Saturday, November 14, 2009

A brief but thoughtful exegesis of the most current African American dances, or at least those I witnessed on last evening, by Max Reddick

I didn’t get to post yesterday because I was helping prepare for a reception and celebration for my niece and nephew. My niece graduated from Cornell University School of Law and just recently passed the Florida Bar exam on her very first try. Go get’em girl! I almost can’t wait to go get into some trouble so I can test out her skills.

And in the spring my nephew graduated from the Florida Agricultural and Mechanical University (FAMU) with a doctorate in physical therapy and, and that ain’t easy when you have women literally hanging all over you. Also, he just passed his state board exams, so he is a certified practitioner now.

Big ups to the next generation!

But this post is about dancing. Last night, after the obligatory slide show and all the speeches and toasts, the party really got started. Some colorful character with the moniker Chilly Chill of the Playtime DJ’s did a remarkable job getting the crowd all hyped up and on the dance floor. However, there are some questions I must ask.

Now, I don’t get out to parties much. I would much rather prefer to sit at home and read and write. But I can’t believe how much I seem to have missed. I really wanted to get out there and dance and kick my heels up, but I didn’t know any of the dances. So, I was relegated to sitting there in my seat like Sir Nose Devoidofunk—I will not dance!—while others enjoyed themselves.
But the first question I must ask is how does everyone know every step to every line dance but me? Is there some kind of Negro National Newsletter that goes out outlining the steps to the Cupid Shuffle?

And next, when did people stop dancing together? When I was young we danced in pairs, but now everyone seems to just charge the dance floor and dance by themselves or one person dances while everyone watches. Can’t quite figure out how that works now.

However, while I sat on the sidelines sipping scotch and looking on, I had time to analyze the most current African American dance moves or at least those I witnessed on last night.

1. Wu-Tang wit’ It

I was sitting there when all the young people suddenly ran toward the dance floor. Once there they immediately began to thrash about as their heads bobbed vigorously up and down in a whiplash inducing manner. Immediately I thought, “I knew that prime rib tasted funny. It must have affected the children first because of their weak immune systems!” But then my daughter informed me that they were simply “Wu-Tanging wit it.”

So, of course, I had to ask her what “it” was. Were they Wu-Tanging wit food poisoning? Epilepsy? The palsy? She then informed me that “it” was just “it.” I will be better able to deconstruct this dance once I find out just what “it” is; however, I believe “it” to be very bad indeed if it causes one to move in the manner I witnessed.

And just a word to the youth: Wu-Tanging wit’ It in a cocktail dress ain’t classy.

2. The Stanky Leg

Okay, I get the central premise of this dance. One leg is so vilely malodorous that it must be extended away from the body so as not to offend the other leg. But what I don’t get is why, once the leg is extended, one would then move it about so vigorously. Would not all that moving of the leg cause the leg to sweat thereby causing the offending odor to intensify? And by moving it about, would that not cause the offending odor to be diffused over a wider area?

In short, by increasing the very intensity of the odor and then diffusing it over a even wider area, you defeat the purpose of ever having set the leg apart in the first place. I tend to believe that whoever conceived of this dance did not think the requisite time and effort to reason the whole thing through.

3. The Booty Hop

I apologize, but I cannot even find a video of this dance being performed that is tame enough to display on this blog. The animated GIF I found is bad enough, but it appears that in order to do the booty hop correctly, one must fully expose their booty.

But anyway, last night I was sitting at a table speaking with three professional women who are very well respected in their fields. Suddenly in the middle of the conversation, one of them loudly announced, “I’m going to go do the booty hop!”, and ran to the dance floor. And then the other two looked at each other, and they too fled to the dance floor. This morning two of the three women are complaining of lower back pain, so I will endeavor to diagnose their problem.

The mass of one’s behind usually increases in direct proportion to the increase in age. And then when one squats, extends that massive behind out, and then makes it move rapidly and unnaturally in an up and down motion, especially when that massive behind is accustomed to sitting behind a desk all day, it results in the muscles of the lower back stretching and the spinal vertebrae being forced out of line.

