Sunday, July 21, 2019

The C-Walk

Crips is the name of a street gang formed in Los Angles in 1969 by a 15-year-old malcontent called Raymond Washington. Gang activities were first reported on the campus of Washington High School in South-central Los Angles where they had a reputation for violence and extortion around school campuses. The delinquents adopted school colours as a means of identification. The Crips were originally called the Baby Avenues but the name evolved to Avenue Crips then was shortened to Crips. No one is sure of the origins of the name Crips and there are several competing theories.

Some believe Crips was an acronym for Community Revolution In Progress or Community Resources for Independent People. The gang was started as a power to the people reaction brought on by ever increasing police harassment of ethnic groups. However, despite Raymond Washington’s interest in the Black Panther movement of the 60s, this is considered a rather romantic notion. Instead many think Crips was derived from the term Crib (reference to the young age of the gang members). More than likely, Crips came from a misprint in the newspaper the Los Angeles Sentinel in 1972, when it was used to describe an assault by young men with walking canes. Similar to 17th century, Dandies of London, LA gangs carried walking sticks as weapons, this outwardly gave the impression to all they were physically challenged or crippled.

A similar thing happened in Australia in the 18th century when a newspaper reporter misheard evidence in court and labelled a ruffian, a Larrikin. What was said by the policeman giving evidence was the accused had been “larking (about),” in any event the name stuck.

The term “crip” was written on his Converse tennis shoes. As the Crips became established LA street gangs the movement grew and branched out with new subsidiary and or realigned with existing gangs. Crip culture now can be found in nearly every US city and beyond and sets are heavily involved in urban warfare, drug sales, protection and violent take-over robberies and warehouse burglaries. At first the Crips were predominately Black or Hispanic but many other ethnic groups have subsequently adopted the Crip tag.

Crip sets (gangs) traditionally have arch enemies called the Bloods. In most instances, Crips, have affiliated to the Folk Nation and Bloods are aligned with the People Nation. There is no national leader controlling the sets which makes detection by law enforcement agencies very difficult. The age of gang members ranges from 15 to 35 years. Some sets have three groupings; the "Old Gangster" are likely to be the originators of the set; "Gangsters", who are the hard-core members and the most violent; and "BGs" (baby gangsters) or TGs (tiny gangsters), who are the younger juvenile members. Similar subdivisions were identified in the Glasgow gangs of the 1960s. Older members with 'earned' reputations will often control younger members. For this reason, they are referred to as "Shot Callers."

Individuals are rarely known by their own names and have an alias or tag. Gang initiation ceremonies can involve being physically beaten by other gang members, which is referred to as the “kangaroo walk” or “bullpen”. The initiation process is often called “courting” and is designed to show courage and gang loyalty. Most codes of conduct require lifetime allegiance to the group.

Colours have played an important role in gang clothing and blue (in several shades) featured initially in Crips’ sartorial, whereas the Bloods preferred red. Crips would initially wear a blue bandana hanging from their left back pocket of their jeans. Crips also wore personal accessories to identify their affiliations such as hats, handkerchiefs, shoelaces, and belts. Fila jogging suits, Adidas sweatshirts with lids (caps) and professional sports team jackets with the names of Los Angeles teams, preferred. Dickey brand cotton work pants or bib-style overalls are worn LA Sag style i.e. loose fitting below the hips and revealing fanny (backside) cleavage. Nike trainers and British Knights (BKs) shoes were also popular.

The bacronym , BK represented "Blood Killers,” which had particular bravado appeal. The shoes were particularly recognisable by their chunky sole design, large tongue and inclusion of multiple "BK" logos on the heel, toe guard and upper. The brand was featured prominently in hip hop and dance music videos by artists such as Public Enemy, Technology and Beats International.

(Video Courtesy: TheOriginal808beats by Youtube Channel)

Many leading sport shoe companies deliberately court the patronage of youth culture and examples where they have breached good taste by affiliation with drug and gang activities is well documented. Sometimes this bad boy image adversely affects the fortunes of the companies themselves and when it was rumoured a company were contemplating releasing a shoe called Christian Knights (CK or Crip Killer) then many high schools and universities banned footwear previously associated with gangs.

