Twerk A Little

2013-05-15 13:29

Twerking. It is a dance style that originated in New Orleans, made its way to the Houston strip clubs and has now landed here in South Africa.

I had to chuckle when I read the Wikipedia definition: Twerking is a “dance move that involves a person shaking their hips and bottom in a bouncy up and down motion, causing it to shake, ‘wobble’ and ‘jiggle’.” It is such an academic take on something that has no place in the classroom. That was the lesson learned earlier this month by the 33 students of the San Diego High School who were suspended for posting a video online of their twerking to a song with explicit lyrics on school grounds.

On home soil, we now have the Pro Twerkers SA gracing the stages of Scoop and studios of Metro Fm at prime time. At this point I am sure you want to Google it. You are more than welcome to. I will continue on.

This dance style fascinates me for a few reasons. While I have great respect for the athleticism it takes to pull off some of those crazy moves, it does seem to add to the ‘pornification’ of culture, as La Times put it. In an era where porn stars such as Jenna Jameson have become household names, sitting pretty on Mama Oprah’s couch, when does it become too much? Is twerking too much?

Bear with me as I attempt to explain the other source of fascination without sounding too much like a Gender Studies student. It, in some contexts, adds to the arsenal of the sexually liberated female, armed with her latest Cosmo. This dance style looks to be following the same trajectory as pole-dancing, which marks its roots in a space where women’s bodies are objectified by the male-gaze. Now you can find pole-dancing studios throughout Cape Town. They are positioned as spaces wherein women can feel empowered by taking control of their sexuality and objectification away from the male-gaze, as well as getting a great workout.

I will admit I have tried my hand at it but only in the comfort of my apartment - with all doors, windows and curtains shut. I hid my twerking for the sake of all those innocent eyes that would be gouged out at the sight of me; embarrassment and objectification were just afterthoughts.

A trivial accomplishment this may be, but because of this little piece, when you search ‘twerk’ in News24 Voices search engine, no longer will you see “Apologies, but no results were found.” I dare say News24 Voices would become hip to the urban youth!

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