The go-go bill, introduced by D.C. Council member Kenyan R. McDuffie (D-Ward 5), still needs to clear another council vote and be approved by Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D) before taking effect.
Eventually, McDuffie said, go-go could create jobs and be a factor in D.C. tourism or provide the basis for artists’ grants and residencies.
“You can’t go to New Orleans without hearing jazz,” McDuffie said last year. “If you come to the nation’s capital, you’re going to hear go-go music.”
The bill, which was unanimously voted out of committee last month, requires the mayor to construct a plan “to support, preserve and archive Go-Go music and its history.”
“Thank you to all of my colleagues for being incredibly supportive of this measure,” McDuffie said Tuesday.
Go-go was born in the District’s live-music dance halls of the 1970s, where it earned its name from one of the genre’s founders, the late Chuck Brown, who said he was trying to keep people grooving with a beat that just “goes and goes.”
The music’s distinct blend of percussion and beats from funk, salsa, soul, gospel, blues and Latin music seeped into D.C. neighborhoods, schools and block parties.
But it was not always so warmly received.
The idea of city officials lending universal support to a go-go preservation bill would have been nearly unthinkable 30 years ago, when lawmakers instituted strict curfews on D.C. youths and blamed go-go concerts for contributing to a number of social ills, including drug use and gang violence.
For decades, the genre has struggled against institutional prejudice and a declining interest, experts have said.
Last year, the #DontMuteDC movement breathed new life into the go-go scene.
In April, a Shaw electronics store that doubles as a go-go hot spot known for its stream of music pouring into the street suddenly went silent after a resident of nearby luxury condos complained about the music. The District sprang to the store’s defense.
Residents protested in the streets, blasting go-go from their car stereos, cellphones and other devices. Politicians and community activists held rallies in support. The #DontMuteDC hashtag, coined by a Howard University student, took off.
Go-go became the sound of a movement and a pushback against gentrification sweeping the city. Though the store’s music returned days later, with the support of T-Mobile’s CEO, the slogan — and the sentiment it inspired — has endured.