Arts Desk

“He Brought Joy to the City”: D.C. Toasts Chuck Brown at the Howard Theatre

It's 9:22 p.m., and the crowd is euphoric. At this point, the nostalgic partygoers have already danced themselves into a frenzy.

Then "Bustin' Loose," Chuck Brown's 1979 hit, explodes from the speakers in front of the Howard Theatre. The crowd sways and sings along, and a mini Soul Train line forms in front of the building.

That's until a glitch shut off the song for a couple seconds—much, much too long on this day.

"Awwwwww!" the crowd groans. The sounds quickly return; the party resumes. "This is what Chuck Brown brought," says Antonio The Cuban Cigar Smoker, the WKYS-FM personality. "He brought joy to the city."

On Wednesday, the go-go icon died at age 75. News of his passing rocked the nation's capital; storefronts and passing vehicles blasted Brown's music in remembrance of the D.C. legend. Mambo Sauce frontman Black Boo helped organize the impromptu block party at the Howard celebrating Brown's legacy. "It feels good to do something like this, but it's really for Chuck Brown," he says. "If it wasn't for him, we wouldn't have go-go."

Much to the crowd's dismay, the music ends before 10 p.m. (Patrons stayed long after that, though.) "One more song! One more song!" they chant. They get their wish.

It's the sendoff Chuck Brown would've wanted.

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