Pump Me Up: DC Subculture of the 1980s

March 14 2013 . 08:23pm

Pump Me Up: D.C. Subculture of the 1980s is the first exhibition to explore the thriving underground of Washington, D.C., during the 1980s, giving visual form to the raucous energy of graffiti, Go-Go music, and a world-renowned punk and hardcore scene.

The exhibition explores the visual culture of the “other D.C.,” demonstrating its place in the history of street art as well as that of America’s capital city. In the midst of notorious problems with drugs and corruption, D.C. gave birth to an infectious visual culture captured in the exhibition through posters, graffiti, graphic art, archival photographs, and ephemera. Pump Me Up tells a local history from a local point of view, while providing a framework for the contemporary surge of interest in street art and underground graphics.

Pump Me Up traces the history of graffiti in Washington while emphasizing its inextricable ties to the burgeoning forms of local music. The exhibition highlights the vibrant scene that sprang up around Go-Go, a local form of funk pioneered by Chuck Brown and others, including the stripped-down “Go-Go graffiti” style. Started by neighborhood “crews,” this style became a hallmark of the D.C. style of graffiti writing. Around the same time, an underground hardcore and punk scene sprang up in venues like the Wilson Center and the 9:30 Club.

Ephemera, photos, flyers, posters, records, newspaper clippings, stage clothes, instruments, video loops, and much more, all made largely between 1980 and 1992, will fill the Corcoran’s Atrium and Rotunda, bringing the era to life. The exhibition includes sections on graffiti writers (notably the work of COOL “DISCO” DAN), the D.C. punk, hardcore, and Go-Go scenes, concert posters made by the Baltimore-based Globe printing press, and visual culture from the drug wars.

Pump Me Up is curated by Roger Gastman, who began writing graffiti as a teenager in Bethesda, Maryland. Since then, he has founded and published the pop culture magazines While You Were Sleeping and Swindle, with Shepard Fairey, and authored a dozen graffiti art books including The History of American Graffiti (with Caleb Neelon; 2011). In 2011 he curated, with Jeffrey Deitch and Aaron Rose, the exhibition Art in the Streets at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles. Gastman’s film production credits include Banksy’s Exit through the Gift Shop and the graffiti documentary Wall Writers, and he is currently directing a documentary for Sanrio/Hello Kitty on the history of the brand and its fans.

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The Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan documentary

January 24 2013 . 10:40pm

This is the trailer for the documentary The Legend of Cool “Disco” Dan. Narrated by Henry Rollins. The world premiere will take place at 8pm on Saturday February 23, 2013 at the AFI Silver Theater located in Silver Spring Maryland.

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Cool “Disco” Dan and Oatmeal I.Q.

July 14 2009 . 12:24am

Find out more at: COOLDISCODAN,net

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January 17 2009 . 04:08pm

Cool "Disco" Dan

With DC gearing up for it’s biggest inauguration event in history Known
Gallery thought it would be fitting to drop a bit of true DC graffiti
history from it’s crazier years.


Cool “Disco” Dan is a Washington, D.C., legend, a symbol of survival of the
city’s most difficult years. It was a graffiti nickname, That started
popping up in 1984, written in marker and spray paint throughout Washington,
D.C., clear and legible, never fancy. Any resident of Washington, whether
young or old, stick-up kid or congressman, couldn’t help but be intrigued by
its omnipresence. Who was this Cool “Disco” Dan?

Cool “Disco” Dan is an anomaly: He lived in the crack-ridden Washington,
D.C., ghetto—yet he never took or sold drugs. Though his father was abusive
and died young, Dan was raised by a stable family, and only as a young adult
did he become homeless. He witnessed at short range the spiraling street
violence of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s that earned D.C. the dubious title
of America’s “Murder Capital."

By the early ‘90s, Cool “Disco” Dan was D.C.’s biggest underground celebrity
after painting his moniker all over the city until it seemed as though no
wall, rooftop or street sign had been forgotten. He wrote on every Metro
bus, and took his name to every neighborhood, crossing socio-economic
boundaries in a way that no other graffiti writer in the city had ever done.
He was obsessed with making a name for himself with graffiti street fame.

To learn more about "Cool "Disco" Dan and his upcoming documentary telling
the true story of Washington DC check out: www.cooldiscodan.com

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