Dancing the Summer Away

Dancing is my little magic place. Not just any dancing. I mean sista girl, African-rooted, fierce gyration. I gave birth to my female essence prior to Shakira’s shake and Beyonce’s booty bounce. I wind my hips so well that I make Jamaican girls jealous. They used to call me belly dancing Tina and as I popped and swirled in my orbit, they’d all crowd around. I felt powerful. I felt sensual. I was free.

As house music went to Paris, hip-hop moved in and I went from jacking it up to dropping it like it was hot, it being my ass. It was a different feel, a little harder, with an 808 drumbeat. The baseline made me do things like cabbage patch, wop it, and lean back for Fat Joe. I wore hip-hop well; my former househead grooves fitting it like a glove.

Admittedly, I fell in love with hip-hop and our relationship grew. The music made me think about revolution, about fighting for the right to be me, all the while, still dancing. Hip-Hop made me think about being in charge, Ms. Latifah, telling me that ladies came first. Rakim, Poor Righteous Teachers and KRS-1 told me over and over and over again, that I was a queen. They sang it, they rapped it, and I loved it. My hips rocked even harder, this time, with fists in the air.

Then something went wrong. The balance was broken. In the eyes of hip-hop’s second generation, around the way girls became gold diggers and yesterday’s queens became bitches and hoes. I found it hard to gyrate or to breathe in the toxic air. I left the clubs and in the process, left my main man, hip-hop. I convinced myself that I didn’t need him anyway. I didn’t need to dance.

I went home, brokenhearted with loss of sound and rhythm. My body wouldn’t move like it used to. I felt dirty. I felt like a hypocrite. I was ashamed. Once you become a queen, you can’t revert back to hoodrat status. My hips wouldn’t lie. They refused my ex-lover, refusing to accept any more abuse.

I moved forward without hip-hop. I moved to England and sampled a new lover. One, two, three. On your feet. Plié, relevé, pas de bourrée! For the first time in my life, my butt was too big to dance, or so the teacher told me. My body rejected that notion and the form. My soul turned up its nose. There was no space for my hips to sway. Therefore, no love for me. Ballet was dead in my mind. I could no longer kick, ball, chain in order to erase the old me. Me was all that I had.

So here I dance, into my own sphere. It’s a space where I am not defined by music, form or words, but by my own experiences and rhythms, from hip-hop to salsa, from kukere to bop. I can snake my pelvis upwards and hear the drum of my heart. I can dip, twirl, grip my hips, grasping my power, my freedom to be a woman. I am ferocious. I know it. I am love. Ummmhmm. Once again, moving to the dance of my life. Yes, I am a dancing queen, dizzy with possibility, strength and light.


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