September 10: Ju Ju at Eastern High School
On September 10, William “Ju Ju” House visited the Human Geography class of teacher Kim Stalnaker at Eastern High School (DCPS). Ju Ju started off by showing the class photos and books of go-go artists and other famous musicians. He then moved on to playing video of hip-hop, followed by go-go, which got the students dancing in their seats. Ju Ju asked the students what differences they heard between the styles of music.
“Go-Go is different than a lot of other music. DC is one of the few spots where people play instruments,” said Ju Ju. He explained that there are two instruments that make go-go unique, the conga drums and the rototoms. “Everything comes from Africa as far as percussion,” Ju Ju said. “Brazilian music, everything. In other countries, they use one conga drum. In go-go, we decided to put four of them.”
Students asked Ju Ju about how he got started playing go-go, what playing was like when he was younger, why go-go developed in DC, how go-go has been marketed, whether bands formed at schools or in neighborhoods and how he feels about the new go-go bands playing today. One student asked about whether the bands really know all the people they call out in the crowds. “We used to have ‘roll call.’ You used to have to sign your name in this book when you came to the go-go and whoever had the most signatures didn’t have to pay.” Ju Ju then asked the students what they think could help go-go stay strong in DC.
The class ended with Ju Ju and the students playing go-go beats, singing, and dancing in their seats.