In 2002 I fell in love with the sounds of house, which stimulated my infatuation with house dancing. I grew up in a household in which boogaloo, popping, breaking, and hip-hop were being practiced by my brother and of course my mother, who is an old school popper. Dance was a key part of my cultural development and falling in love with the house culture introduced me to house dancing…my favorite abstract expression.
As a child taking ballet, modern, lyrical, and variants of jazz, I had always had a passion for dancing. While my brother, choreographer Jamile McGee, took dance serious and made it his career, I on the other hand didn’t pursue it as a career. But my lifestyle of house music led me to discovering a unique freedom and abstract expression within the atmospheric beats of house. House dancing is one of my favorite styles of dance and I do refer to myself as a house dancer.
Now, within house dancing you’ve got legends like Brian “Footwork” Green, Ejoe Wilson, Tony McGregor, Marjory Smarth, Caleaf Sellers and “Brooklyn” Terry Wright that are professional house dancers, but I think anyone and everyone who lets house move them is a house dancer. Yes, there are technical moves in the foundations of house, which including footwork, jacking, and lofting, but aside from having the skills down, house is truly a feeling; there is no right or wrong way to house.
You see, the beauty of house is the unlimited potential to express yourself. Whatever the beat compels your soul to feel, your body knows how to naturally respond. Even if you do have some 8 counts prepared, you still get lost in the music and the spirit of house moves your body.
This fluid expression in house dance results in so many different styles of house dancing. You can spend hours on YouTube (like I do) and see so many different house dancers with their own style. While one might be more driven to do footwork, another dancer might be more soulful and loose with big expressions via the arms and torso. It all really depends on how the track moves you at the moment.
With the freedom of mind, body, and soul being priority, that doesn’t mean house dance is obsolete from competition; the vibe of competing is less aggressive and more in the spirit of happiness. Events such as House Dance International and House Dance Forever bring house dancers, spectators, novices, and house aficionados from around the world together to compete, share music, and keep the culture thriving.Competition can be fierce, but there is still a level of joy and spiritual freedom in the competitors that you might not see in a hip-hop battle.
House dance is all about letting the music take control and losing all inhibitions; nothing is off limits, no style or movement is considered “wrong.” You could be jacking one moment, then throwing in a hint of vogue followed by some african movement. Now, there are battles and styles such as vogue and wacking that are often in their own categories at events, but freestyle and experimental rounds allow for anything and everything…in the spirit of house.
So, as you can see, I can keep going on a long-winded explanation of house dance and the art of it. But I’d rather let the videos do the rest of the talking. So I leave you with this. You know how you walk into an art gallery and you see that insane abstract piece that makes no sense, yet it speaks to you? Well, that’s the spirit of house. House is that weird abstract painting that inspires you to stare, speak, or even pick up a brush and let the innate emotion move your limbs…jack your body.
It’s been a few days since I’ve actually been able to enjoy some new music, sit down, and share it with you on this blog. I literally just drove all the way across country; Los Angeles to Baltimore, Maryland….and now I’m on this journey of self discovery, trying to make my dreams as a writer come true and moving to New York (or staying here in DC and making life epic). Hey, I just graduated college, so I have the right to be a nomad and figure life out!
Everything I mentioned above probably deserves another post, but I can say I’m happy to be back on the East Coast and I’m anxious to go dancing! Speaking of dancing, French Horn Rebellion’s single “Girls” is such a great track to dance to, but the Chicago-based production from Rogue Vogue is truly one for the voguers.
Honey, if you love to vogue, shake your butt, and vogue some more, then you’ll love this track! The cover photo is so 80s, and the chords truly reminds me of an 80s jam. But you know what? It’s fabulous! So honey, you bettah work!!!!
Yes, honey…WERK IT! Omg, this mix is pure fire. I just want to start voguing, sashaying across the room, and throwing some fierce shade.
Yes boo boo, this track is one for the voguers! I mean, even if you don’t vogue, you can still house to it; but a fierce Ninja style vogue is more appropriate.
From the moment the intro comes in, I’m already jumping out of my seat. This is a MASSIVE NYC CLUB MIX!!!!! If you hear this track and aren’t jamming to it, then clearly something must be wrong with you. :p
P.S. Nicholas is from Italy.
As a lover of house music, it’s imperative that you study the history of the music you’ve come to love. Forme, my relationship with house has always been one driven by the past. When I first fell in love with the sounds of house, I made sure to study the history, the evolution, and develop a fondess for the classics.
In the midst of my constant research and development of comprehending why house music is so amazing, I’ve come to watch three documentaries that have provided thought-provoking insight into the evolution of house and club culture.
The three documentaries that I highly recommend you watch (and read about on my blog) are: Pump Up the Volume (history of house music), Paris is Burning (a film about vogue culture), and my latest discovery, a riveting 2003 British documentary, MAESTRO.
MAESTRO is a film I stumbled upon about a few days ago in the midst of a search about the house music scene in San Francisco. I’m planning on checking out the scene, and if things can fall into place, maybe leave Los Angeles and move up to SF. More on that later. But yes, as I was saying, I discovered this insatiable documentary and watched the entire film on YouTube.
Now I know that I mentioned I was doing a search about the scene in San Francisco, but the film is actually about the evolution of the “underground” house music scene and club culture in New York City during the late 70s and 80s. My fellow house junkies and dance music lovers know what I’m talking about; Larry Levan‘s presence at the Paradise Garage and David Mancuso‘s The Loft.
I’m not going to spoil every moment of the film, so you should watch the entire film (uploaded by We Mean Disco) for yourself. It’s a powerful documentary that shows the influence of the legend himself, Larry Levan. And it also shows the influence of David Mancuso, another great legend who pioneered “invitation-only” parties in NYC, which helped cultivate the club scene. Both of the men are legends, along with Frankie Knuckles.
The film has rare footage of Levan spinning, Mancuso, and it features great commentary that truly reminds me why I love house music and the club culture. House is a universal language that has a way of uniting everyone, especially those who are in the struggle and just need a release. Without Paradise Garage and The Loft, house wouldn’t have held the impact it does today within the “underground” club culture.
As I always like to quote, Eddie Amador’s famous lyrics, ”not everyone understands house music, it’s a spiritual thing, a body thing, a soul thing…” And my theory on that statement is simply this, in order to truly understand house music, you have to allow yourself to gain a fundamental appreciation of disco, classic house, and fall in love with the evolution of the genre I’ve come to declare a lifestyle.
House music: it’s a way of life, an atmospheric experience of beats and a community of unity.