Teddy Wayne wrote about it in Sunday's New York Times, so you don't have to wait for an explanation of "Twerking" from your children. And I hate to be the one to break the news, but it's been around in slightly different forms for more than fifty years when the kids did the "Dirty Boogie" at record hops. Maybe I should explain, "record hops".
Back in the mid-fifties, the local disc jockey would show up at the school gym or cafeteria with a bunch of the day's top record hits and some good oldies for the kids to dance to, usually on a Friday or Saturday night. Sometimes they were called "sock hops" because the kids had to take off their hard-soled shoes to protect the varnished gym floor.
Back in the late fifties, I had a regular Saturday night gig at Central Catholic High School in Lawrence, Massachusetts. As I recall, it was staffed by the Marist Brothers, and we'd have a couple of hundred kid show up each week for about 2-3 hours of dancing. Usually around 10:00 o'clock the teenagers would form a big circle and I knew what tempo they wanted.
One couple would start the D.B., as they called it, and the kids would stand face to face, never touching each other, but the pelvic thrusts and gyrating hips were obvious in their sexual implication.
I'm glad they supplied me with two turntables so we could keep the music going and if one of the chaperons decided to see what was going on I could always segue from Louis Prima's "Jump Jive an' Wail" to "Sleep Walk" by Santo and Johnny" or "Since I Don't Have You" by the Skyliners.
I wonder how many of those kids thought about their actions 40 years later when Brian Setzer's Big Band recorded a hit called, "The Dirty Boogie?" The more modern version of the D.B. is called "Twerking" and it made the news lately when Miley Cyrus, the former Disney Channel star, shed her Hannah Montana image on the MTV Video Music Show and appearing in a flesh-coloured bikini decided to "twerk" with Robin Thicke. She then proceeded to do a few things with a foam finger that I won't describe here except to say that they weren't very ladylike.
Teddy Wayne's story in the Times describes twerking as "a dance move typically associated with lower-income African-American women that involves the rapid gyration of the hips in a fashion that prominently exhibits the elasticity of the gluteal musculature." Get the picture? Miley has been accused by outraged parents who were shocked by her sexual overtones and by many in the African-American community who accuse her of racism. The Parents Television Council (PTC) issued a complaint against MTV for airing the routine, saying the show should not have been rated suitable for 14-year olds.
According to Wikipedia, twerking was introduced into hip-hop culture by way of the New Orleans bounce music scene. In 1993, DJ Jubilee recorded the dance tune, "Do The Jubilee All" in which he chanted, "Twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk, twerk."
In the year 2000, the Atlanta-based Ying Yang Twins released their debut singled, "Whistle While You Twurk". They had a follow-up release in 2002, "Say I Yi Yi", with the lyric, "She got her hands up on her knees and her elbows on her thighs, she like to twerk and that's for certain I can tell that she fly".
Now to really pop a few corks, tell your kids that you and your significant other have tried twerking and found it kinda' of fun.
Filed under: Opinion