Club & Street Dances:
An Art of Remembrance

Larissa Clement Belhacel

Let’s imagine hip-hop as a family tree, with many roots and branches. What happens when one of the family members dies along with a part of their story? Hip-hop culture is a party culture and a celebration culture that should not fail to honour the memory of its people. Tracks dedicated to famous rappers or relatives who left too early are plenty, homage is a genre in itself, but what about dancing? A discipline that won’t allow you to express yourself with words? Is there a way to “pay homage” that articulates itself around the movement of the body?


I’m going to focus on two legendary figures: Skeeter Rabbit (1960-2006, RIP) and Marjory Smarth (1969-2015, RIP). Skeeter Rabbit shared the electric boogaloo style across the globe. Marjory Smarth spread the spirit of the New-York house scene around the world. This won’t be a historical article attempting to narrate their great careers chronologically. I would rather wish to explain why their names are still essential and how the dance community pays tribute to them. This essay is built on a set of testimonies. I was able to talk to people who knew them personally but also people who were moved from afar by their personalities, as well as their relation to music and to the body, despite being strangers. I am committed to describing, with the words of the people I interviewed, the extent to which their presence as well as their absence still has an impact today.

Skeeter Rabbit (RIP) and his legacy (some elements).


 

I dance, because it saved my life”  (Skeeter Rabbit)

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Hugo Huizar (a teller of the story): “The first time I met Skeeter Rabbit was around 1983. I was in the house of Pop ‘N’ Taco. He was coming over with Popin Pete and maybe with Suga Pop as well. I had only heard stories about him before. People in Los Angeles who knew him said he used to be involved with gangs. He was a big guy and he liked to fight a lot. He also trained in martial arts. When he came, I was a bit shy and nervous around him. We danced and talked about things. At the time in Los Angeles we were popping and also b-boying. I always tell this story. We were in the Taco’s garage, near his home. They all, Taco, Pete and Suga Pop went inside the house. They just left me alone with Skeeter Rabbit. I felt nervous. Why would they leave me alone with this guy? And he said: Hey, do you know how to breakdance? Can you teach me? We got on the ground. Then we became cool, like friends.”

Stephen Mark Nicholas Benson, all name.
 

But right now, you all just know me as Skeeter Rabbit.
 

Born in Dallas, November 1960.
 

Grew up in Compton (Los Angeles County, California) and Watts (Los Angeles).

 

He was a gang member. A Crips. “I didn’t want to be a dancer. I liked dance. I wanted to be a gangster. That’s all I wanted to be. Period.

He also talked about dance as an opportunity that he grabbed. “He was a tough guy, who grew up in a bad neighbourhood, with gangs and stuff. Dance took him away from this.” says Hugo. Everything about him is legendary.

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Hugo Huizar (goes on telling that story):


“He was a very big dancer.


He was very strong, he was very big.


He used to do fashion model,


He held himself very straight.


When he danced, he looked like a model,


A superhero dancing.


Sometimes he would dance all night. He was a very big performer. You would watch him and go: OH! YEAH! THAT’S COOL! You would learn and be inspired that way.”


 

“He learned robot and locking first. He was a locker in Compton, before he saw Pete and Sam.”

 

He became an official member of The Electric Boogaloos in 1979.

 

He performed with Popin Pete, Robot Dane, One Arm Bandit and Ticking Deck.

 

 

“Toni Basil. Talking Heads. David Bowie. Michael Jackson. Jeffrey Daniel”. More later.
 

Auditions, roles, costumes, choreography.


“Business & friendship.”


“Always on the phone.”


“In the late eighties, popping became less popular in the United States. Dancers had to make a choice.”


Skeeter Rabbit decided to teach and work, all over the world, especially in Japan and France. In the nineties, he was the one who pushed the others to create a new version of the Electric Boogaloos.

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My people is all people from the street. I don’t care what colour you are.” (Skeeter Rabbit)

 

Wherever he went, he liked to hang out and meet people. He observed, stayed in touch, developed friendships.

 

Hugo adds:
 

He was: charming. Different. The glue.


