Let me qualify the title. I began enjoying Hip Hop long before I held an instrument or knew the pleasures of a woman.
One of my most memorable chastising was due to a desire to watch my uncle break dance instead of coming home at sunset. I loved the grooves long before I could understand the poetry. When folks met me, they expected me to follow in the footsteps of my uncle who was a very popular dancer.
My uncle could dance. He was known as “Mumbly” (don’t know the meaning but I can only imagine). When he made the transition from break dancing to Hip Hop dancing of the late 80s, I did the same. I was much better at the latter. I guess because I was older.
For a long time, there was a conflict between the two (trombone concertos and Hip Hop dances). I eventually became “A jazz” of a brief group that also had my dancing partner and friend “B jazz.”
My uncle would coach us. Our early days included doing dance moves throughout the neighborhood to strengthen our muscles. My uncle would say “do your pushups so you can be strong enough to perform the dance moves” and we did. Those who know me from my youth would still comment on me dancing (and the many hip hop hair styles I wore, like the Gumby).
Our days comprised of watching videos, rewinding them frequently to cop the moves, then practicing the moves so we could perform our routines at various dances. We had a routine for many of the popular songs. Digital Underground’s “The Humpty Dance” had a routine that involved a difficult move. I remember falling on my face, going inside my parent’s home to get a band-aid, then returning to our practice session. My parent’s driveway was the location of our “dance studio.”
We were serious. We were new to the game and did not belong to the established “popular” dancing groups. So, we practiced and made sure we were always on point. We would start dancing and groups of folks would create a circle around us as we performed our dance routines.
I think the highlight of our work was winning a competition in school. In my sophomore year of high school, we had a dance off in front of the entire school. We did our routine and the popular group did theirs. B jazz and I had on our matching outfits. The music came on and we were focused. We practiced so much together that we knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
After many teen dances, early morning boom box playing while practicing moves, aftermath of Hurricane Hugo dance class for the neighborhood kids, bruises and sweat, we were declared the winners. And, the crowd roared…
To this day, when the music hits me on stage, I love to dance. I don’t break out into the running man or jump through my leg, but I still want to…