By: Daniel Otero
“This is the beat that makes you shake your rump! That makes your booty go ba-bump, ba-bump!” – Black Eyed Peas couldn’t have said it better on the dance floor.
There is a moment, that spirituality and soulful feeling in the dance and you know, ‘it’s time to shake your ass!’ The tune came in through the radio waves and people ‘back in the day’ began to wiggle and shake uncontrollably. There were the particular ones with beat-bop songs. Explicit lyrics came through saying, “…wiggle it, just a little bit. Why don’t you wiggle? As it grooves…” (2 in a Room)
OMG, this was super fun! Then the body shook with drones of sweat. People moved their behinds into a beat of happiness. Nothing was off-limits and everything came together in an instant, it was a house-party. Most would just gather inside of a small space and would begin to ‘pump and grind’. Yeah, you know, it was dirty, nasty and sweaty! And who cared? These melodies were to spice-up lives. A bump, bump of excitement and happiness; and things haven’t really changed.
Going back to contemporary history, it must have been 1979, the Bronx, New York. Oh yeah, baby! Hip-hop/rap was invented, pouncing into the dance floors of discos and spreading like ‘wildfire’ across the world. In the ‘gangsta’ (gangster for all you non-locals) style, “Hip-hop Hooray” (Naughty by Nature) comes to mind. There was and again, this connection to the dance floor!
These were the sounds, those of my dearest memories. Feeling of the boom and moving to steps in a one-two-three, one-two-three! What became a hobby later became my intoxication when I first tasted Tango. Going to ‘da’ (the) party it was easy to showoff! Going for the count and another four, five, six in steps that moved me rhythmically back and forth; then, it was that dramatic spin from right to left! After interlocking the arms for two turns and finalizing with a dip! And since the 1850s it’s [tango] the national pride of Argentina. Add the steps with the music of “Sweetest Taboo” if you want to dance it at a fast pace or go for the seduction of “Tango por la Cabeza” by Carlos Gardel, while watching “Scent of a Woman”.
Salsa came into one’s life, but it had been around for over 100 years. United with mambo or Cha-cha-cha, just glorious! All of these had the same origins. Humble at first, music of the people, its beginnings were from the Island of Cuba. Going first through Santiago and spreading like locust to ‘Club Tropicana’ in Havana. A quick explanation, the hips move in an easy two-step, from left to right! Dominating the ballroom floor with this new found sense of freedom and keep in mind, salsa is not about the feet, move your hips sexily in a circle.
Or the eternal fight over whom started those hypnotic rhythms of ‘Cumbia’. Was it the Colombians or Mexicans? But either way, Los Juanes, Carlos Vives and even Shakira have it already in their blood since birth and give them honour! And with women like Shakira, she has had other influences like Lebanese-Arab and the mixture of ‘Cumbia’ and belly dance are brought to life with a sexually charged gusto.
Dancing has always been and will be a positive stimulant, a natural drug in sports and in the exercise world. Therefore, dance will always be a source of excitement, a feeling of want for those precious moments of happiness! A natural ‘pick-me-up’, a “Feel Good, Inc.” and cure for depression. It belongs with those unconfident beings that want to standout!
Close dances are done romantically between lovers and one that comes to mind in the melancholy of memories is the 18th Century-classical waltz from Austria. Wow, ‘what a kick’! Done only in a ‘square dance’ routine, in a middle-pace of two to four step circled movements and further twirls… It’s easy to do and correct me if I’m wrong! But sounds like it can bring people closer together, while dancing to it with the French, “Minuit”.
Sexy movements are up and down, from hips to ass! “Shake it don’t brake it…” (LIL’ JON & THE EAST SIDE BOYZ). Here and now is Jazz, a dance with deep sensuality, charm and attraction. Well choreographed it can put on a good show!
Flamenco is a turning of hips from again, left to right. Most dances do follow the same patterns across the world. Done in turns, the movements come with the shuffling of feet in circles! Hands raised in a handclap. And those turns do come with an exciting touch, when the male touches the hip on either side of the female, as they both turn! Yes, there is a natural joy to all of this and we all have to do is thank the Gypsies, for bringing this rhythm to Andalusia, Spain 500 years before. Lovely and gorgeous, indeed! With the sounds of the Gypsy Kings’ “Volare”, flamenco just got better.
Going back to the 1950s, it’s America, land of innovations. From here came the strong beats of Rock and Roll, baby! What would later become contemporarily today’s pop. It’s the beauty in movement between male and female. It is with the constant and rapid twisting, swinging and movement of the feet, “Shake, rattle and roll!” (Bill Haley & His Comets, 1954) Excitement, yes, while building sweat and fun! Anxiety ‘will go out the window’.
Intensity explodes into a sudden calmness and now it’s time to have these ‘Desires for the dance’. Wouldn’t you agree?
Knowing now what you know, it’s easy to move into the discotheque. Incorporate everything into a finale and call it whatever you want or Freestyle. And then, no more waste of words.
Okay now, forget your shyness and get to practice!