He liked: cartoons, playing basket-ball, martial arts, fashion, working out and training. Teaching and representing correctly popping and electric boogaloo. Rap and hip-hop. Talking on the phone. He liked to joke and to laugh. He loved his children so much.


He was passionate about dancing and about God. He could talk for hours.


He wanted you to come. He hated: bullies.”


He kept saying dancing saved his life.


 

* * *



France. A country that already had its very own hip-hop history.
 

First visit in 1982/83. Danced at the Trocadero


The collective “Dans la rue la danse” invited the Electric Boogaloos as early as 1996. They performed in Carvin and would regularly come back to the North of France.


In the late 1990s, Paris was a buzzing.


Amar Agouni (one of the other tellers of the story): “I was training at the Trocadero when I got a call, The Electric Boogaloos were coming to the Théâtre du Gymnase! We discovered them as a trio: Boogaloo Sam, Popin Pete and Skeeter Rabbit. We were all moved. Astounded. I had been in New York but had never gotten a chance to meet Skeet. On my way out, I went to see him:

- I’ve been following you since I was a kid, I saw you in video clips, behind-the-scenes…

 

- Oh yeah, that’s cool.

 

Then he talked about the street, about Los Angeles, about France.”


Anniki Da Freaky G: “The entire room was jacked. We screamed, we stood up, we were in interaction with them. I was amazed. It was completely new.”


Much has been said about a specific event. “Les Rencontres de la Villette”, October 1998. A workshop was taking place at the Théâtre Contemporain de la Danse. An audition was organized. Mr. Wiggles and Suga Pop chose about twenty dancers. In the afternoon, the workshop was booked for the group Y-kanji. France. USA. Dance politics. Arguments. Electric Boogaloos or not. Different stories.


In 2000, Skeeter Rabbit was back on stage with Popin Pete, Suga Pop and Pop ‘N’ Taco in Villeneuve d’Ascq.


Farrah Almaskini: “The stage was high and I just saw this huge guy come up and do a mad solo… I was speechless. It was pure magic.”


Pascal Luce: “I remember thinking: how is he gonna manage to dance, this guy? He had such an impressive build! A tank. And then I saw him dance, and it blew my mind.”


Farah and Pascal started training with Amar and his brother Ahmed in1999. They got an opportunity to be in touch with the EB’s, very early, during the event Funktherapy. In 2003, a tour was organised with Amar, Ahmed, Disco Dave, Skeeter Rabbit, Popin Pete, Walid, Farrah and Pascal on stage, DJ Cesar on the desks.


Funktherapy contest. Anniki won. A woman. Skeet says: “I heard your conversation with the music.


Many workshops (the North of France, the suburbs of Paris, Sassenage, Marseille)…


Skeeter Rabbit taught the Electric Boogaloo style. He taught basics that kids could understand. How to groove. He gave technical details. Explained the origin of this or that move.


1- BEING ON BEAT 2- PLAYING WITH THE BEAT 3 – FREAKING THE BEAT


Anniki Da Freaky G: “He would create his own musical loops. I always have drums beating inside my brain. Whenever there is a void, a counterbeat comes up, which had a greater or lesser impact. That’s why they call me ‘Freaky’. In a way, he’s the one who gave me that nickname.”
 

Many stories: training in Sainte Geneviève des Bois, in Grigny, talking to the barber about Zidane.

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Pascal: “You would walk next to him, nothing would happen. He was very sensitive, very present, he was sharp, he was ghetto-smart.”

Amar: “He was family-oriented. He had his ‘homeboys’ - all over the world. He understood everything that happened socially. He kept one foot in the street, in spite of everything, not to lose touch with his dancing. He drew his energy from it, it fuelled his resilience.

 

Pascal: “In dancing, he was all generosity. He was there to give, honestly, sincerely. That was another side of his personality. He spoke a lot about locking, about the Soul Train, about Boogaloo Sam. He had a talent for metaphors. A wisdom that comes from dance itself. It was beautiful to witness.”

 

Popping is freedom of expression done to the rhythm of the music” (Skeeter Rabbit)

Rumour has it the dancer killed himself, under unknown circumstances.


