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Everywhere you look these days, someone is twerking. Twerking has been around for nearly two decades, but due to some newest high-profile stories about the still-scandalous form of booty-shaking, the term has officially been introduced to the world. Miley Cyrus is twerking, Micki Minaj is twerking, thousands of people are twerking, and your grandmother might be twerking as well! But have you ever wondered where this dance originated? Did you know that the twerking dance is actually a healthy sport? However, provocative dances like twerking give people mixed opinions. Some are good, while others are bad. Why do people view twerking as a sexually suggestive dance and judge it to be inappropriate among all of the types of dances?. Just because of the way it looks? Apparently, twerking is being discriminated against by a lot of people, they accept and feel comfortable with many types of dances but twerking. True, every culture, community, or individual is different, they have their own beliefs and rights to view things contrastingly. But it’s also important to respect all the cultures. Everything has its own origin, so does twerking.

What is twerking

Twerking is a type of dance, where the main part of the body being used are legs, hips, and buttocks. The main key point of twerking is basically moving or throwing the hips back in an up and down bouncing motion or by shaking vigorously, often in a squat position. Twerking has grown in popularity in pop culture since the late 2000s, and it is now a viral dance. People can twerk to almost any types of music these days.

Twerking may seem simple and easy for anyone to do. Yes, it can be. But if going deeper, do people realize that it actually requires a lot of techniques to do it correctly and to make it look professional like other types of dances. Even the other genre professional dancers find twerking hard to make it look perfect. Today, Dancers that are expert mainly in twerking are much less than other types of dances.

Its origins

Twerking may be new to many, but it has been around since 1993 and has a long history. If you think about it back in the days and currently in Africa that is the way people move, it’s a whole culture. The basis behind the dance is it’s all in your hips and the beat of the drum that makes people just want to go back and wine away. Also, in the Caribbean, they “wine”, which is a form of twerking. But now, through time and music, people created this thing called “twerking”. Which is basically the basis of what has been done and the way women dance for many generations.

Modern-day twerking derived from Black people and Black culture. It has a direct parallel to West African dances like “Mapouka.” an Ivorian dance born in the 1990s, (Mapouka dance : https://youtu.be/_Zw7PCVGYr4 ). It has existed for centuries and consists of a series of movements emphasizing  the buttocks. Traditionally, Mapouka was a dance for West African women to be used as a celebration of joy, religious worship, or a dance to do at a wedding to show you were “down to marry”. It is similar to Carnival, where it is practiced and residency accepted because people at that time believe that this dance led to encounters with God, it’s sacred. 

The dance was first used in the song “Do The Jubilee All” (1993) by a rapper from New Orleans, DJ Jubilee. In the early 1990s, New Orleans was a house of “bounce” music, a type of Hip Hop that relied heavily on call-and-response chanting. Then in many songs later from the artist like Cash Money Records, Lil Jon, and the Ying Yang Twins in Atlanta to Uncle Luke in Miami. Twerking was alive and well-known in almost every Black club in the South. But it would take years after these songs were released for twerking to finally become mainstream. Because of Beyoncé’s 2003 music video for her single “Crazy in Love,” the world was introduced to the “Uh-Oh” dance, or “twerking”. She can shake her booty and still be seen as classy in the eyes of America, and that was hard to do. A couple years later, the moment that is pretty much the Big Bang moment for twerking happened. Miley Cyrus, a white-American singer performed what seemed like the twerk heard around the world. Then in 2013, Miley released the single ‘’We can’t stop,” and she was twerking in the video. This even made twerking go mainstream.

Black women carried the origins of this dance through their DNA, through their blood, through their bones. They made twerking the Global cultural phenomenon it has become today,” and “Black people will not be erased from the creation, the history, and the innovation of twerking,” said Lizzo, an African-American who is an expert in twerking.


Why is it called “twerking”

Twerking is a Black American communal collaboration born of Black Southern culture. It wasn’t called “twerking” back in the day. There are two ideas of where the word twerking came from, one is saying it came from the word “twist” and “jerk” : two kinds of American dance. The other idea says it came from the words “twisting” and “working”. 

Twerking in modern-day and media

The original culturally meaningful celebration has become increasingly controversial, due to the present day focus on meeting aspects of tradition incorporating a more sexual and Western attitude. 

The media described twerking as, “disturbing and disgusting.” Critics are all over the place, people view it as something that was exploiting and over-sexualizing young women. 33 San Diego high school students were suspended in early 2013, for using school equipment to film themselves twerking in the video. They were suspended for at least five days for violating the school’s zero-tolerance sexual harassment policy.  Some individuals even see it as something that low class people would do and saying that they find those girls that twerk unattractive. Once it went globally, twerking was often misunderstood and taken out of context. Many people are stuck on whether it’s appropriate or not.

However, twerking is a part of Black culture, just like fashion and music. It’s even accepted, appropriated, and taken by pop-culture. Twerking is worth respecting. It’s a form of self-expression, freedom, and confidence. For Blacks, they twerk because it’s as natural for them as breathing. Black women invented twerking, and twerking is a part of the revolution. They’ve been doing it and going to keep on doing it. 

Forty years ago, when Black and Brown people in New York invented breakdancing, it was villainized. Mainstream media weaponized breakdancing by connecting it to gang activity and violence. As an art form and subculture, it wasn’t taken seriously, but now look, break dancing is now an Olympic sport. Then what will be the future of twerking?


Benefits of twerking

Do you know twerking also has benefits? It’s not just a dance to do for fun and you get nothing from it. These are some benefits you would achieve from twerking.

  • Strengthen your muscles

When twerking, you are basically squatting for a good period of time. Just like exercise, it tones and firms your legs and butt muscles, which is good for your body because it allows you to get rid of excess fat in these areas. Many people now are using twerk for exercise purposes, you can even find countless twerk workout videos now on YouTube.

  • Confidence

Twerking helps to boost your confidence. Because it makes you proud of your body, whether what size or men or women, every body type is beautiful. It makes you feel good about yourself without thinking about how other people would look at you, it teaches self-love. Besides, twerking can bring you to new communities and socialize with new people, just like when you go out doing other activities.

  • Stress reliever

Just like other types of dances and exercise, twerking helps relieve stress. When twerking, it makes you feel joy. It keeps you out of everything that is bothering you and just enjoy or focus on it. In France, there are even Booty Therapy courses.

  • Mental development

Twerking is also a brain workout, according to research, and has even been proven to help lower the risk of Dementia or Alzheimer’s. Richard Powers, a dance professor at Stanford University, claims that because you must quickly decide how you will move, it needs more brain effort than other, ‘stricter” types of exercise.


Conclusion

Now you know where a trendy dance move that people like to do came from and how much advantages you would get from it. Twerking has a rich history that should be explored and respected by those who seek to profit from this dance and its rich culture. People have kept this celebratory dance alive for generations, and sure it will continue to do so in the future. Nowadays, twerking has gone widely around the world, any festival, concert, or popular event will have at least one person twerking. So, when you are out there partying with friends. Just make sure you know and respect its history as you enjoy it.

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Media’s Impact on Society

SaschaSaschaFebruary 27, 2022

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