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Dance craze sparks Scene debate

Tae Andrews | Thursday, September 27, 2007

To crank or not to crank, that is the question.

Across campus, students have been practicing their steps, and freshmen have been teaching their RAs the dance known only as “Crank That (Soulja Boy),” the latest club craze to sweep the nation, propelling Soulja Boy and his eponymous song to No. 1 on the Billboard Top 100 in mid-September.

Every so often, a signature dance move comes along that defines an era. It all started back in the days of the Electric Slide and continues to manifest itself with songs such as Fat Joe’s “Lean Back” a few years ago and more recently, “Lean Wit It Rock Wit It” by Dem Franchise Boyz. And of course, how could we forget last year’s smash single “We Fly High” by Jim Jones. The song invited us to join in ubiquitous cries of “Ballin’!” accompanied by a wrist-flicking motion mimicking a basketball jump shot.

Contemporary hip-hop music invites us to engage in lots of shoulder dipping, timed finger snapping and synchronized stepping. We’ve had people telling us to jump on it (Sugarhill Gang), jump around (House of Pain), pop, lock and drop it (Huey) and gyrate and contort our bodies into unimaginable shapes and positions.

The Soulja Boy encompasses all of this and more. “Crank That” combines a little bit of everything, including the Yung Joc “It’s Going Down” “rev the motorcycle” wrist motion combined with a side-to-side hopping motion like that of a boxing kangaroo. For a better and more complete understanding of the Soulja Boy, be sure to check out the instructional video, available on YouTube in which Soulja Boy himself walks any would-be cranker through the various steps of his signature dance.

So as you find yourself panicking at Club Fever or at your next SYR, eschew the bump ‘n grind in lieu of the latest dance. Instead of awkwardly stepping on toes and sweating all over your prospective partner, do what feels natural and crank that Soulja Boy.

My esteemed, if misguided colleague Marcela Berrios advocates in the column opposite mine that we all should do the Cupid Shuffle in lieu of the Soulja Boy. I feel bad for her.

The Stupid Cupid is a no-talent travesty of a dance, which requires neither timing nor coordination, and will earn any prospective dancer exactly zero points in street credibility (and exactly zero phone numbers at the end of the night).

The people have spoken. The vox populi has made its presence known, and its song is the Soulja Boy. So as soon as the Caribbean-style drum strains and hard slamming beats of Soulja Boy kick in, you’ll know what to do.

If you can’t beat ’em, you might as well crank with ’em.

The views expressed in Scene and Heard are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

Contact Tae Andrews at tandrew1@nd.edu