Crips have made much less use of colours as a means of identification, since it was drawing too much attention from police. Now gang members use body tattoos, similar to the Japanese Yakuza. Crips have developed intricate communication systems that involve not only graffiti to mark territorial boundaries, but also the use of hand signals, called flashing. Much of this symbolism is caught in tagging and tattoo designs. Some popular West Coast rappers have close ties to Crips gangs in L.A. and will include reference to them in their songs. On rapper WC’s song "The Streets, he and Snoop Dogg rap about the C-walks , a popular dance with Crips.

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Another song with a similar instance is "Not a Dance," by Spider Loc, Young Buck and C-Bo .

(Video Courtesy: C-Bo by Youtube Channel)

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British Knights featured in "Back in the Day" by Missy Elliott featuring Jay Z and again in Robbie Williams’ hit “The 80’s.”

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Perhaps the most up front reference to Clip’s style in mainstream pop came in Michael Jackson's Extended Music Video The way you make me feel. The video starts with the Crip Walk and Michael Jackson is seen wearing a blue shirt.

(Video Courtesy: Michael Jacksonby Youtube Channel)

The Crip walk has now become part of youth street culture and features commonly in hip hop routines, with no particular meaning. Initially, controlled gait included body movements which spell out certain words and co-ordinated hand movements demonstrating sacred gang signs. Typically the choreographed steps were performed to West Coast gangsta rap and G-funk. Soon pro crip rappers like Ice Cube and WC transformed the street cred steps into boogie for their stage performances.

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If you would like to learn how to do the crip Walk there are several websites but below is a good start with a simple set of instructions to start you trucking right.

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Reviewed 22/07/2019

Thursday, July 4, 2019

'The Stomp' dance banned to protect buildings (1963) | RetroFocus

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Tuesday, February 26, 2019

A brief history of dance crazes and related injuries

The frenzy caused by the popular celebrity dance competitions across the globe has resulted in an alarming increase in reported dance related injuries from couch potatoes wanting to be the next Ginger Rogers and Fred Astair. Medical experts are warning people suddenly taking to the dance floor after years of inactivity risk a range of agonising injuries because the tricky routines of tango or foxtrot expose poor levels of fitness. The number of people taking ballroom classes has doubled since the shows began and now more people are being treated for snapped tendons, sore feet, twisted ankles and back pain.

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Previously knee injuries were more common due to the craze for step aerobics, now the incidence of ankle and foot injuries has increased due to ballroom dancing. Different dances carry different risks with the jive or a quickstep putting tremendous pressure on the balls of the feet. Slower dances such as the foxtrot and rhumba put stress on the muscular of the leg causing strain and shin splints. Poor technique as much as lack of fitness is likely to result in injury for amateurs, the experts warn.

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People are advised to build up their fitness, and warm up and stretch thoroughly before attempting ambitious moves. The most common injuries reported are ankle strain, knee injury, lower back pain, foot strain, hamstring and quadriceps injury, as well as shoulder strain.

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Whenever a dance craze takes hold there always follows a spate of related injuries and the current situation is not new by any manner of means. The tarantella is an Italian folk dance whose origins date to the Middle Ages. The choreographed steps are associated with choremania, (a psychological disorder), specifically tarantism, which involved frenetic, spontaneous dancing caused by the bite Latrodectus tarantula spider. The venom caused headaches, fainting, shortness of breath, giddiness, convulsive movements (shaking, trembling, and twitching), as well as possible hallucinations. Tarantism caused people to dance all day until they literally expired. Tarantism is considered to be similar to the choremania outbreak in Germany of Johannistanz (St. John's Dance, also known as Veitanz (St. Vitus Dance or Sydenham's chorea).

