This post is dedicated to Ms. AA and Ms. OO
Living in Ghana, I have to conform to many practices, e.g. tardiness, and ways of thinking, you pretend to pay me and I’ll pretend to work. But there is one “truth” that I have a hard time accepting: white people can’t dance/only black people can dance.
Despite growing up on Digital Underground, New Edition, Run DMC, NWA; being conscious when 2Pac started his solo career and when Dr Dre introduced “The Chronic” album; watching my peers break-dance at fifth grade recess, I am always treated as if I just jumped on the hip hop bandwagon. Now I’ve never been daring enough to spin on my head, but I know I can hold my own on the dance floor. So, I find it mildly annoying that black people are “Shocked! shocked!” that I can dance. Unfortunately, some black people are blinded by race and say things like, “You dance off beat.” (Hahahahaha)
To dispel this myth, I’m going to break some things down. First, there are three types of people at the club: the fanatics, those who like to dance, and everybody else. The fanatics are the ones who make everyone look bad. If you watch movies like “Battle of the Year” or “Stomp the Yard“, then the Chris Brown character is the guy you should be keeping in mind. They probably frequent the clubs and watch music videos to find the latest “moves”. More importantly, they are the ones who invent their own moves.
Those who hit the clubs because they like to dance usually are mimicking what the fanatics are doing or what they’ve seen in the media. Dancing is about confidence. Most (non-black) people are a bit shy and think everyone is watching them. I’ve found that most black people don’t care what anyone else thinks. This makes it seem like they are superior dancers. But they aren’t. They just don’t care. The majority of black people fit in this middle group. In Ghana, it’s not uncommon to see black people burst into dance when they hear P-Square, Iyanya, or Keche booming from somewhere.
Check out this “oldie but goodie”,
Wonder Mike, the guy on the left, is not doing anything special. He’s shifting his weight from left to right, right to left. Sometimes he walks about while shifting his weight. Sometimes he claps his hands or waves his hands. Can you clap your hands while shifting your weight?
Hank, the guy on the right, seems to be better. Note that he isn’t doing too many coordinated actions. He’s either taking seemingly giant steps or standing in place. If it’s the latter, he can do whatever he wants with his upper body — to the beat — and seem like a lot is going on. He can shift side to side, thrust his shoulders quickly, or move his head forward and back.
My vote is Master G, in the middle, as the superior dancer. He doesn’t seem to care a bit what he’s doing: he raises his hands, uses dramatic hand/arms gestures, and just doing whatever he wants in the background.
Lastly, the rest of the black people have the same two left feet that they assume all white people do. They are the ones that let insecurity rule them. I hate to say it, most white people fit in this category.
I’m going to put forth a radical concept: Perhaps white people have a faster beat in their head than black people. If you go to a rave or clubs that play more house/electronica, e.g. DJ Tiesto, then there’s no way you can apply the beat from Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” to an electronica or house song. That’s why you always see white people jumping to this stuff. Jumping is faster than weight shifting. Perhaps white people can’t down shift from their music to the beat of R&B.
Third, you must separate the fact that “being black” is cool and “dancing is a black thing”. I think too many black people use this as a crutch to look down on everyone else. What’s funny is that the definition of black is fluid. For instance, in America, anyone who has any African ancestors is regarded as black. In Africa, anyone who has any European ancestors is regarded as white. At least in Africa, white people should claim Chris Brown as their own =) Ha, that’s proof that some white people can dance.
I hope people can be confident in their ability to move to the beat and dance. “Dance I say…”