“The street is the locus of the linguistic-cultural activity known as Hip Hop. Hip Hop Culture not only began in the streets of Black America, but the streets continue to be a driving force in contemporary Hip Hop Culture.” --- H. Samy Alim, Roc the Mic Right.

Streetdance is a term used to describe popular black vernacular dances, dance forms and practices. The word street also provides a meaningful reference word that describes the locus and/or community space where the shared ideological, social and discursive structures in both Hip Hop music and dance are organized. It’s in this community space where a constant current of individual and collective expression circulates. It is in this current that the flow persists and resists. 8. Build/Destroy.

In contrast, a dance studio, for example, provides an architectural confine wherein professional, amateur and recreational dancers (everyday people as well) follow and help maintain a different hierarchical structure than that of these everyday folk in everyday spaces and/or Streetdance communities. Subsequently, many Streetdancers find the studio confining because this architectural construction is an environment where the structured hierarchical ideologies are cemented into its foundation and the ghosts of these thought forms linger between the walls. The studio environment is perceived to be space to implement previously learned movement material that rarely, if ever, provide fertile ground for the type of cultural production that develops in the Streets.

The Streets, full of corrugated spaces, are watching, listening and storing the real and fantastic, tragic and triumphant social markings of its inhabitants. In the now, I’m curiously exploring how the ‘social’ in black social/vernacular/street dance functions in cyberspace. Additionally, it’s interesting to track if and/or how the cultural modes of discourse that Streetdancers demonstrate in ‘real’ environments are or are not transferred via video sharing. For example:

The above video got so much goin’ on in it. First of all, this social dance practice is happening in the streets, the neighborHood, ‘round the way. These cats are straight improv-sensationally exchanging a shared vocabulary of movement. This exchange is staged in the community for the community reps present. Simultaneously, this seemingly capricious event is recorded and then posted in an effort to share what was produced, in that moment, with an exponentially larger on-line community. So, now having created some shelf space in The People’s Archive, everyone that was physically there can re-view, and possibly re-live this moment in dance; while, simultaneously the dancers, the cipha participants and their hood, for that matter, are a simple search’n’click away for getting’ some shine.

Finally, there are several elements of show’n’prove operating in this clip. The total experience illustrates how the dancers, in particular, and the folk from this particular spot on the map get down. The multiple layers of call and response are ridiculous. The cipha/circle is composed of people functioning as an interactive audience; 360˚ of support not for an individual but for an experience created and captured in real time. The social inter-action is demonstrated through shouts and call-outs (“where you at”) that beckon individuals to enter the cipha for battle; whoops, ohs! and ahhs! functioning like audible exclamations punctuating a move, a combo or even a mis-hap; hand-claps and chanted lyrics, chok full of references to contemporary and old school popular songs (brrrrrrrrl stick’em! ha, ha, ha stick’em!) supply a musical/rhythmic soundtrack for the moment; and, if you listen/watch close, there’s plenty of oral and corporeal clownin’ and signifyin’ going on. Finally, in this cipha, each dancer maintains focus toward the gaze of the camera, and the shot is positioned in a way that places a YouTube viewer as seemingly part of the circle.

So, the question is: How is this type of event re-produced by a group of people unfamiliar with the particular cultural modes of discourse in operation here? Sure, the moves, dances, sounds, words, etc. can be duplicated and/or imitated, but what about the meaning? If you’ve participated in a cipha like that and you witness/experience a dance cipha that man-u-fractured and devoid of vital cultural nuances; how can you not grapple with notions of authenticity and/or realness? How do we de-scribe how imitators and/or appropriators in-scribe new/no meaning using the same text? I’m wondering how we can begin to measure the electrical charge of a moment when all the pre-scribed elements are at play. With Crank Dat Soulja Boy in mind, YouTube offers a wealth of material that allows us to follow the transfiguration of Soulja Boy’s body of choreographic work.