Friday, April 25, 2008

Dance crazes

Speaking of pop and dance... With YouTube, teen dance trends are documented in great detail, often via self-video and rapid upload from dancers' living rooms or the neighborhood internet cafe. Not exactly in preparation (who wants a doctor who tries to act like he's just like you?) but kind of to get in the mood for the "youth" clinic I'll be working in starting in a couple of months, I'm taking a little bit of time to catch up with the latest.

My home territory of California, having produced krumping (in the South) and hyphy and turf dancing (in the North) appears to be resting on its laurels--I'm not seeing what's new. Maybe I'm just not cool enough to know the right keywords. But here's what I found from elsewhere...

It's civil war--ON THE DANCE FLOOR! YouTube has a bunch of videos with dancing from Angola, part of a new movement ("It's not just a dance, it's a way of life" etc etc) called kuduro. Seriously, though, the fact that kids are having dance battles and making videos off their cell phones and posting them on the Internet, in Angola, is probably a pretty good sign. Here's a dance battle between two guys--the second is the one to watch, as the crowd reaction will demonstrate.

In France, the kids have been doing a techno dance they're calling techtonik, which has now spread at least to Greece, Turkey and Korea based on a quick YouTube survey; here's a young man who appears to be a YouTube techtonik superstar:

But wait! You say that techtonik is a registered trade mark of some party promoter and there's a South African technology trends article about the integrity of the techtonik "brand" in which we hear that "for French sociologist Francois de Singly, the phenomenon shows how 'capitalism has moved into such high gear that movements are becoming brands even before they are really born'"???

Sociologist? Isn't that just another way to say "cranky old hippie"???

Jumpstyle is a club dance from Belgium and the Netherlands; here's the obligatory cheerful Northern European news feature about that dance those nice kids are doing in the mall:

The above newscast demonstrates the reason that the United States will still be the triumphant master of deeply-persisting teen trends (instead of flash-in-the-pan goofy techno dances). In the United States, mall security would be kicking these kids out and the police would be linking the new dance to gang activity, thereby giving the dance much more credibility and long-term prospects for product tie-ins. Which is how our security state collaborates with our entertainment export industry to make America still the greatest producer of pop culture the world has ever seen.

Like I say, I'm not cool enough to know the keywords to find the latest in YouTube crazes from Northern California. But the Bay Area has been producing "hyphy" for some time, as in the "hyphy movement" which includes up-tempo hip-hop, "turf dancing" and doing cavalier stunts with cars; here's a 2006 video which will illuminate how the American security/entertainment conflict/collaboration works, and provides an excellent contrast to the perky Dutch account of their new trend:

And here's some kids in 2006 at Berkeley High, explaining (or, sort of explaining) hyphy from the inside.

...and the inevitable documentary glorifying the trend, with the title of the movie celebrating one of its most dangerous and disturbing aspects, namely automotive disasters-in-the-making (truly):

Kind of makes European teenagers--and even Angolan teenagers--look pretty wholesome.

ADDENDUM: Yes, I recognize the red flags for diagnosticians and disability rights activists alike in a Northern California youth trend called "hyphy" as an abbreviation for "hyper" and by implication "hyperactive"; and in which positive adjectives include "stupid" and "retarded"; and in which there is the ironic glorification of the short yellow bus; and this trend is emerging among poor African American teenagers and other young people of color, who are disproportionately over-labelled and under-helped by the "special education" system. And obviously this would be a natural topic for this blog. But as you may have noticed, in a brief period of my internship in which I've been working fewer hours, I seem to be willfully off-topic.

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