its own insularity has pushed Chuck Brown's brand of party-starting funk to the margins of the nation's capital.
“A little more than a month ago, thousands descended on Washington, D.C.'s Howard Theater to say goodbye to a legend. Chuck Brown, the guitarist who became synonymous with D.C.'s go-go music scene, had died at age 75. But while the assembled waited for the wake to begin, a man in a police jersey showed up and told the crowd to disband. The event quickly became political—a turf battle between the establishment and the fading, working-class, black population that calls go-go music its own.
The crowd didn't budge. Instead, it got more vocal and agitated. "Wind me up, Chuck," the masses roared (a common refrain shouted at Mr. Brown's concerts.) The clash may have looked to an onlooker like a rowdy showdown between go-go fans and the police, but it was also a lament from a community who over the past decade has witnessed repeated, flagrant reminders that their music isn't welcome in the new vision of D.C.” (Read the full story here.)