Best Friend of the Go-Go-Averse

Karen Toles
While the title of the D.C. area’s least nightlife-friendly politician is typically (soon to be former) Ward 1 Councilmember Jim Graham’s to lose, Prince George’s County Councilwoman Karen Toles is giving him a good run these days. Toles introduced the county’s 2011 Dance Hall Law CB-18, which requires businesses that allow dancing to acquire a dance-hall permit. Critics, including members of the go-go community, say the law is arbitrarily enforced and the licensing process intentionally onerous and lengthy, making compliance nearly impossible. The legislation is two years old, and many say it has increasingly been used to shut out go-go, or any musical acts or venues that the county deems undesirable. Toles has said the law doesn’t target go-go and has reduced violence in the county; go-go musicians, and other concerned folks, disagree. They’ve mobilized and have, among other things, started a petition asking the county to amend the law to require issuance of the permit, or a written denial that includes compliance guidance, within 60 days.