Crank & Groove, Part II

    News and Information September 13th, 2013 By Amy Saidman

    I heard my first go go beat in 1996… at a Jewish summer camp. I’m not kidding. I was a counselor at a Jewish summer camp (Habonim homies – holla!) and, at this camp, we have a ritual after almost every meal. As the dishes are collected, everyone starts to sing. But we don’t just sing, we shout and stand on the chairs, pound on the tables, and stomp our feet. It’s a kind of organized mayhem. In this particular year, there were threespeakeasy gogo4x6 guys – Benjie Porecki, Doug Silverman, and Matt Selig – who would start pounding out a go go beat on the tables. When I first heard it, I was like, what is that? I didn’t know it at the time, but I had fallen in love with go go.

    Eve Cohen, my friend who actually grew up in DC (not fake-like “from DC” like me, who grew up in Gaithersburg), was my next go go ambassador. She introduced me to Chuck Brown and Trouble Funk (on cassette tape, of course) – both of whom I eventually saw live at the old 9:30 Club on 930 F street, NW. I remember blushing, as some guy grinded me from behind and Chuck talked (over the beat, Barry White-like) in detail — and for what seemed like forever — about each step of taking off a woman’s “panties”.  Though mildly flustered, I was undeterred because the room was alive and the go go beat kept the party going.

    It’s too-many-years-to-count later, and I am feeling so grateful and privileged to be putting on this show as part of SpeakeasyDC’s programming with the Atlas Performing Arts Center and the support of the DC Commission on the Arts & Humanities. Though I appreciate this music, I know that I am a total outsider. I have learned so much through this process about the colorful, creative, and vibrant world of go go, and about the artistry and skills of these musicians and composers. Now, I know a little about the pocket, the bounce beat, the Happy Feet and BeatYaFeet dances, and what it means to chop & screw (you will, too, if you come to the show).

    We could not have made this happen without my friend and co-conspirator, Jess Solomon, who, as the show’s director, has pulled together an amazing ensemble of talented artists and writers, and has reached out to the go go community. Her genuine admiration and respect for DC and for go go has been the key to creating a show that is authentic and properly honors this city, this music, and this history.

    I’m immensely affirmed that we’re on the right track when we hear the reactions of go go champions like Charles Stephenson, author of The Beat: Go Go Music from Washington, DC who wrote this note to Jess:

    I am so proud of what you are doing.  This is the kind of out-of-the-box production that is necessary to support go go.  Not only can you tell stories, but you can share other positive aspects of the music.  Looks like it will be a fun evening!I want you to know that it is my pleasure to be a resource, sounding board and whatever else for you.  I can’t wait to see the tape of the show.  I know it will be great!

    I am humbled and grateful that SpeakeasyDC has the opportunity to play a small part in DC’s go go legacy.

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