About Go-Go Live

Go-Go Live: The Musical Life & Death of a Chocolate City by Natalie Hopkinson explores the past, present and future of Black Washington, D.C., via its signature sound, go-go. This project began as a series of articles published in the Washington Post’s Style section. It evolved into a PhD dissertation at the University of Maryland-College Park, and is now a book of photos and essays published by Duke University Press.

Go-go is a very local musical form of black popular music influenced by funk, salsa, the blues, reggae, and hip-hop. But through the frame of the author’s Caribbean identity, the book explores the music’s uncanny links to the black experience around the world. It is amazing how American political and economic systems, as well as the local geography and urban history are all mapped on to the music. It looks at the local fashion lines, the dance movements the ever-shifting constellation of record stores and venues, the fading spaces in Washington D.C. as Chocolate City fades to black and the new life the music is finding in the far-flung suburbs. Go-go music is the perfect metaphor for the life and death of Chocolate Cities all over the United States.

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"Natalie Hopkinson's Go-Go Live: The Musical Life and Death of a Chocolate City demonstrates the essential connections between culture and community in an American city. For generations now, go-go music in Washington D.C. has not only given the authentic, non-federal parts of that city its musical milestones, but it has - in the voice of so many great lead talkers - marked the civic and political time. From Chuck Brown forward, go-go has proven resilient and real. They say you can't understand this music unless you are there in the club, in the moment, but this book comes close."

-David Simon,writer and producer of The Wire and Treme

"Taking us into the little-studied terrain of go-go, the cousin of hip-hop born and bred in Washington, D.C., Natalie Hopkinson reveals go-go as a lens for seeing, in stark colors, how the economy, politics, and especially the drug trade have traduced black communities around the world."

-Henry Louis Gates, Jr.,Alphonse Fletcher University Professor, Harvard University

"Go-Go Live is a terrific and important piece of work. Music, race, and the city are three key pivot points of our society, and Natalie Hopkinson pulls them together in a unique and powerful way. I have long adored Washington, D.C.'s go-go music. This book helped me understand the history of the city and the ways that it reflects the whole experience of race and culture in our society. It puts music front and center in the analysis of our urban experience, something which has been too long in coming."

-Richard Florida,author of The Rise of the Creative Class and director of the Martin Prosperity Institute at the Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto
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