The funeral took place in Los Angeles.


Tributes from all over the world.


One Skeet is enough.” When Pascal goes back to dancing, he thinks a lot about him: “It was super naïve, clumsy. I would repeat his movements, his attitudes. I knew it wasn’t ideal for the growth of a dancer. But I was afraid his legacy would get lost.” Paradoxically, it is by watching multiple videos of Boogaloo Sam and Skeeter Rabbit, and by focusing on his own physical sensations, that Pascal detached himself from his tutelary figure and found his freedom: “What I’m doing today is exactly what he would’ve wanted.”
 

Anniki went to the B-Boy Summit, a few months after Skeet’s passing: “He’d told me to come. Nicolai from Machine Gone Funk walked up to me and said ‘Skeet told us about you. There’s a dancer, when she’s popping, her head moves.’ And that’s very Indian. Following every direction with the head is very present in our traditional dance. They recognised me!”


Sometimes, influence comes out in a subconscious way. Hugo remembers a battle between Farrah and Kid Boogie, in 2008, at his event How the West was Won: “It was really crazy. She was dancing with his feeling, his hands, like a ghost! Pete was hosting and said ‘Somebody’s spirit was here today’!” Farrah recognises her aesthetic affinities with the dazzling dance of Skeeter Rabbit. She admires the freedom he had in all his moves and the styles that were characteristic to the Electric Boogaloo style, as well as the mastery he had of other styles such as strutting, tutting, waving…


They all tell me about his fingers, completely messed up, because of which he couldn’t completely open one of his hands. A gesture that stems from his story, singular – why try to imitate him? Those who truly pay tribute to him are those who repurpose his technique while developing their own musicality, rather than those who simply imitate him.

 

Hugo said about Walid: “He has a feeling of Skeeter Rabbit”.

 

Walid Boumhani - whose name is systematically mentioned - knew the American dancer and observed him at length. He doesn’t try to find himself in Skeeter Rabbit, but rather emphasizes their differences: “I am French-Algerian, born in Paris, in the seventies. My parents left their country to make a living. In this context, dancing was not an option. Skeeter Rabbit was African American, born in the sixties. There was something about him that was positively affirmed in his dance. He thrived.” It was his dancing, “inhabited and full of emotions”, that fascinated Walid. “He’s the one that embodies the most the essence of dance. He performs his isolations while keeping his entire body engaged. He brought this style to its original grace.”


While the enthusiasm is overwhelming, rare are the people who can reach this level.


Just4getdown, 10 May 2010. Tribute to Skeeter Rabbit.


All for one, 10-year anniversary of Skeeter Rabbit Rest In Power Commemorative Performance. Shangaï, China. Popin Pete. Boogaloo Sam. Mr Wiggles. Suga Pop. Boogie Frantick. J Smooth. Hugo. Jr Boogaloo. Kid Boogie. Acky. Tetsu-G. Gucchon. DJ Batsu. Kite. Kei. Fishboy. Poppin C. Nelson. Franquey. Bruce. Mofak. Walid. Poppin J. Crazy Kyo. Zero. Pop Kun. Dino. Viho. Sonic. Jr. Taco. Kwon. Kin. JayGee. EVO. Stone. Hozin. Spark. Luffy. Dancers who knew him, dancers who didn’t know him. Tee-shirts. Tattoos. Videos. Talk.


Popin Pete (a main protagonist of the story) continues to pay tribute to him. Secret archive footages appear on the networks.


We can see his influence in dance.


Rip Skeet (Slick Dogg). Inspirations (Aaron Evo). Poppin is (Pimoh). Locking4life Skeeter's tribute (Mofak). Stay strong (Jaygee). This is how we roll (Mr. Wiggles). “Music’s number one.

Marjory Smarth (RIP) and her legacy (some elements).

 

In this part, dancers are sometimes telling the tale with one voice, as a choir, sometimes with their own voices.

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6

Marjory’s dance (words from Sekou, Caleaf, Michelle, Buddha Stretch).
 

Amazing.


Elegant.


Beautiful.