Not only does one who is not professionally trained and supervised risk injury by attempting this dance, but if all that behind begins to move in one direction, you risk the forces of inertia taking over thereby causing a loss of control, and who could even imagine the potential danger of a massive, out of control behind plowing into a crowd of people.

4. Look Back at It

Again, I apologize, but I could not find a suitable video to demonstrate this dance. Is there a YouTube rating system for videos? I cannot even count the number of bare bottoms in thong panty drawers and too short shorts I had to view in searching for a video.

Anyway, when the crowd began doing this dance, it kind of caught me unawares. I was standing on the edge of the dance floor, and one minute everyone’s back was to me, and then suddenly it appeared that they were all looking over their shoulders at me. So, alarmed, I looked over my shoulder to see if someone was standing behind me. And when I turned around everyone was now looking behind them and moving their behinds in a suggestive manner.

This really threw me off. However, my son explained to me that it was not about me at all, but it was just the “Look Back at It” dance. And this time I fully understand what it really is.
The dance seems to be simply “The Booty Hop” except now the dancer looks back over his or her shoulder at their behind as it moves rapidly in an up and down manner. However, I have yet to determine why.

But for the purposes of this brief exegesis, I attempted the “Look Back at It” dance and found that by adding the element of looking back and making and maintaining eye contact with your backside, the complexity of this dance increases exponentially.

Again, if you are of a certain age and your behind is of a certain volume and mass, it is recommended that you not attempt this dance.

5. Cupid Shuffle, Obama Shuffle, ChaCha Slide, Electric Slide, and the various species of other shuffles and/or slides

Is it just me, or are all of these the same dance but with different names and music. And I do not mention this out of bitterness at being asked to leave the dance floor after bumping into several people and stepping on several feet because I did not know the steps and ended up going in the wrong direction. I am perhaps a little embarrassed, but I am not bitter.

And to that little old lady with all the mouth, I can follow directions, thank you, but the directions were not all that clear. “To the left, to the left, to the left…,” shouted several times in rapid succession could mean anything. To the left what?

But I do believe it is time that we as a people quit allowing ourselves to be fooled in this manner. The powers that be simply change the name and publish new music to correspond with that new name, and we then rush out to spend money on the twelve inch single to play at our next party, bar-b-q, or family reunion. They keep us spending money just to keep up with the latest dance trend. When are we going to wake up and shake off the chains of our economic oppression?


RainaHavock said...

Your niece needs to give me some advice because I'm trying to do Law school too. As for the dances...the only I've done is the cupid shuffle and I actually wanted to learn the "Wu-tang"**Blushes**. As for the other ones...I'll pass.

Anonymous said...

Max... even I know the cupid shuffle. I'm not saying anything about those other dances, whether I've performed them, or where... but I think it IRONIC that my "word verification" word is... TABLE.

Denisha said...

Your overly technical explanation for the lower back pains was funny!! I think I am now a good 2 or 3 yrs too old to be doing those new dances but now, when I watch the youngins, I think they look stupid although the dances back in the day made all the sense in the world to me. Congrats to your niece and nephew....just don't attend any parties :)

Max Reddick said...

But I want to know how to dance. I really do. I want to have fun at parties, but I have been cursed with a lack of rhythm. When I dance, people just stop and stare in wonderment. said...

Hi there Max,

I saw the two videos and I had to laugh because when I was younger, we had dances like "The Prep" and "The Worm" and "The Sperm" (don't ask)!!

I was out of college (I think!!) when "Da Butt" was very popular. Now I see that Buffie has made the "booty clap" famous.


Thanks for sharing these.

Now I know I am officially ole skool!!

Peace, blessings and DUNAMIS!

Max Reddick said...

Well, I can't laugh because "The Prep," "The Worm." and "The Sperm" were the last dances I can ever remember learning. I flirted with "The Running Man" but that dance was just too much work.

Kristen {RAGE against the MINIVAN} said...

Max, you write such thought-provoking pieces on race, parenting, etc, which makes me really enjoy this blog. But then your humor pieces are hysterical!

I must confess to also being too old to do any of these dances. I am still stuck in the days of the Tootsie Roll, Hammer Slide, and Running Man. Embarrassing. At weddings now, I tend to stick to the "step and tap" like we do at church.

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