THE AL GILKES COLUMN: ‘Twerk’ dancing not new
Have you seen or heard about the newest dance craze gripping the United States and, as a result, other parts of the world? It’s called twerking.
Well, since Miley Cyrus stripped off her leotard on stage at the recent MTV Video Music Awards, pooched back in a 6:15 position with her tongue hanging out of her mouth like a dog in heat, and let her almost non-existent bumsi roll on fellow entertainer Robin Thicke during a performance of his big hit Blurred Lines, I cannot switch to any channel on my TV without hearing somebody mentioning something about twerking.
It’s on the lips of every late-night talk show host, including Jay Leno, David Letterman, Conan O’Brien, Craig Ferguson and the recently resurrected Arsenio Hall. It’s on the lips of newscasters on every news channel including CNN, NBC, ABC and BBC. Everybody else possible has been carrying on about twerking, many ignorantly assuming it to be a new dance move invented by Miley. She is even referred to as the Queen of Twerk.
That’s not all. If you go on YouTube you can find videos with sexy professional dancers teaching women how to twerk for free.
But the most unexpected thing for me was watching my old, razor-tongue Fashion Police critic Joan Rivers ending a recent edition with a twerking competition. Of course, as she always does, Joan won but with a stunt stand-in, who was obviously a Jamaican dancehall queen who even twerked in a headstand.
But what exactly is twerking?
Believe it or not, but the word has now been included in the online Oxford Dictionary which describes the dance thusly: To twerk is to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.
The online Wikipedia is even more descriptive with: Twerking is a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer’s buttocks to shake, “wobble” and “jiggle”.
Now here is what has me amused about what is being promoted as a phenomenon. If I were a newborn baby, I would have to believe that twerking was another in the long list of American dance creations like the Charleston, the Twist, Mash Potato, the Dog, the Bump, the Robot and Lean Back, to name a few. I would not know that Caribbean people were “twerking” from since before they got off the slave ship.
I would not know that back in 1984, the self-proclaimed calypso king of the world, Mighty Sparrow, recorded a song with lyrics that went: Doh back-back on me, don’t back-back/ You look so pretty, really sexy/ Bum bum look so healthy jamming on me purposely/Darling doh back-back on me.
I would also not know that our own Caribbean calypso queen, Alison Hinds, was twerking on stage with that big bumper all these years and that Lil Rick has been making thousands of female fans do the same with his command to “work it”.
I wonder which next-nother American performer will stand on stage before millions, do a 6:30 twerk and call it their own even with a reinvention of the Bajan lyrics: bend down, touch your toes, pooch back and let your bumsi roll.
• Al Gilkes heads a public relations firm.