Graceful.


Astonishing.


Captivating.


A phenomenal dancer.


She just had this fluidity, this smoothness.


High energy.


Powerful.


Elegant, through soul, funk and African rhythm.


She danced with such ease, you’d think what she was doing was easy.


Effortless.


 

There are – by evidence – some symbolic elements, when it’s about Marjory’s dance.
 

First element is WATER, connected to both earth and air. That’s what she evoked: “Fluidity is my thing. I think I am the earthbound mermaid. If there were a way to describe the way I dance, I have a lightness to my movement and sometimes it is as if my feet don’t even touch the ground.”  The image that comes spontaneously to Sekou Heru’s mind completes her own description: “Oh man, moving like water. The ocean. When I think of Marjory, I think of the motion of the ocean. She was just so fluid. It didn’t matter if her energy was high, low, or mellow… She would say: “like a mermaid, I like to feel like moving in water. When I think about her moves, it reminds me of how she described them herself.”
 

The other element to which she is related is the SUN, invoked by Michele Byrd-McPhee: “She was a beam of light. It was like a glow. It was like having a sun in the middle of the club. The space is dark. Everybody is in their zone. And then, Marj’... (she sings with a clear and high-pitched voice)… Almost angelic.”
 

A generation: She started going to house clubs in 1987 and became a househead in late 1988. “It was when all these hip-hop kids came off the street jams and when the hip-hop clubs no longer really existed. We needed a new home to rock out. We ended up going to house clubs. We saw like all the lofters, the voguers, the hustlers, all these different dance styles, within the same house.”  Ejoe – 1986. Marjory told Ejoe about these underground clubs. Long story short: he came to The World without her, without knowing he needed an ID card and to be dressed a certain way / Caleaf – 1987-1988. Both nineteen. At Studio 54. With his brother Ramier and his friend Link. Long story short: she offers her hand to help him enter the elevator (he has got a phobia) that would take him to the floor where the audition for Diana Ross’s ‘Workin’ Overtime’ video took place / Buddha Stretch – 1989. Shooting of ‘Workin’ Overtime’. He’s a year older than Marjory. He heard his friends talk about ‘this girl from Spanish Harlem’ and soon understood that it was her they were talking about./ Sekou – 1989. He watched ‘Working overtime’. Saw her at “The World”. Was introduced to her by Keith Williams (RIP) at The Choice. Became friends with Voodoo Ray, then Ejoe and Marjory. Manhattan crew. Brooklyn crew. Dance family (before M.O.P T.O.P came). Cliques. Groups of friends. Going to the beach, hanging out, partying every night. Music as a refuge. Danced their lives and their struggles. That was the time.

 

Marjory’s dance (Sekou, Caleaf, Mariella, Ephrat, Buddha Stretch, Michele).


“A dance salad, a mix of different expressions that she liked.”


Marjory was born in Haiti. There were Haitian roots in her dance, and everything she learned in New York, where she moved at the age of seven.

Marjory embodied many forms of the lineage of Black dances: “She was one of the first people that I saw connect so many dances together: she was throwing in Charleston and Lindy-Hop steps, she would do house, West African and all the movements culturally from Haiti. For someone coming into the scene, it counts to be around that. I don’t take that lightly. I think that was life-changing.”
 

“She never labelled herself as a house dancer.”


“If you changed the music from house to salsa, she could dance. If you changed it from salsa to disco, she could dance. If you changed the music from disco to electro-funk, she could dance.”


“A little bit of punking. Waacking. Some vogue. Top-rock. Everything.”


 

Some other words (Brian Polite, Ephrat, Mike U4ria)


Vibrant.


Light.


Fire.


Her upper body so soft, loose, round and sensual / but then she could kill the footwork as well.


Meticulous steps. Detail and clarity.


Next level.


Playful.


You felt her joy.


Strength and Grace of the culture from the Devine Female Perspective.


There were a lot of incredible women in this underground club scene. Marjory became one of the more visible. Here are some undeveloped hypotheses (from talks with MikeU4ria, Brian Polite, Caleaf, Ephrat, Buddha Stretch, Marie, Michele and Jihene):


* She was the first woman to teach house.
 

