Ostara 2021 — Get You Some Go-Go

Let’s just tell it like it is. This winter was HARD. And we are all sick of this pandemic. And there’s a vaccine now — three of them actually. And while it’s been happening in fits and starts and very unevenly, it looks like we might actually get to the other side of this thing.

If there was ever a moment where everything seemed ready to bust loose, it’s now.

Ostara is really about that feeling. That moment when all of the beautiful green things, all the life that has been hibernating, that has been preparing, begins to burst forth and shout “Here I am!” After a long winter of social distancing, of waiting for a vaccine, of loss and privation and death, we’re all sensing it might be time soon to emerge from our homes, from behind our masks, and be out and about in the world.

And it’s not happening all at once either. For as many folks as have both shots of a vaccine, there are others who are struggling to get an appointment, or their state hasn’t reached their category of eligibility yet. There are people who are frustrated.

And as joyful as it is to think about, it’s scary. Will I really remember how to be around people again? Will people notice I have gained weight? WiIl they notice that my hair is a little grayer? Are the people I love going to be as changed by this experience as I have been? Will I ever feel safe again? Nothing is certain right now. And as much as we want things to go back to “normal” — deep down we know that that isn’t possible. Whatever “normal” used to be, it’s gone now. And given how much inequity and pain the pandemic has exposed, it’s probably not something we want back anyway.

When things start to bust loose, it doesn’t feel safe or organized. It’s chaotic, and while that’s exciting, it’s risky too.

I live in the environs of the District of Columbia. DC is my city. And when people who are really of the District start thinking about things busting loose, there’s really only one thing that comes to mind.

Chuck Brown and go-go music.

DC loves its go-go music so much that in 2019, when the gentrifiers in the Shaw neighborhood tried to stop a local cellphone store from playing go-go on the speakers that opened onto Florida Avenue , the streets packed with protestors that included Mayor Muriel Bowser. The parent company of the store, T-Mobile, had to back down. Last year, the Mayor made it the law of the land. Go-Go is the official music of the District of Columbia.

Invented in DC by Black and brown artists in the mid-1970’s, characterized by its funky, driving and distinct syncopated beat, go-go is the heartbeat of “real DC” — the DC that doesn’t have anything to do with the people who come and go in the Capitol and the White House. It’s the pulsing energy of the people who make music and art and start businesses and raise kids in this city. It is the music of people who won’t be kept down no matter what, and who do their thing no matter who’s in power.

My prescription for those who are feeling stuck and unsettled and maybe a little scared, who see things busting loose: GET YOUR ASS UP AND DANCE.

Lose yourself in some music with a popping beat. Music that your body can’t help but shake to. Music that embraces joy and life. Music that is irrepressible.

Here’s a little Chuck Brown (the Godfather of Go-Go) to get you going:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wwHi10qX8u8

Learn more about the history of go-go here. Also, support go-go’s legacy in DC by donating to the Go-Go Museum in DC and to the Funk Parade.

Blessed Ostara, y’all.

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