What Is the History of Twerking?


Quick Answer

The dance style known as twerking is credited as being born in New Orleans in 1993. However, its true origin has its roots in West African dance.

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Full Answer

DJ Jubilee has been credited with coining the word "twerk," which is a contraction of the words "twist" and "jerk," in his 1993 song "Do The Jubilee All." In it, he calls for the audience to "twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk," calling on dancers to dance to music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low squatting stance. Twerking has continued gain notoriety in modern pop music through references in songs by Justin Timberlake and Beyonce Knowles. Most notably, Miley Cyrus introduced twerking to a large part of the U.S population in her 2013 Video Music Awards performance.

Twerking, as a dance technique, is remarkably similar to the Mapouka dance from Côte d'Ivoire, a dance done by women that focuses on the buttocks. Originating with the Aizi, Alladian and Avikam people, it is also known as "la danse du fessier" or "the dance of the behind." In the 1980s, artists of the Ivory Coast tried without much success to popularize it after noting the popularity of the "Bump" dance style in the United States.

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