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The (Not So?) Lost Art of the Old School (Black) Dance

May 14, 2009

I fear that in 20 years, when I have kids, they will not know how to dance, at least not in proper fashion. Instead, all of our children will be dancing like this:

—–

Now, depending on where you’re from, everyone between the ages of 9-21 that I know is pretty much prone to grind, dub, or freak depending on where they’re from. In fact, most of us born between the years 1984-1993 most likely grew up on a lot of popular music that involved just moving your body from side to side, making a bitch crawl from a window to a wall, or just plain supersoaking them with skeet. Still, it’s not so much the oft-alleged prurient immorality of the dance style that often accompanies such music that I take issue with. After all, much of Afro/Latin dance traditions involve close contact, gyration, undulation, booty shaking, etc. It’s just what we do.

Still, my concern lies more in the fact that when I think about the dances that I, as an increasingly grown ass man want to do, I find myself wanting to distance myself from gluteal-crotch contact and do something a bit more sophisticated. All I feel like I know how to do, however, are variations of two-steps, cabbage patches, stanky legs, etc.

Then I remembered “hand dancing,” (apparently the D.C. name for it) something I’ve been wanting to be able to do since I saw one of my exes’s parents do way back in the day at some family gathering. My mom being a Bronx-D.C. transplant acted like she didn’t know what it was. Still, I’m pretty sure it’s just an old school style of dancing, something like stepping and possibly also known as “shag dancing?”

Whatever it is, old folks know how to do it and how to do it well. I started googling stuff after seeing my aunt and uncle do a little in this wedding video I’m still cutting for them (something I’ve unfortunately put off doing for a while now…smh). Even before my uncle gets to really going around 4-5 seconds, you can see him working in a bit of that old school niceness here in this 8 sec rough clip:

From there, I started youtubing some stuff and started trying it out–hence the shoes:


playing “Back Together Again” by Donny Hathaway and Robert Flack in my room.

Complex shit.

Then, I remember having seen my girl Elle Varner (the gurl can sang)

break it out crazily at my man Nyle’s house party this past summer. She made me jealous. All that to say…I think I should learn this stuff so I’m not looking like a fool in the future, so that I can look cool as an old man, and so I’m not supersoaking my wife at my wedding, my kids, at family reunions, etc.

I need to find a dance place in BK. Another thing on my neverending list of things to do.

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