Students turn cafeteria into Go-Go music hall

Students beat their feet to the rumbling sounds of Go-Go music yesterday at Duke Ellington School of the Arts as their cafeteria transformed into a music hall.

Duke Ellington became one of the only high schools in the District to house a “Moechella,” a peaceful rally in support of Go-Go. The name “Moechella” is a fusion of “moe,” popular Washington, D.C., slang for a friend, and the annual music and arts festival “Coachella” and has become a staple of the #DontMuteDC movement.

Located in Northwest Washington, D.C., Duke Ellington is no stranger to stardom having educated notable alumni like comedian Dave Chappelle, singer Johnny Gill and actors Corey Hawkins and Lamman Rucker.

Along with the celebration of culture, students and staff were celebrating Councilmember Kenyan R. McDuffie’s newly introduced legislation to make Go-Go the official music of Washington, D.C., just six days before the school’s mini Moechella. This legislation was announced in response to an incident involving a resident of a Shaw apartment complex and the MetroPCS on the corner of Georgia and Florida Avenues back in April. Since the incident, residents have peacefully rallied in protests known as “Moechella,” in various locations around the city.

In addition to McDuffie, the mini Moechella at Duke Ellington included Council Member Robert White, Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner Troy D. Prestwood and a performance from Go-Go band TOB.

“It is the sound of the nation’s capital,” McDuffie says. “This goes well beyond Go-Go. … It’s about the historic levels of social and economic anxiety people are feeling about the District of Columbia — whether we’re losing our culture here in the District of Columbia.”

McDuffie explains that his bill regarding making Go-Go the official music of the District of Columbia is bigger than the music and is about preserving racial and economic equity for D.C. residents through preserving their culture.

Go-Go dancers DeAngelo “Delow” Garvin and Dashawn “Day Day” Dobbs. Photo by Alexandra Banks

The event also featured Dream Coalition Go-Go dancers Dashawn “Day Day” Dobbs and DeAngelo “Delow” Garvin who are known for the popular dance of the District known as “Beating Your Feet.”

“What is D.C. without Go-Go?” Dobbs asks. “It’s like taking the mumbo sauce from the carryout,” He feels passionate about the Go-Go culture, having grown up dancing to the music. He believes D.C. and Go-Go cannot be separated.

Garvin cites dancing as his way of giving back and trying to stop the violence within his community. He feels that without Go-Go there is no place for him and other dancers to express themselves and make a change in their community.

The event was part of the Long Live Go-Go movement, founded by host and hip-hop artist Justin Johnson known as Yaddiya (@Yaddiya).

Artist and Activist Yaddiya pictured in front of student artwork. Photo by Alexandra Banks

“I feel like Go-Go was already the official music,” Yaddiya said. “That’s long overdue.” He believes that legislation is only the beginning of the work that needs to be done to unmute D.C. and preserve the Go-Go culture of his native city.
“No one will ever mute D.C.,” he adds.  “That’s impossible.”

Yaddiya says Go-Go is a crucial part of his life and upbringing even citing Go-Go as a “brotherhood” that unifies those involved. He feels that if new residents were to give the culture a chance and try to understand the history behind Go-Go, they would love it, too.

The mini Moechella not only celebrated the culture of Go-Go but aimed to keep alive a central aspect of the lives of many native D.C. residents. Students were able to see just how important it is to natives such as politicians McDuffie, White and Prestwood while dancing and celebrating their culture among their peers, teachers and local officials.

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