Black Student Union Hosts First Post-Pandemic Go-Go Dance With Live Music and Other Schools

Photo by Olivia Brown ’24.

On Friday, March 3, GDS’ Black Student Union (BSU) hosted its first post-pandemic go-go dance that was open to other schools and featured a live band. The dance lasted from 8:30 to 11 p.m. and hosted five other D.C.-area schools: Sidwell, Maret, Bullis, Jackson-Reed and St. John’s.

Backyard Band, a widely known local go-go band that plays covers of popular songs, performed at the go-go. Leading up to the band’s performance beginning at 9:15 p.m., the BSU played pre-recorded popular songs. About 275 tickets were sold for this year’s go-go by the BSUs at GDS and other schools.

Last May, the go-go was only open to GDS students and had COVID precautions and a DJ instead of a live band. The last time GDS hosted a traditional go-go dance was in the spring of 2019.

BSU co-head senior Dionne Harris said she had heard stories about GDS’ previous go-gos when she started high school. “I heard that the go-gos and mixers were super fun,” she said “We kind of wanted to live up to that, if not better.”

Members of the BSU sold tickets in the Internet Cafe to GDS students throughout February. Harris said the initial plan was to have 300 tickets available to GDS students and 100 tickets available to students from other schools.

BSU co-head senior Drew Cowan attributed the difficulty of selling tickets to GDS students to a lack of interest from underclassmen. “A lot of freshmen and sophomores didn’t come because they didn’t really know what it was,” he said. Cowan added that students may have been disappointed by last year’s smaller-scale go-go.

Maret junior Mya Stuckey said she heard about the go-go through her school’s BSU. She said she grew up listening to go-go music but had never experienced it live. Stuckey added that she thought hosting a go-go band was a great way to educate D.C.-area students about D.C. history and culture.

Bullis freshman Carter Mitchell said he learned about the dance from Instagram and saw the go-go as a way to embrace his culture. “As an African American, I feel it’s a part of my history, and I like to be able to experience that.” Mitchell had never heard go-go music before and appreciated the opportunity to learn about and enjoy it.

Cowan said that the hardest part about organizing the go-go was rebuilding momentum that had been lost due to the pandemic. “We were really trying to rebuild from previous years, and that was the hardest part,” Cowan said.

When attendees arrived at the go-go, security guards scanned them with hand-held metal detectors. High School Director of Security Nick Prout said that the security measures were strict because some attendees were from outside the GDS community. “We don’t know what someone may bring into the school,” he said.

St. Albans sophomore Christian Weaver said he preferred the pre-recorded songs played between sets of live go-go music. “I enjoyed the music that the go-go was playing, too, but if it was a little bit less loud I would’ve probably liked it more,” he said.

Students began to leave during the band’s second set, and by the time the band had finished playing, few attendees remained on the dance floor. Killy expressed disappointment that at recent dances attendees had been leaving early. “A lot of students are putting a lot of time into organizing these things,” he said.

“I think we set the bar pretty high,” Harris said. She said she hoped that future BSUs would continue to raise that bar. Harris added that, going forward, she hoped that the BSU would invite more schools. Harris said that students from other schools contacted her through social media and asked why they were not invited.

Killy said the quality of each year’s go-go depends on the students who put it together. He hopes that next year’s BSU organizers “will be excited and put a lot of energy and organization into making it even bigger and better than this year.”

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