Left Cheek. Right Cheek. Both Cheeks. Now throw that a**in a circle, Aye!
I swear I was at least seven years old I when I learned how to twerk, and most Black women were taught around the same age. It just comes naturally to us. The simple movements of twirling and whining my waist and making my butt bounce up and down while gyrating my hips to the beat brings me pure joy! Not to mention, it’s sexy and alluring. It’s one of the most liberating and sensual movements you can do with your body, and it’s actually good for you! Twerking strengthens your ass, thighs, lower abs and it helps you snatch your waist. For women, opening up your hips is vital. The hips are the external/visual extensions of your fallopian tubes so, opening this space up increases your womb & Yoni health which is important for all women and humans with vaginas. Although “ Hot Girl Summer,” is the trend of this year, it baffles me that many black women have repressed this movement for various reasons (trauma, socialization, shaming) and have lost touch with the enjoyment and power that comes from moving the waist and hips. In fact, various incarnations of the “booty dance” still have to fight against attacks that it is vulgar, ghetto and immoral.
The roots of Twerking ( just like everything else in this world) started centuries ago in Africa, #Period. It can be traced to Côte d’Ivoire in West Africa, where a similar style of dance, known as the Mapouka dance, was originated. Depending on what country on the continent in Africa, South America, and the Carribeans you will find that twerking is a cultural norm- done in different ways and for sacred reasons. In fact, this deep and rich practice is performed at religious ceremonies and celebratory events like weddings, funerals and ancestral rituals. Twerking found it’s way to America via the New Orleans Bounce scene and by way of the reggae and dance hall scene in Jamaica. I promise you – the level of twerking and butt shaking in African Dance classes or in a New Orleans house party is out of this world! Twerking requires tremendous skill, isolation of muscles and attention to your body, I personally revere it to be just as artful as ballet and tap dancing.
In the age of MTV, twerking has been commercialized, commodified and overtaken over the male gaze through the lens of sex. On top of the Black body politics and misogynoir, Black women have been shamed out of doing what is inherently ours – leaving room for white women to now claim twerking as their own. White celebrities like Miley Cyrus have brought twerking to the mainstream, watering the movements down and even creating businesses out of it to make it accessible for everyone ( It’s just not the same when they do it, bruh!). This is a sad reminder that much of White America’s culture is based upon extracting from Black culture for their own personal gain #overit.
Personally, I’m reclaiming my right to twerk and my right to be sensual, sexy and free. Seeing Meg the Stallion and Lizzo post their Flute and Glute twerk video amplified this desire even more!
So, I asked my friend and favorite dancer, Monie Gee to come by for a twerking cipher at the park! Monie is a company member of the Forces of Nature Dance Theatre ( she recently danced in Dance Africa) and she is a Creative Arts Therapist (Dance/Movement Therapist) which is a form of psychotherapy. She uses movement to reach and help her patients – children & adolescents- when words fail and/or not enough.
In our time together, Monie has impressed upon me how important moving your body is for your overall health, noting that twerking is self-care! In dancing and moving your butt, you are allowing yourself to be free, moving through a trance-like state. Monie had me cracking up while explaining her daily twerking practice, “ I twerk everyday. Sometimes it’s a random twerk break in the middle of the day if I’m sitting down for too long to help release my glutes and lower back or just plain ole energy release, but definitely every night before bed…Yea in the wintertime, butt to the heater is my favorite way to twerk.”
Y’all I want to remind you that moving your ass and hips is divine movement. Feel free to twerk something in the back of the club or toot that thang up at home in from of your mirror! Twerk for good Yoni health and twerk because it brings you pleasure. I invite you to also do some more research on its origins to remember the culture and rich history of twerking and respect it as part of tradition and heritage. Sensuality is the manifestation of self-love in the form of thought, feeling/enjoyment, and action (movement & dancing).