What is Twerking?


According to Oxford Dictionaries (Think Oxford University Press, publisher of the Oxford English Dictionary. It’s legit.), to twerk is to “dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.” It’s a booty dance, and a fairy improper one at that. Yet we have middle school girls getting their booty shorts on and shaking it for YouTube. Some are even getting suspended from school.

If you’ve seen someone twerking, then this definition might be useful enough. But the Weasel couldn’t help himself, so he looked deeper into the internet…

The History of Twerking

Yes, there is a genuine history of twerking. Introduced into the mainstream popular culture by pop stars like Miley Cyrus, many have since discredited the dance move. But it has been said that the dance move carries some surprising similarities to traditional African dances. In fact, a  dance called mapouka (also known in French as “la danse du fessier” or “the dance of the behind”) , which  has it origins in the southeast regions of the Ivory Coast in Africa, boasts a very similar movement to the twerk. To go farther back, mapouka is believed to be a descendant of a far less provocative traditional dance from the Ivory Coast’s coastal regions. Just some innocent African booty shaking.

As the popularity of this particular booty dance spread and gained notoriety, it spanned as far as the United States when twerking was introduced into New Orleans hip-hop culture and more specifically the bounce music scene of the 1980s.  In the 1990’s, twerk became a popular lyric in many hip-hop songs, but hit mainstream pop music by 2000 when artists ranging from Beyonce to Justin Timberlake mentioned twerk or twerking in their hit song lyrics.

Then came Miley Cyrus’  move into a more “adult” phase of her celebrity and the boom of twerking and twerk news in the United States… But that’s another story.

Twerking 101

Though there are variations on the twerk, the general motion requires the surprisingly difficult act of wiggling the buttocks without moving the hips. Especially difficult to pull off among the flat booty crowd, the move is certainly more enticing with a little more junk in the trunk. Common among most variations of the move is the stance, which has the legs spread and the dancer in a half squat position with the booty “popped out.” Some of the more advanced twerk moves include a full forward bend with the hands on the floor or even a handstand position with the legs on the wall for what has been coined the Wall Twerk.

Still can’t picture it? The Weasel would demonstrate, but he’s rhythmically challenged and surprisingly shy. So instead, for a step by step guide check out the three ways to twerk. Or for more visual fun, check out this video guide. Go ahead and practice twerking in your bathroom mirror with the music blasting. Just don’t whip this one out at a family reunion or company party – no need to embarrass grandma or your boss.


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