St Vitus is the patron saint of epileptics, actors and dancers. When tarantism was at its height and because it affected so many of the community attempts were made to make it appear normal behaviour including musicians playing mandolins, tamborines, or other instruments as the taranti danced. This is thought to be the origin of the folk dance and the tempo in music notation. So many people reported having a religious experience during their long dancing episodes that dedicated religious pilgrims adopted ritualised dancing to achieve trance and ecstatic states. The headaches, shortness of breath, muscle soreness, and exhaustion related to extended physical exertion.

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Similar symptoms were reported in the 1930s and 40s, when the Western World became preoccupied with body image and youth culture. Marathons of all types took place and dance marathons in particular were extremely popular with many people literally dancing until they dropped. Swing dances were even more athletic then the previous craze of the Charleston and dancers were getting younger and more capable of physical moves.

Throughout the decade shoe styles altered to give support to feet as foot strain became the most reported injury. Ankle hugging straps became vogue and shoes were decorated with bows and fastened by buttons to detract the eye from their supporting role. Arch supports became essential accessories as the cult of body sculpting, exercise and fad diets prevailed. Naked feet seen in public, which had been once taboo were now flaunted as glamorous fashion sandals became vogue.

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Thirty years later, in the sixties, medical concerns were raised again at the wisdom of twisting in stilettos. The heeled shoe had become the dread of all dance hall owners since 1952, when they were introduced and caused extensive damage to expensive floor surfaces.

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The introduction of discos a decade later and swell in popularity of disco dancing once again brought a spate of foot and ankle related injuries. The condition Disco Foot (a complete collapse of foot structure due to fatique) was reported at A&E across the western world. The popularity of Saturday Night Fever ensured more people were tripping the light fantastic and the same phenomenon came a decade later with the Chemical generation and Raver’s Foot.

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The ascendancy of the humble arch support dates from the 30s marathon craze. Now called foot orthoses, they continue to be popular. A reported takeover for an Australian company that produced an over the counter range of foot orthoses a decade ago was a reported £14.6 million US ($32.9 million A).

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Dancing Plague: Choreomania

Between the 13th to 16th century large populations of Europe were afflicted with frenzied dancing. People would gather together and dance until they dropped with exhaustion or sometimes death. The Dancing Plague or choreomania was a significant challenge to public health as it pervaded through the populations of Germany, Holland and Italy for three centuries.

First described medically by Theophrastus Bombastus von Hohenheim better known as Paracelsus (1493-1541). The cause of the dancing plague (or dancing mania) remains unknown. Paracelsus, Philippus Aureolus, was a Swiss physician, chemist, alchemist and metallurgist, he gained wide popularity, although his contemporaries often opposed him. Paracelsus classified variants of the disorder according to whether the underlying cause was lust, an abnormal mental state, or some unidentified physical factor. Davidson (1867) later defined the condition of choreomania as a psycho-physical disease in which the will, intellectual faculties, and moral feelings are more or less perverted, with an irresistible impulse to motion, and an insane love of music, often sporadic, but with a tendency in certain circumstances to become epidemic. The essential features of the disease were it could occur sporadically or in epidemics. It was a psychological disease distinguishable from modern chorea, and from organic nervous diseases.

Choreomania was always characterised by an uncontrollable impulse to dance, and a morbid love of music. Physical contact with an affected person was not a prerequisite for contracting the disease (the sight or sound of someone already afflicted could be sufficient). In its epidemic form, an attack was generally preceded by premonitory nervous symptoms and the disease was commonly manifest by physical symptoms including death. Many claims were made as to the actual cause including demonic possession, epilepsy, tarantula bites, ergot poisoning as well as social adversity. It is unlikely to have been caused by any one single event but instead due to multiple factors combined with predisposition such as cultural background, and triggered by adverse circumstances. (Donaldson, Cavanagh and Rankin, 1997).

Corrupt clergy claimed baptism prevented the disease and hence, by reverse logic, claims were made the dancing plague was caused by demonic possession. Because the involuntary movements during an epileptic seizure appeared similar to dance like movement many contemporaries confused the condition but it is unlikely the dancing plague had any connection with epilepsy.

In Italy from the fifteenth to the seventeenth centuries as deforestation took place a large population of tarantulas appeared in the Apulian region. Many claimed spider bites were the cause of choreomania but due to the nature of the disease this is also thought unlikely.

