The Best Time I Made Up a Dance Routine With a Friend
by The Hairpin
My older brother had just discovered gangster rap and was being misunderstood by my parents daily, so it’s only natural that I would glom on to Yo-Yo, the only female member of Ice Cube’s Da Lynch Mob, an offshoot of N.W.A. She was the first female rapper I knew of, and she had pretty eyes. So when “You Can’t Play With My Yo-Yo” came out I insisted to Page, my BFF at the time, that we do a dance routine and perform it for the whole school. It should be noted that with lyrics like, “Check the booty / I know it’s kinda soft and / If you touch it you living in a coffin,” this song was extremely empowering to sixth-grade females.
We practiced in Page’s basement for weeks and this dance was ILL. I was lead choreographer of course. It featured the Kid n’ Play, the Runningman, the Bogle, and the Cabbage Patch. Yayer.
On performance day, we waited ’til recess, and I brought out the boombox, set it down and pushed play very dramatically. It didn’t take long for a crowd to gather on the tetherball court, and when I gave the nod, we stood with our backs to the audience for the intro and then went into the Humpty Dance went the beat dropped. “My name is Yo-Yo / I’m not a Ho-Ho!” Oh SNAP we was on fyah! A couple of kids were even doing that early ’90s rock where you lift your knees up to the beat. But of course we got shut down, because we were in sixth grade AND BLASTING GANGSTER RAP AT RECESS AND BOOTY DANCING TO IT.
They called my parents and everything, like I was going to grow up to shoot cops and smoke crack. Haha, Yo-Yo got nominated for a Grammy and Ice Cube makes children’s movies and I work in a cubicle now, we win! — Allison Davis
In 2003, I was living with my friend Leese in the worst/best apartment ever (we had a table made out of an unambiguous pile of garbage covered in an old boxspring and a tablecloth) and she and me and my then-boyfriend-now-husband were all going to Chicago to visit our friend Dan. It was going to be sweet, we were going to a concert in Milwaukee (like in Wayne’s World), we were going to eat Italian beef sandwiches, and Dan promised to take us to do karaoke. Neither Leese nor I were big karaoke-ers, but we figured we had an Ann and Nancy Wilson thing going on as a brunette and blonde duo, so, duh, “Magic Man.”
Now, “Magic Man” is a terrible karaoke song, because there is like a 30- minute-long psychedelic jam in the middle. What were we going to do? How do you even dance to that? We decided we would use that time to incongruously bust out every terrible club dance we could imagine existed. We had the catch-the-butterfly-in-a-net. We had a fisherman reels-in-the-girl. We had actual Night at the Roxbury in-synch head-bopping. We did all 16 dances!
We practiced for a week before we went to Chicago. We had full-time jobs, and were dating people and had other friends and everything, but it was like, no man, not this week, I gotta work on my routine. By the time we were done, I knew the exact second that the slight eyebrow lift and finger-gun from Leese that indicated she had finished the Roger Rabbit and I was to bust out the Uma Thurman eye dance. Anyway, tragedy, we never performed. We weren’t quite drunk enough, and this guy did an insanely good Billy Idol that intimidated us, and then it went from karaoke to live band, and I remember being swung around by Dan in a very enthusiastic two-step to a cover of “Rocky Top” (AIN’T NO TELEPHONE BILLS ON ROCKY TOP WHAT?), and then we went back to our un-magic lives, but every now and then, we’ll be working next to each other at Leese’s house, and Leese will shoot the finger gun, and I am Mrs. Mia Wallace all over again, playing inside the months of moon. — Carrie Hill Wilner
My best gay and I were HUGE theater nerds in high school. Like, when we weren’t in a play, we still just wanted to hang out in the theater and noodle around. We were also obsessed with boy bands, specifically ‘N Sync. And at first we ironically liked ‘N Sync, ’cause haha how dumb, but then the ironic appreciation turned to flat out crazy obsession. (We were also obsessed with teen movies of the late ’90s, again in an ironic way, like obsessed with the characters and formulas. It was early genre study, I tell you!) So, with the aid of a “Darren’s Dance Grooves” DVD, we decided to stage an epic dance number of “Bye Bye Bye” at the school talent show. We spent hours in the theater hanging ropes from the fly bars so we could include a marionette portion of the dance, much like in the actual video. We started out with our hands hanging limply from the ropes and then tore them out to start the dance number. And what a dance number it was. There were flips, there were matching outfits, there was a choreographed stage fight. We were on the cover of the arts section of the local newspaper. Was it the highlight of my high school career? Close, but nope, that would come a few months later when a group of us performed it on the dance floor at junior prom. Breaking into a choreographed dance at prom just like in She’s All That was and is the only Bucket List item I can think of, and I checked that motherfucker off HARD. You guys know of any proms I can crash this year? — Katie Walsh
For the school talent show auditions, my best friend Laura and I decided to choreograph a dance routine. Our song of choice? “I Think We’re Alone Now” (the Tiffany version, of course). We spent weeks perfecting our routine, which was basically just the two of us acting out the song lyrics. We ran in place, we held hands, we embraced, and then we tumbled to the ground where we sort of briefly rolled around on top of each other before kneeling to lip-synch the chorus.
Somehow — I guess because we were nine? Is that even that young?! — we never realized what the song was actually about and how this routine might have looked to the Girl Scout moms/judges.
Sadly but not surprisingly we didn’t make the cut. To this day we blame our mothers, who watched us practice our lesbian dance routine tirelessly (and even laughed about it, apparently) but never bothered to say hey, maybe you two shouldn’t pretend to be runaway lovers for the elementary school talent show. — Tania Khadder
My friend Kate and I went to Spain for a month, and one weekend we took a boat trip to Morocco. It was a group-travel situation where we paid about $200 to get taken around in a bus for three days. But when we got to our room at the Moroccan hotel, the door was open and the bed was all messed up — clearly someone had slept there recently and the room hadn’t been cleaned. So we went back to the front desk and explained, and they were like, “Of course, of course, sorry, just a moment.” Which gave us a few hours to burn (somehow? why was that?), and there was this wall-sized mirror off to the side in the lobby, so we just sort of naturally started making up this long, silent, synchronized dance. Kate’s like four inches tall, so she stood in front and I stood in back, and we stared into the mirror, arm-waving, marching, jumping. It was great. Hours later they let us into our room and it was still messed up and dirty (this part is confusing in retrospect), but we were like, “No big deal,” and just went back to practicing our dance. We never “used” it or anything, because it wasn’t like a dance floor thing, it was just this flowy, entertaining/calming thing. Then they were like, “Actually, we’re going to give you a different room,” and they did. — Edith Zimmerman
Paula Abdul will always have a place in my heart. I have vivid memories (though, fortunately or unfortunately, no videographic evidence) of creating many a music video to Paula’s Greatest Hits when I was younger. Our favorite, I think, was “Straight Up,” where we’d jump really high in the air to demonstrate our straight-up-ness. And then there was the hand-to-the-ear-like-a-phone for “Or am I calling…” Uh, it’s not actually “calling” at all. I’m looking at the lyrics RIGHT NOW and it’s actually, “Or am I caught in!” Awesome. So after we were done making our phone calls, there were slamming doors, and we’d hold a book and turn the “page in your history book.” So much actable material in there! And don’t even get me started on “Opposites Attract” with its various stepping forwards and back. — Jasmine Moy
Photo via CityBeat