Stop and Go-Go?

D.C. police keep tabs on go-go events

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Ra-Jah S. Kelly
    Go-go is a form of music based on funk, developed primarily by DC native Chuck Brown. Brown and his band The Soul Searchers began modifying the songs they were covering to include additional percussion often provided by the conga drums. Ron of NexXzit, a local go-go band, played at Unifest in 2009.

    The D.C. Metropolitan Police Department has put out the latest edition of its "go-go report," a list of upcoming shows in the homebred D.C. music genre. Washington City Paper, which has been tracking the story, has the list.

    Why is the police department playing concert promoter? MPD and other area police departments think go-go events are linked to violence, and so they spread the word -- in the District, Montgomery County and Prince George's County, as well as to at least one FBI e-mail address.

    City Paper says the regularly updated secret report comes from the MPD’s Intelligence Branch, "which is rumored to have 60 officers and a generous budget." But like those Russian spies who could’ve gotten their "intelligence" by doing a Google search, the newspaper points out that "there’s not much in the document that MPD couldn’t have found by perusing City Paper’s music listings."

    Police have been dispatched to go-go venues for years, which they say keeps down crime. But fans of go-go, as well as bands and venue owners, say fears of violence are just an excuse to hassle them. Ben Adda, who manages the go-go band TCB, told City Paper, "We [were] targeted for sure." After City Paper exposed the MPD report in mid-July, The Scene, a nightclub in Northeast D.C., banned TCB and one other go-go band, Polo and the Boyz.

    When asked about the go-go report by WAMU’s Kojo Nnamdi, MPD Chief Cathy Lanier chuckled at the allegations of secrecy, and said, "It’s a schedule of events. It’s like an entertainment calendar." Lanier said the report helped with "situational awareness," letting cops know what was going on, and when.

    D.C. police may not be fans of go-go, but Lanier’s boss is. "Go-Go 4 Fenty" events have been boosting Mayor Adrian Fenty’s bid for a second term, leading some to grumble that Fenty is just jumping on a bandwagon. But TCB manager Adda said he used to stop by go-go concerts early in his term, and that his love for go-go is real.

    Does the go-go community love Fenty in return? Well, when Fenty spoke at the funeral of go-go legend Anthony "Little Benny" Harley in June, the mayor "was booed so mercilessly that Pastor Deron Cloud had to admonish the people who gathered to pay their respects."

    And now, some dancing...


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