The most plausible cause was poisoning due to eating rye contaminated with a fungus, claviceps purpura. This resulted in ergot poisoning which gave symptoms such as nausea, abdominal cramps, itching, muscle pain, spasms, and visual and hearing disturbances, all of which may precede epileptic convulsions. Larger quantities of rye were consumed during periods of hardship when people could not afford meat. The Christian church was determined to stamp out old and pagan religions and would brand previous forms of worship as the behaviour of the ill and disturbed. Another reason for the Dancing Plague was a spontaneous release from the bleakness of the Middle Ages. The Church realised the danger of dancing and a council meeting in Paris (1212) declared that "dancing was a worse crime then ploughing the soil on Sunday" (Hennig, 1995).

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By the sixteenth century court dancing was well established and the tune Green Sleeves was popular at this time. Green Sleeves is considered by many to be the oldest dance tune to have survived in modern times.

During the 14th to the 16th century in Europe there was an important ritual called the Dance of Death. The parade was led by a figure representing death and became established after the Black Death in 1373. It is thought the dance of death reflected rituals performed by primitive peoples, who had also danced to acknowledge the passing of the seasons of the year and of a human life on Earth. Other dances in the Middle Ages did the same.

In the spring dances, village people performed fertility dances including Morris Dancing and during certain saints' day women danced in churches. Battle dances including the sword dances were performed throughout Europe.

Apart from ceremonial shoes which were found in tribal dancing from North America to Australia there appears to be no special shoe requirement for European dancing until after the 11th Century in Europe where more and more social dancing became the prerogative of aristocracy.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Chronic foot strain from dancing: Marathon, Disco and Raver's Foot

Overuse of the feet during dance marathons was a common cause of foot strain and sore feet. The design of dancing shoes, particularly the formal types, is seldom consistent with the anatomical features of the foot and by their very nature tends to be smaller and tighter than everyday footwear. The degree of foot strain is related directly to time spent on the feet. Professional dancers are less prone to acute foot strain than the amateur dancer. To the uninitiated too many visits to the dance club may result in hot, swollen and tender joints. Depending on the severity this may range from mild discomfort to total collapse. Complete rest is indicated for a few days with absolute recovery guaranteed thereafter.

Disco Foot was a recognised medical condition and was first identified in the 1970's with the popularity of discotheques. 20th century dance crazes brought with them painful foot conditions generally associated with overuse. From the Black Bottom to the Twist, from Ballroom to Boot scooting, all have claimed their victims.

Dance marathons originated in the US and were very popular in the thirties and forties. More recently the nineties equivalent was the Rave and Raver's Foot brought the chemical generation chronic foot strain. The symptoms are pain and tenderness within the joints of the feet. Closer examination usually reveals hot, moist, skin and the foot is visibly swollen. Often the sufferer will consciously change the way they hold their feet and further injuries, such as ankle sprains and bone fractures, may follow. Secondary changes to the shape of the foot may result with inevitable advanced osteoarthrosis affecting the weight bearing joints. This is of great concern to the professional dancer especially since chronic foot strain does not readily respond to conservative treatment.

In the case of ballet dancers for example, years of abuse result in irreversible gross deformities of the forefoot. There are five formally defined positions with very specific movements. After young female dancers develop sufficient body strength and dance technique they change their footwear from pumps (technique shoes) to pointe shoes (or toe shoes). In pointe shoes, the body's weight is supported primarily on the first and second toes only. All parents want their offspring to develop deportment but fortunately not everyone will make a ballet dancer.

Tap dance and Soft Shoe Shuffle is gaining popularity as is ballroom and modern dancing. Dance shoes vary in design and construction depending on the type of dance performed. The tap shoe does however give support to the foot and a fighting chance to combat foot strain. As always with any recreational sport it is a question of exercise to tolerance and choose comfortable shoes especially for practice. When problems arise see your foot physician.

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Reviewed 22/11/2018

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Anna Pavlova Dances 'The Swan', 1920's - Film 95992

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