And Through It All…Still We Dance!

“Make ‘em say go LL and do the Wop!” – LL Cool J

As I think back, the Wop was probably the last dance

mentioned in a rap song that I tried to do. Did I say try?  Who am I kidding?  I mastered the Wop.  I did it with both of my hands or either

just one.  After reading that line

aloud, I must admit that it doesn’t sound particularly cool, but trust me; I’m

just talking about doing the Wop. 

This was during a time in close proximity to Sugar Bear and his crew

encouraging the world to do Da Butt. 

That was a dance when people purposely bent over and gyrated their hind

parts to an infectious tune. 

Needless to say, I didn’t try that one at all.  There are just some things that men, of any age, should not

be doing publicly or in the private of their own home.  And I’m proclaiming Da Butt to be

one.  Now I know that Sugar Bear

said, “ain’t nothing wrong if you wanna do Da Butt all night long.”  But clearly, if you were a male and had

the audacity to adorn the attire (spandex biker shorts) that went along with the dance, I

will not say “what was wrong,” but obviously something was.

In the midst of struggle, we danced.  We’ve always used dance as a means to

express and communicate ourselves to others.  Sometimes it seems that when trying times become even more

difficult, we dance harder. 

There’s a club song played in Baltimore clubs that encourages the party

goers to “dance the pain away.”  I

wish it was that easy, but nevertheless, we dance as if it is.

Nowadays many of our youth are attacked in Hip-Hop for

making “dance” songs.  I won’t

participate in this bashing of youth culture and I don’t get offended by the

“dance” songs they produce because I recognize that I’m not part of the

demographic in Hip-Hop that their music is targeting.  Participating in or attempting to do the dances the youth of

today rap about, would be the equivalent of my father doing the Wop back in the

eighties.  He would have lost all

of his cool points.  Now be honest,

did Soulja Boy expect people twenty-five and older to be doing the “Soulja

Boy”?  What in the hell would I

look like doing something that consist of me leaning forward on the tip of my

toes with my arms stretched outward to my sides as if I was flying and saying

“yew”?  The Bay Area kids are

jerking, which I think is cool, for them and their targeted demographic.  Besides the fact that I’m too old and

mature to be jerking, I tore my knee ligament years ago.  So, I couldn’t jerk even if I wanted

to, I don’t have the same motion and flexibility that I used to have.  Which brings me to this; the Southern

kids are “flexing.”  When I viewed

the video Flex by Party Boyz on 106 & Park, I was entertained as well as

amused (Damn, I wish I had as much confidence as that shirtless skinny

dude).  Immediately I recognized

that they were not talking to me. 

First and foremost, besides my age, my stomach is too big to be flexing.  As a matter of fact, I don’t have

nothing at all to flex, nothing. 

Now, none of the Party Boyz said that you had to be fit or tone to do

their dance, but personally I just associate the word “flex” with muscles.  So, more than likely, I will never be

hitting somebody with the flex so she could be begging for some more.

Back in the nineties, Petey Pablo encouraged anyone in the

party who wanted to participate to, “take your shirt off, twist it round ya

head, swing it like a helicopter.” 

Though this wasn’t a dance at all, the act itself was incorporated into

many dances during the time.  I

never did that either (I didn’t want anyone laughing at me when I took my

shirt off, for obvious reasons), but many people did.  In particular I recall eleven years

ago, at my bachelor party (a house party with the amenities of a bachelor

party), a friend of mine got swooped up in all the excitement and festivities

and began to get his Petey Pablo on. 

But that’s a whole different story that I refuse to divulge on this

site, especially since my wife read my editorials.  Probably one of the most popular dances ever mentioned in a

rap song or featured in a rap video was provided for us by them Harlem Bad

Boys.  Remember nine years ago when

G Dep, Black Rob, and Diddy had that joint Let’s Get It?  The video featured one very cool little

girl doing the Harlem Shake, which

my man Yaniz from Harlem told me is actually called the Al

B.  That was a cool looking dance,

but again, not for me.  Nor was the

Stinky Leg, Chicken Noodle Soup, Walk It Out, or countless other songs that the

youth rap about or incorporate into songs.  I’m a grown ass man!

The youth promote dances through songs and many in the

community get mad, but we’ve always done it.  Now, we attack them for not being lyrical and thought

provoking, simply because the music and its content isn’t as diversified as

we’d like for it to be and oftentimes, we feel that the older demographic is

not catered to in Hip-Hop. 

Prompting many of us, the first generation introduced to the music as

children, to abandon the music as adults. 

We dismiss the youth efforts completely, which makes them feel slighted,

some even suggest that we’re hating, and that prevents us from using the

present day most effective medium to engage our youth, Hip-Hop.  Well, I’d like to suggest that we be

reminded that we were once young and a part of the same culture.  And admittedly, we did many of the same

things.  If you think about it, I’m

certain that we’d acknowledge that those who were ten plus years older than us

then treated us the same way by attempting to dismiss what we were doing.  They were just as wrong then as many of

us are now.  Granted, we have a lot

of issues that could, should and need to be addressed through our music, but

maybe, just maybe, we’re attempting to put the burden of responsibility on the

shoulders of the wrong people.

This thing of ours, this rap music is a beautiful tool.  We can do whatever we want with

it.  With the music, we can teach,

we can learn, we can provide humor, we can influence, we can promote change, we

can provoke thought, we can be braggadocios if we’re feeling ourselves, we can

provide jobs, we can be socially conscious, we can empowering and uplifting, we

can be either responsible or irresponsible to our community, all while dancing.

I’m not mad that our kids dance and promote dances in their

music.  I attended house parties

back in the day, with my mug broke, standing in a B-Boy stance, and really

thought I was partying, until I was introduced to the bump and grind, Wop and

Cabbage Patch, Fila and Pee Wee Herman. 

After the initial introduction, partying and the social aspect of the

music, changed for me dramatically, but it didn’t prevent me from learning or

feeling a sense of responsibility to my community.   Dancing is what we do in addition to everything else

that we’re supposed to be doing. 

What would anger me, is if dancing was all we did.

 

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