Rees' Pieces: Twerk Tweaking

Ben Rees


This summer the word “twerk” was added to the Oxford Dictionaries Online. It falls in between “twentyfold” and “tweak,” as it probably should due to its popularity among the many tweakers gyrating at astounding velocities. Perhaps if I could whip my hips like a bowl of Jell-O on a tilt-a-whirl I would feel differently about this dance, but in the grand scheme of things, I feel that popular dances have become less impressive over time.

Consider this for a second: at some point, square dancing was the bee’s knees. People would gather in barns and compete in what seemed to be the dance of an era. Now all that we have left of what was once a cultural phenomenon is learning the Cotton-Eyed Joe in elementary P.E. This is no anecdote. This is a warning. What we hold on high today as the be-all-end-all of dancing will not last. It simply cannot.

A quick set of examples will suffice to prove this point. Tchaikovsky did not write his waltzes because he thought that they would be replaced by Victorian ballroom dancing. Throughout time, hegemonies of dance appeared to be everlasting. Unfortunately for those of us who cannot pick up a routine within minutes, with ever-changing fads, we will always be left in the kicked-up dust.

I cannot assert that the twerk has no purpose. Clearly there is an element of showing off latent in how aggressively one can make their ass-cheeks resemble rogue cantaloupes. I can contend that dances have become much lazier. Cherokee war dances had a very distinct purpose, as do traditional religious dances in most every faith. Even dances where fun is the sole goal, like the Charleston and the tango, require a great deal of effort and coordination.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t a new thing. Jazz hands are about as lazy as it gets. Nobody looks good flailing their digits to “When the Saints Go Marching In.” I’m not saying that all dancers today lack talent. I’m just suggesting that Cat Daddying takes a little less coordination than swing.

Whether or not I make a point is up to the reader. Perhaps my indifference towards twerking stems from my inability to shake what my mother gave me in any meaningful manner—no matter how much I practice in the mirror.

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