The Go-Go Museum & Café provides a foundational introduction to Go-Go music and culture from its headquarters in the historic Anacostia section of Washington, D.C. Go-Go music is a brand of funk, R&B, hip-hop and Afro-Latin rhythms created in the 1970s by “Godfather of Go-Go” Chuck Brown and his Washington D.C. fans.
Our mission is to document, preserve and create this vital art form whose polyrhythms have roots in West Africa. Just as brass bands are to New Orleans, or country music is to Nashville, Go-Go music is DC’s own soundtrack. On February 19th 2020, Mayor Muriel Bowser signed a law naming Go-Go the Official Music of Washington, D.C.
The Go-Go Museum & Café is bringing this legislation to life by hosting live music and physical exhibits at our location in Southeast Washington, as well as mobile exhibits and performances online and off-site. The Go-Go Museum & Café stays true to the call-and-response nature of go-go with innovative cultural activations that engage longtime DC residents, newcomers, and tourists alike.
The Go-Go Museum & Café is the culmination of decades of advocacy among a coalition of musicians, scholars and organizers who have fought to keep DC’s indigenous music alive. On January 6, 2020, cultural activist Ronald “Moe” Moten put out an official call for funding to make this museum a reality.
Hundreds of supporters responded by contributing to an online crowdfunding campaign. The local radio station WPGC 95.5 hosted a 12-hour Go-Go Radio-Thon at the Central Communications/Metro PCS store that was the center of the Don’t Mute DC movement that drew international headlines in 2019 when Go-Go music was briefly silenced in DC’s Shaw neighborhood. Many more museum supporters pulled over from cars, on Metro and on foot to donate crumpled $1 and $5 bills to raise a total of $17,363. While short of the modest goal of $25,000 for the museum’s first phase, the hundreds of donations, large and small, inspired museum organizers to keep pushing.
Despite COVID-19, construction delays and other fundraising challenges, the museum is opening virtually on June 3, 2020, with its first history program. The first event will feature a live lunchtime conversation with writer Ta-Nehisi Coates, author of the first Oral History of Go-Go in 2000 and Go-Go Live author Natalie Hopkinson, and a performance by the First Ladies of Go-Go live from the museum’s Secret Garden stage.
Organizers continue to raise money for programming and to complete construction on the next modest phase: a café to provide hospitality for museum visitors with a custom-made menu that incorporates DC culinary favorites from Mumbo Sauce to Maryland crab. Please support by clicking HERE. You can also supporting us by order official “Go-Go Museum & Café” masks, T-shirts and other merchandise produced by our partners, Check It Enterprises.
An artifact from the Go-Go Museum & Café archive.
The definition of go-go according to the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates.
January 2000 in the Washington City Paper.