* She was one of the few women who were a part a part of M.O.P T.O.P, Dance Fusion and Elite Force dance family.


* Some other women weren't interested in teaching. Or they became parents and raising their children became more important than travelling. Or they preferred to stay underground.


* Some people didn’t stay, they moved towards hip-hop, where work and money could be found.


* She could smoke every single guy.


* She became famous, you wanted to watch her more.


* A scene from the past (told by Buddha Stretch).


There’s a cypher. There’s people trying to dance at each other. It’s hard energy. Marjory enters the cypher. She just dances, she looks at everybody, and turns. And then that harsh energy softens. And now, you don’t want to battle. You want to dance with her. And she would dance with one person, and then get that person to dance with another person. Now everybody’s dancing together. The circle opened to masculine and feminine energies.


She made it happen systematically. With April Floyd and Cheryl Moss.


She influenced both men and women.


She was around, teaching, choreographing, sharing her energy and stories.


She reached us…

Mariella – “Vienna, 2001. Here comes this tall, beautiful New Yorker, loud, laughing and nice to everybody around her. Taking her class, everything made sense. I went to NYC in 2004. I wanted to dance as much as possible. She was very supportive. I’m still living there.” / Candy - Taiwan to N.Y. Never missed Marjory's class, every Wednesday. Late lunch in a Mexican restaurant, where Marjory worked as a waitress. Teacher and student. Friends. “She took me everywhere.” / Jihene - Paris, 2003. “She danced for herself, for the music. It was very easy to understand, people were completely smitten. She didn’t take herself seriously at all. She simply owned who she was, she offered herself that way. Her femininity wasn’t necessarily calculated. I was 23 or 24 years old, I used to wear baggies and oversized everything, I did not have a lot of female role models at the time. I interrogated myself: a woman, who did a jury demo, who was legit… We actually can dance in jeans, with a top...? Oh OK… It’s the little things, but that have everything to do with the question of representation.” / Christine – Paris, 2003. “Everybody was so attracted to her. Her aura. Then in Los Angeles. A talk in class.” Marie – Paris, 2005. “She taught a class. She had a lot of energy, was not afraid to get close to people, touch you. Nice flow, dynamic, positive and fun. We met at a party. I felt humbled by her attention. We got closer over time.” / Rhoodia – Summer 2008, joy of living, joy of dancing. NYC. Mayuko - Went to N.Y. every summer from 2009 to 2015. “One of my goals was to see Marjory. She wore a blue dress, had long dreadlocks. I was touched by many female dancers in NY.” / Many others names.


 

Her class was…


Mariella: “Very structural. Physically challenging. One routine done fifty million times. Executing it without having to think. Was always referring to NYC: ‘a step that Stretch or Voodoo Ray showed me’.”


Ephrat: “She moved from a lindy step, to a hip-hop step, to a house step. Everything is connected.

Constant movement.”


Jihene: “She would say mind-blowing things about how to accept your body, your curves, how not to be afraid to show yourself, fully.”


Candy: “It was our routine: class, lunch, house, dance party.”


Mariella: “She took me under her wing. ‘OK, come!’ Very naturally.”


Jihene: “I was alone, I was getting ready for a trip with my kids. I had bought a phone and everyday she texted me the spots I needed to go to.”


Marie: “I absorbed New York, I absorbed her. I don’t like to be in a dance bubble. I went shopping, to parks. One session a week. Clubbing.”


Free (all: “live true, dance free”)

Mariella: “She always ended up rolling on the floor at some point. Like a little kid. She didn’t care what people thought of her.”

Jihene: “…a gorgeous woman, almost six feet tall. Why did she do that? Okay… We do have the right to do that…Okay. I can be a childlike woman, a warrior, stylish, mysterious all at once.”

Brian: “Come here! Do you know how to hustle? No?

You’re gonna learn tonight!”
 

Rabah: “She taught me how to dance in a chill way. She would make me understand with subtle moves.”

Buddha Stretch: "The best time to see her dance: with Link. Perfect partners."

