An urban dance story : the “Bucking”

Bucking, an urban dance linked to cheerleaders…

In an interview for the newspaper Out, Jamal Sims, the film director of “When the beat drop” tells us how the Bucking movement developed.

According to the director, the movement was born at Jackson State University in 1971. He’s quoting “Mrs. Shirley Middleton, a majorette, put down her baton and started pushing her hips and dancing on the football field to popular music”. Jamal also describes the importance of this movement through his social and political involvement. “Young men from the southern LGBTQ+ community who attended these schools wanted to dance, but knew they could not because of social stereotypes.”

Jamal Sims When the beat drop, Screenshot from the teaser on YouTube de World Wonder (2018)
You can find the link of the video here :

A committed dance movement

In the 1970s, this practice emerged as a dance style throughout the LGBTQI+ African-American community. The film “When the drop beat” traces its history through the testimonies of its dancers. After its beginnings on football fields, bucking took over Atlanta’s gay nightclubs, such as the Traxx club.

Dancing then becomes a way to assert their sexual freedom and to be proud of it. But, above all it is a family that has been created. Big Tony, one of the founders of the style, confesses in the film: “These guys are like brothers to me”. Dancing is their way out. It’s just a way to get away from work or family problems. The dancers express themselves on the dance floors of Atlanta’s clubs and spread it out in the city. In the end, the urban life becomes the front line of their emancipation.

Intimately linked to the urban?

At the beginning of the bucking movement, the LGBTQI+ community was not exposed to a wide public. Indeed, in spirit this style of dance was reserved for women so it was hard for a man to get a hold of it. Like hip-hop and breakdance culture, bucking was formed around street battles. The remote parking lots of Atlanta City were their first dates of the dancers.

The appropriation of urban spaces by the Bucking movement marked their growing participation in society. The concept of Henri Lefebvre Right to the city showed the importance of the urban context within social movements. This French philosopher ensures that the revolution in our daily lives is also potentially liberating.

Intimately, the Right to the city is strongly linked to the Right to be different but, above all, to Social justice. Nancy Fraser, an American philosopher, shows that social justice does not exist without the recognition of the different cultural identities. In the case of bucking, dancing led them to find their place in society.

A recognition

The film “When the beat drop“, shows how far bucking dancers have come to be officially accepted. From now on, national bucking competitions are organized every year by the founders of the movement. The teams still dance but the mouvement has changed a lot since the clashes in the car parks.

Over the years, a strong link has been built between memories, conflicts and urban spaces. More and more social groups are claiming their right to participate in society as well. And this movement is still growing.

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