the first beats drop. imagine the bass,  almost heavy enough to feel through my seat. the light comes up on a teenage boy – slightly less than preppy but a long cry from thugged out. the next beats flow out with a voice…’nigga what, nigga who”. and i cringe.

onto the floor – stage lights blazing – more little not quite preppy zed boys all posed and ready to tap their hearts out. and tap they did. but i was hung up on the first lines of the song for quite a bit of their perfomance. looking around to see if anyone was looking at me nodding knowingly, “there’s one right there,  our very own nigga.”

and i can’t tell you why it bothers me so much, or at least i couldn’t until tonight. tonight when another group of kids broke out their hip hop moves. clad in hoodies and bandanas and slightly baggy jeans. the cliched pose of crossed arms. and my mind raced…it was finally clear to me that hip hop dancing is…like jazz was…a new thing. not just some fad, not just some unimportant thing, but a true contribution to the art world.

and people can snicker…but it is true. when jazz first started folks snickered and said it wasn’t disciplined, it didn’t fit. but it fits now and no one would argue that it is art. the same is true for hip hop dancing (the jury is still out on the current state of hip hop itself as far as i’m concerend but i’ll leave that for another dasy).

it is an artful contribution. so why do i cringe when i see a bunch of kids removed from the us donning the hip hop “uniform” and dancing their hearts out. i don’t cringe when i see folks put on tights or a tutu for ballet, or formal wear for ballroom. i smile and clap and move on with my day. but see, there is a difference.

people look at hip hop as if it is a way of life. not only A way of life, but THE way of life for black people. so in that sense, hip hop dancing isn’t just some intersting moves and an unusual use of beat it is, supposedly, a black person’s intersting moves and unusual use of beat. my moves, my beats.

and with it, my baggy pants and wife beater t-shirt, my bandana and baseball capped tipped to the side. my bling.

but it isn’t. it isn’t. it is just a dance. a style of dance. nigga what…


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