Go-Go Activism, Both Personal and Political, Is Coming Into Its Power in D.C.

In late August, on the night before Postmaster General Louis DeJoy testified before the House of Representatives about service cuts designed to manipulate the upcoming presidential election, ShutDownDC and Long Live GoGo organized a protest in front of his Kalorama apartment building. 

Go-go bounce beat band TOB performed on a flatbed truck in front of a banner that read, “Wait a minute, Mr. Postman.” 

Days later, when President Trump delivered his Republican National Convention acceptance speech on the White House’s South Lawn, TOB played at a “Drown Out Trump” demonstration just a few blocks away. Police would not let them get closer than Constitution Avenue NW, but TOB lead talker “Lil Chris” Proctor is certain that RNC attendees could hear the beat. “Bounce beat has really heavy percussion and drums,” he says. “We were playing real loud.”

And last week, when protestors paid an early morning “No Justice, No Sleep” visit to Sen. Mitch McConnell’s Capitol Hill house, the bounce beat group Critical Condition Band, known as CCB, played on a rented truck decorated with signs reading, “We are wide awake.”

More than a year after a series of musical protests led to a reversal of the decision to shut down the go-go played outside the Shaw business best known as the Metro PCS store, go-go’s signature percussion patterns have energized many of the Black Lives Matter and anti-Trump demonstrations here. 

“No question that go-go is the official protest sound,” says Justin “Yaddiya” Johnson, whose Long Live GoGo has organized most of the mobile musical protests, pairing most recently with several activist groups, including Sunrise DC and ShutDownDC. “The music is high energy and provocative, so it keeps the people engaged in the protest,” he adds. “We have changed the stigma of the energy of the music. There is no movement without the music.”

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