YouTube Twerking: A Scientific Analysis Of the Viral Dance

Dance is perhaps the most prevalent art form across all cultures. When accompanied by music, it is most commonly associated with festivities and the human mating ritual. From the ancient belly dancers of Babylon, to the strippers of modern-day Las Vegas, the rhythmic gyration of a female body is one of the most common demonstrations of sexuality in society. In this context of courtship through poetry in motion, anthropologists will surely add to the pantheon the act of "twerking," the upside-down, spread-eagle, butt-jiggling dance move that has permeated YouTube, Instagram, and the internet in general.

           

Despite the symbolic subjugation that is overtly perceivable in their movement, dancers of the twerk, or, as they are called, the Twerk Team, assume a semblance of power in post-feministic self-objectification. They’re "taking it back," so to speak.  Rather than a display of sexual availability, twerking is more often likened to a display of physical flexibility and power, intended for an audience of impressed people of both genders.

Needless to say, the lascivious aesthetic of twerking renders these feministic claims dubious in the eyes of the man. Instances of controversy over the twerk are many. At a high school in San Diego, 33 students were suspended for their participation in a twerk video. Publicized twerking, like basically anything high-schoolers enjoy doing, is bound to offend grown-ups who do not want their kids or school associated with lewd behavior.

By comparison, the act of twerking itself is largely harmless. Consider "daggering," the Jamaican dance, which could best be explained as a fusion of dry humping with an extreme sports mentality. Daggering has been outlawed on the island nation, because of the imminent danger it poses. Still, daggering remains prevalent, and, to make matters worse, children are imitating it.

 

At the epicenter of both dances, twerking and daggering, is the inescapable Diplo. The American super-producer helms the musical act known as Major Lazer, whose first music video was "Pon De Floor," a cartoonish compilation of daggering moves. As a solo artist, Diplo plays host to twerking at any and every concert, and has the Instagram presence to prove it. Is Diplo a profiteer of the decline of Western civilization, or is he encouraging and celebrating the sexual freedom of the fairer sex? It seems the knowledge of the former enhances the experience of the latter for most. Indeed, once a booty is shaken past a certain frequency, there is a subversive joy for all to drink in.

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Sam Brounstein

Im a writer/filmmaker from Brooklyn. Northwestern University Graduate with a B.S. in Radio/Television/Film. I am the Bear Jew, hear me roar.

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