Marie: “She was funny as fuck.”
 

Marie, Ephrat, Michele: “Stupid jokes. Her way to get you open a little more.”
 

Dinna: “She used to do that French accent. So much laughter!”


Ephrat: “You can be all the energies together, you can bring fire, you can bring water and you can bring air, you can bring vulnerability and you can be strength, you can be sensual and aggressive.
 

We did have a conversation of course, about divine feminine energy. She was that.
 

She was doing the thing she was talking about.”


Things she liked:


She had the best sense of style.


Beautiful and bright colours.


She loved turquoise, she loved orange.


Sneakers, eating, shopping, laughing, hanging out.


Mango smoothie.


 

She always connected people.


Deep and honest conversations. […] Friends, dancers, closed or not. A support. A word. Something they can remember. Non-exclusive. Accessible. A sister. A mother.
 

Dinna (a friend of Marjory): “She would be standing in front of the room, about to teach something. Her eyes would flutter. She had an all vision. A dance musical. Freedom fighters.”
 

***


Fundraisings. To support her during her battle against breast cancer. Even ill, she continued to travel and to teach whenever she could. She passed away shortly after a tour in Asia.


Celebration of life.


She is deeply missed.


“Nobody can ever replace her.'' says Mariella. “But for people who knew her, dance partners, crew members: it’s important keep that spirit alive whenever they dance”.


Dinna Alexanyan develops the Sybarite’s project: “It would never have happened without her.”


Michele Byrd-McPhee gathered feminine artists through her project Ladies Of Hip-Hop. Before, she had started an all-female collective in Philly, Montazh Performing Arts Company, but they split. Marjory, who was already ill, told her: “You have to keep doing it, because it’s needed.” Michelle choreographed Ladies of the House in 2011: “I was lucky enough to pay homage to her when she was alive. She went on stage with us.”


The ladies of MAWU also carry her touch. Marjory was their godsister in dance, since 2007: “I do feel that Marj’ keeps teaching me. I remember something she said. I would focus on a step and I think – This is Marj’, holy shit! I can picture her smile, the way she connected to the song. She still comes to us in this way. We are remembering new things.”


Linda LaNaija, with Toyin, two brilliant and joyful solos.


Jihene acquired from her mother, a midwife, and from Marjory, a specific concern for the body, to which she is very attentive in her teaching. She remembers doubting herself, because of her initial idea of what house culture were, and what she imagined its milieu to be. She talked about it with Marjory, who encouraged her. She met other women artists and likes to highlight them.


Marie dedicated her victory in Summerdance4ever to her: “I remember meditating before the battle. I set an intention, I connected to my grandma, I connected to her. It was a silent tribute, between me and her.” She adds: “We had this conversation about our similarities (our bodies, height, the gap between our teeth, the way we hear music, growing up with salsa, Latin, soulful rhythms). But we’re very different.” Be yourself. How to honour her? By teaching her powerful message, thinks Marie: “Don’t impress, don’t pretend. Dance is a therapy, a connexion to ourselves, to the divine, to breathing...”


Candy organises events in Taïwan, to keep the spirit of New York parties alive. In a video, she pays tribute to Marjory and to Voodoo Ray (RIP).


In ‘Collective Consciousness’, Christina Benedetti brought together dancers who knew her or not, to speak about Marjory, and to film the result.


In her society Massango, in Senegal, Khoodia organised a day to raise awareness about breast cancer, and talked about the striking example of Marjory.

 

Mike U4ria thinks about an annual event to raise money for cancer research.

 

Each year. Dance Fusion. Party to honour Marjory.

[...]


Her presence is also ethereal.

 

Music carries a lot of memories.

 

Rabah: “It was 7:30 am. After a long night of fun on the dance floor, we had ended on the rooftop. We danced together on Bilal’s ‘Hollywood’, which we played on repeat. To me, this track – for life – is signed ‘Marjory’.”

Taylor McFerrin - Georgia (Karizma's Bruk It Down Remix).


