How was Twerking Invented: Three Instances of Why This is the Hottest Dance Move in the World

Twerking is so last year, but apparently, select people all over the world are still doing it. Want proof?  Nicki Minaj is still doing the “twerking” thing even despite the fact that Miley Cyrus had a full year ahead doing the same thing on the EXACT same event! But then again, that’s how cultural appropriation works—you get all the best things that a culture has to offer, and you practically build a whole cottage industry around it. Of course, as you may probably guess by now, the underlying significance on how was twerking invented goes beyond the news that we see on our feeds.

So, where do we start tracking the “start” of twerking, then? Well, just like with almost all things associated with it, twerking has a varied history that the move itself is worthy of any cultural discussion. And, of course, we’ll get to it in the most concise way possible! Read on below to discover how twerking was invented and why it still continues to be one the most popular dance moves in the world next to pole dancing:

How was Twerking Invented

  1. The “Old World” Roots of Twerking

There is no question that twerking was spun off from the world of hiphop. Hence, because of that, it may also prove to be no surprise to some that the art of twerking also comes indirectly from the continent which inspired hiphop in the first place: Africa.

In this article published by the Southern Times of Africa, many of the common trappings of hiphop—like rapping, breakdancing, and graffiti, just to name among a few—are the modern-day antecedents of a profession known as the “griot”, a person whose responsibility it was to preserve his or her ancestors’ own culture through singing and narration. It is practically a method of “oral history”, by any other name.

Similarly, twerking came from the same African roots as hiphop did—one narrative even shows how twerking has even been used in many West African churches akin to the role choirs play in the observance and celebration of the Christian religion. Really, if this says anything, it shows that twerking is practically an extension of one’s spirituality despite what its outside trappings may suggest.

  1. 20th century History of Twerking

Now, this is the point where things get to be even murkier than what they really are. During the “Golden Age” of hiphop stretching from the late ‘80s to the early ‘90s, many rappers and DJs were innovating different styles of the genre at breakneck speeds that it was getting hard and hard for any one trend to stand out and last up until the next week when a brand new “flavor of the month” takes over.

As it turns out, one of those which has almost disappeared from the complete hiphop lexicon was the art of twerking. Indeed, one of the many instances in which this particular dance move was openly referenced was through a song by New Orleans rapper DJ Jubilee on a 1993 single called “Do the Jubilee All”. It was a fairly obscure song, and just like many of the hiphop tunes characteristic of this era, its “regionality” didn’t do it any favors. However, it was the first indication that there were other hiphop scenes happening outside of the fringes of the typical New York and Los Angeles markets in the United States—in this case, the “Jubilee” song was representing the “bounce” scene in a specific southern region of the US.

Twerking on the wall

However, during the last turn of the decade, “twerking” as both dance form and verb is getting to be more and more popular in the overall pop lexicon. In just a span of five years from 2001 to 2006, both Beyonce and Justin Timberlake had referenced the act of twerking in their songs entitled “Check on It” and “SexyBack”, respectively; both songs have also proven to be gargantuan chart-toppers all over the world during the mid-aughts, and it’s only a matter of time before someone puts it to much better use. Which it eventually did, culminating in Miley Cyrus’s headline-grabbing performance at last year’s VMAs.

  1. Why Do Twerking?

So, where does that leave twerking at its current state, then? Well, while it is mostly seen as an in-your-face dance move that is more in line with its sexual connotations than anything else, many critics have lobbied against it recently for being another one of the long line of African-American art forms which are “appropriated” free of its original racial heritage.

miley twerking

Regardless, there is no question that twerking is still a viable force in dance after all this time. Depending on the way you intend the dance to be, it can be celebratory, aggressive, revolutionary, or sensual—and it can even be all of these at the same time. It is an art form that is ever-evolving, and there’s a huge chance that it may be even incorporated in many dance disciplines in the near-future!

So, this is how was twerking invented, and this is what twerking is now! Hope you have all enjoyed this post today! Leave your comments below if you want to learn more about dancing in general!

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