What’s implied when someone claims to be a ‘street dancer’, or claims to ‘do’ street dance? For many this declaration is intended to indicate more than the preferred practice and/or performance space of street dance styles and forms. To assert that you are a street dancer, breaker, B-girl, B-boy, popper, locker, etc. means that you are intentionally ascertaining that your approach, style, flavor, vocabulary, training style, technical development and implementation draw from the streets. It means that you over-stand how to make use of, adapt to and transform space; public space, private space, secular space, sacred space, hallways, garages, street corners, alleyways, basketball courts, aerobic studios, hotel rooms, ballrooms and conference suites, driveways, and the list continues. It means that you’re listening, finger on the pulse, ear to the street. Listening to those folk around you, those folk in your personal cipher and the haters. Listening to the music that bleeds from your surrounding environment, your heart beat, soul and what’s comin’ out them speakers. You are listening with an enhanced ability to notice, I MEAN, feel change.

“Might snap my fingers.
              Might clap my hands.
                               Don’t get it twisted, Pimpin, this a hood dance.”
                                                                                                            ---- Sean Paul of the Youngbloodz

It means that depending on where you comin’ from you know what it means to ‘jit’, ‘juke’, ‘buck’, ‘percolate’, ‘sponge bob’, ‘get buck’, ‘get jiggy with it’, ‘crank dat’, ‘c-walk’, ‘poole palace’, ‘mono’, ‘chicken head’, ‘chicken noodle soup’, ‘lite feet’, ‘5000’, ‘wu tang’, ‘gangsta walk’, ‘harlem shake’, ‘wacky dip’, ‘tek weh yurself’, ‘beat ya feet’, ‘jook’, ‘heel toe’, ‘rack daddy’, and you know there’s thousands more yet to be “discovered.” It means that you do the damn thing at school, your cousin’s house party, the park, family reunion, in front of the bodega, front driveway, in your room, the kitchen (on the nice and slippery vinyl floor), backyard bar-b-q, community center, skating rink, aisle 7 at Piggly Wiggly, and countless other locations. Furthermore, in doing so, it means you reppin’ yo’ hood/crew/peoples/community/ancestors (known and unknown/acknowledged and un-acknowledged). Ashe! AND, in ‘doing so’ the invisible lifeline that connects you, the dancer, to a core cultural center becomes visible (to the observer) through the dance and experienced by, you, the dancer. Listening. Calling. Responding. Knowing. Experiencing. Questing & questioning: Where you comin’ from? So What’choo Sayin’? And, “How you sayin’ it?

It means that you, most likely, know beyond your ability to verbally articulate why this shit (insert your favorite dance) is so relevant. Why it is relevant to your person(a), your peoples, your hood, and the moment. Why folks over there just don’t get it. Why you lament when it goes mainstream, and why you get irritated by folks that do the dance (use the body language/vocabulary) and have no idea what they’re saying, and, flippantly don’t care. It is why folks that ‘do the dance’ to the wrong song, the wrong way, with the wrong groove, and/or at the wrong time, irritate you. You, of course, are simply asking for a little cultural sensitivity. You are simply offering a bit of ancient hood wisdom captured in one pronouncement: Get in where you fit in. I mean if a meaningful conversation is to be had we have to know more than the vocab. Word? Word!