Teach the Beat!

Bringing the distinctive D.C. sound of go-go into the classroom.

Teaching for Change is honored to work with D.C.  area schools and the authors of The Beat! Go-Go Music from Washington, D.C. to develop lessons and share teaching ideas for infusing the history and music of go-go in middle and high school social studies, language arts, math, music, and/or D.C. history classes, and to bring renowned go-go performers into D.C. classrooms.

"Go-go has stayed true to time-honored cultural scripts such as live call-and-response, live instrumentation, as well as its locally rooted fashions, slang, dance, distribution and economic systems. Simply put: Go-Go never sold out. There is a grit and texture to the music that gives voice to the communities where it was created." –Natalie Hopkinson




Books and articles

The Beat: Go-Go Music from Washington, DC
by Kip Lornell and Charles Stephenson, Jr.
University Press of Mississippi, 2009.

The first book on Go-Go, The Beat set the stage for how we understand Go-Go. The Beat was originally published by Billboard Music in 2001. 

Read excerpts >>

Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City 
by Natalie Hopkinson 
Duke University Press, 2012. 

Go-Go Live explores the place of go-go within the development of Washington, D.C. since the 1970s.  It is an important reference for teachers who are unfamiliar with go-go and for teachers who are seeking content on how go-go is part of a larger and international history of black music and culture.  The book contains photographs and extensive excerpts from oral histories Hopkinson conducted.

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Go-Go Forever: The Rise, Fall, and Afterlife of Washington, D.C.'s Ultimate Rhythm by Ericka Blount Danois
MTV News,  June  14, 2017

In Washington, D.C.'s 1980s go-go scene, The Black Hole was what CBGB was to punk rock, what The Paradise Garage was to dance music. You couldn't call yourself a true go-go head if you'd never stepped past its hefty bodyguards after wading through the mass of bodies stretching down Georgia Avenue whenever a show was happening. It was a hole in the wall, really — a former car garage that regularly packed in excess of 400 sweaty teenagers. And it was our spot to hear uncut go-go, dance all night, and be seen.

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SpeakeasyDC's Crank & Groove: A Go Go Love Story, an original combination of true stories, live music, and dance about one of Washington, DC's finest and most distinct cultural legacies - go go music. Performed in September 2013 at the Atlas Performing Arts Center in Washington, DC and partially funded by the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Performances by Be'la Dona, Da Originalz, Patrick Washington, Nina Mercer, Christylez Bacon, Natalie Hopkinson, and Kato Hammond. Directed by Jess Solomon and produced by SpeakeasyDC Director, Amy Saidman. 

Keeping Go-Go Going in a Gentrifying D.C. chronicles how go-go legends like Anwan “Big G” Glover of Backyard Band, strive to attract a new generation of fans which includes new residents of the city. Keeping the history of the music alive while combating negative stereotypes are at the core of the effort. The episode includes interviews with Glover and Backyard Band members, Buggy, Sauce, Los, and Weensey. Length: 5:42. Aired: Nov. 28, 2015. Produced by The Atlantic.

Copyright  2013 The Beat. All Rights Reserved.

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the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities.

Image credits: Thomas Sayers Ellis