Booty dancing (by the 1700s) is a dance where the booty (backside, rear end, bum, bottom, batty, arse, ass) becomes the centre of attention. Generally the dances are not as simple as just facing backwards and moving you hips side to side, just wiggling your butt or booty shaking. It is mainly women who do it. When men take part it comes close to seeming like sex.
Among the many dances:
- American: twerking (1993), booty drop (2008)
- Jamaican: whining (by the 1940s)
- Dominican: perreo (1990s)
- Ivorian: mapouka (modern version 1980s)
Josephine Baker’s danse sauvage (1925) in Paris arguably is a booty dance too.
Booty dances are found among blacks in at least West Africa, the Caribbean and North America. From the 2000s they have been spreading to whites in the English and Spanish-speaking worlds. Presumably the same thing has been going on in Brazil and the Portuguese-speaking world.
Booty dancing goes back at least to the 1700s in West Africa. I say that because it fits the pattern of an Africanism:
- Found among blacks on both sides of the Atlantic.
- More common among blacks than whites.
- More common in the Caribbean than America.
- Considered “ghetto” in America – that is, more common among working-class blacks than middle and upper-class ones and looked down on by whites.
Another sign that they go back hundreds of years in Africa is that the older form of the mapouka is sometimes done during religious ceremonies.
Booty dancing might, in fact, go back thousands of years, but that would be hard to prove.
To White Americans booty dancing seems to come from hip hop in the 1980s, but that is simply when it first made it onto television, notably in 2 Live Crew’s “Me So Horny” (1989). American television is heavily censored. Also, black music and dance, especially in the 1950s and 1960s, was “cleaned up” for white audiences. In any case, much of the supposed booty dancing in American hip hop videos is just booty shaking, not particular dances.
Views: Some consider booty dancing, at least in particular forms, as something that should not be done in public. This is mostly a Western view. In West Africa in the 1930s it was considered to be pretty ordinary stuff – it was Western dances, where the partners touch each other, sometimes body to body, that were seen as a bit too much.
Overlaid on top of that are white hang-ups about the “ghetto booty” of black women – like where they see Jennifer Lopez’s (Latina) booty as beautiful, but Serena Williams’s (black) booty makes them uncomfortable.
That in turn leads to black shame among some white-minded blacks.
And, add to all that, black men making women into sex objects in hip hop and dancehall videos, based to a large degree on their butts.
The unfortunate misogyny by black men and the creepy hypersexualization by white men makes it next to impossible for American culture to process booty dancing in healthy ways.
Thanks to commenter Peanut for suggesting this post.