Caleaf: “I did a judges demo to that song, and everybody loved my judges demo. I made a sign and walked around the circle. That’s a song we danced to together before. It doesn’t matter if other people know. I just dance. She’s always with me.”


Michele: “She comes in my dreams”.


[...]


As far as movement is concerned, she influenced a lot of people.


A step Marjory did in her freestyle is named after her. Caleaf made the suggestion. Marjory’s step, or Lotus step. It comes from Haitian dances.


Brian Polite: “Elements of our styles are built on our relation with Marjory. Her husband Jef said to me: if you ever need to dance with her, you can always dance with me. Everyone has pieces, we all learned from her in the clubs, as much as she learned from us. We can see it in other people. When it becomes a part of who you are, you’re able to see the part of Marj she gave to everyone else. In that way, she’s still living”.

Skeeter Rabbit and Marjory Smarth seem to represent two different worlds: hypermasculinity, violence, electric boogaloo and West Coast for one of them, femininity, spirituality, park jams and New-York underground clubs for the other. Everything separates them, only culture unites them. Their passing, both of them at the age of 46, gives them a particular status in the dance world. They both played crucial roles in its globalisation. Their ability to build bridges, between generations, across continents, and their determination to sustain this role seems exceptional. The ease with which they could communicate, their generosity, but also their specific relation to words, to writing as well as speech, should be noted.


Of course, I was not able to list all the tributes, personal or in the form of events, that were paid to them. I wasn’t able to develop certain topics, but I hope this article is the first of many more. Sometimes, I wasn’t able to transcribe all the richness and emotion that some interviews held. The loss is an irrevocable fact. The importance of the collective – who becomes responsible for the legacy of these dances – and of the people still alive, who continue to fight for their memory, is something to point out and comment. I did not do all this work by myself and would like to thank Walid Boumhani, Hugo Huizar, Amar Agouni, Pascal Luce, Farrah Almaskini, Pimoh, Mofak, Anniki Da Freaky G, Nacéra Guerra, Marie Kaae, Jihene Grae, Sekou Heru, Caleaf Sellers, Rabah Mahfoufi, Mayuko Tokuhiro, Ephrat Asheries, Michele Byrd-McPhee, Mariella Gross, Candy Hung, Khoodia Touré, Mike U4ria, Buddha Stretch, Dinna Alexanyan, Victoria Allegra, Christina Benedetti, Sandra Salcede, Kim Holmes, TweetBoogie, Linda LaNaija and Jef Freedom.


I would have liked to talk with many others. To be continued.


Special thanks to Tricast Informatique, my family & close friends, Rita Kadaoui, Karolina Kubik and Vincent Bucher (for translation and proofreading).

Footnotes

1) The quotes in italics are excerpts from Skeeter Rabbit’s interviews on YouTube.
 

2) In this section, I complete Hugo’s narrative with some further information.

3) Quotes are from a conversation with Hugo Huizar.

 

4) We can read on this controversy the pages that Sheyen Gamboa devotes to it in Hip-hop: une histoire de la danse.

5) Excerpt from an interview with Marjory, by Sally R. Sommer (2011).

6) Excerpt from an interview with Marjory in a video from Buddha Stretch.

Commissioned for Ink Cypher, November 2021

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Larissa Clement Belhacel


She studied philosophy and performing arts at the University of Provence, before settling in the Paris area.
It was there that she took house dance lessons open to all, especially with Rabah Mahfoufi, Eric - Rickysoul - Braflan, Jihene Grae or Karl Kane Wung.
For several years, she has been teaching French to teenagers newly arrived in France, in Aubervilliers, and practicing radio writing as part of her teaching.
She is part of the radio collective Transmission, which works to explore radio storytelling. She started a series there on languages.
She launched the fanzine "My House Is ..." in 2018 to bring together her passion for writing, music and dance. This collective project proposes to collect archives and testimonies, mainly on club dances.
This fanzine, which also highlights the visual arts, is distributed at dance events. She aims to explore other writing formats on these subjects.

IG: @myhouseisafanzine

FB: MyHooseIs

photo LCB.jpg

Larissa Clement Belhacel,
Credit Sarah Lefèvre