Twerk­ing is noth­ing new in the black com­mu­ni­ty. This style of dance has exist­ed for cen­turies and its roots can be traced back to West African tra­di­tions such as the mapouka dance. In 1993, the term “twerk­ing” came to the fore­front when New Orleans bounce artist DJ Jubilee made the record “Do The Jubilee All” where he calls out “Twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk.” From then on, black com­mu­ni­ty has con­tin­ued to cre­ative­ly build on top of this style of dance inter­na­tion­al­ly.

How­ev­er, as most know, when black cul­ture takes the cre­ative agen­cy to devel­op a pro­duct of it’s own, black peo­ple rarely are able to retain own­er­ship. Although there were groups like Twerk Team in the ear­ly 2010s that gar­nered a fol­low­ing, twerk­ing often and mis­tak­en­ly been attrib­ut­ed to non-black wom­en like Miley Cyrus and viral star Lexy Pan­ter­ra who cap­i­tal­ized with her “twerk­out” videos and class­es.

But what hap­pens when black wom­en seek to claim a space in their own cul­ture that was co-opt­ed by the main­stream?

Enter Kelechi Okafor a per­son­al train­er and instruc­tor of twerk work­shops around the Unit­ed King­dom.

kelechi twerk class
Cred­it: Jason Grant

We asked Kelechi for her thoughts on the mat­ter:

I’ve always danced. I can’t remem­ber a time when I didn’t. Peo­ple told me I was good but I just thought every­one could move in a sim­i­lar way. When I dis­cov­ered that peo­ple couldn’t,
I set about want­i­ng to help them to con­nect with that inner space where I believe all my move­ments come from. I’ve been teach­ing dance for around three years.
I’ve been a Per­son­al Train­er for longer and it made sense to bring the two togeth­er to empow­er wom­en but most espe­cial­ly WoC.
For me, twerk­ing is an act of resis­tance. I teach twerk because I refuse to have this art form white­washed.

Here’s how it all went down.

Kelechi reached out to a local UK pole stu­dio in efforts to expand her twerk work­shops.

Their respon­se.

In case you need­ed to see what the stu­dio was work­ing with before in their advanced twerk class…

 

The stu­dio then tried to con­front Okafor and accuse her of incit­ing a “gang of haters”

The stu­dio own­er went even fur­ther by mes­sag­ing Okafor’s co-work­er on face­book as well.

Then the own­er went off to claim she was being tar­get­ed by racist bul­lies. Spoil­er alert: That’s not how racism works, girl.

The Tay­lor Swift song choice.… *insert eye­roll*

A full re-cap of the first mes­sage exchange

Kelechi’s final thoughts:

The way this wom­an behaved when I con­tact­ed her about col­lab­o­rat­ing just goes to fur­ther prove how much the main­stream love to com­mod­i­ty black­ness whilst simul­ta­ne­ous­ly despis­ing black peo­ple.

Here’s a video of Kelechi’s twerk and dance class­es

If you’re in the UK, Sign up for one of the­se class­es! Fol­low @kelechnekoff on insta­gram for updates!

How do you feel about the move to dis­cred­it black wom­en?

Rinny

Tex­an by birth, Los Ange­leno by sit­u­a­tion. Lover of Tame Impala and Shoegaze music. Come­di­an by trade. Mac­a­roni and Cheese con­nois­seur by appetite.

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139 Comments on "White-Owned Twerk Dance Studio Blocks Black Instructor and Calls Her Style “Basic”"

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Marsha Mais
Inter­est­ing. As a pro­fes­sion­al, the way she han­dled her rejec­tion is beyond UNpro­fes­sion­al. She could have brushed it off and walked on as “their loss”. Instead, she decid­ed to Tweet about them and post videos to gar­ner self pity. Both videos are pret­ty bare bones basic to be hon­est. I’m not impressed by how either she or the stu­dio han­dled this.  And why the hell does race have to be thrown into every gods damned thing? Please some­one explain that to me? Why not dis­cuss the lack of pro­fes­sion­al­ism on both parts and leave it at that?
Ivie9ja

Appar­ent­ly the stu­dio own­er is con­fused about the def­i­n­i­tion of Basic or may­be we blacks define the word dif­fer­ent­ly. So because we don’t need knee pads to twerk we’re the basic ones? *sigh* ok

Tonya

The stu­dio own­er appar­ent­ly is intim­i­dat­ed. She could’ve polite­ly declined your ser­vices but to play the vic­tim after her com­ments revealed her true char­ac­ter is con­fir­ma­tion that she is threat­ened by you. Sad…Keep teach­ing real TWERK class­es K. That is all.

nvrd

Mmmh, reversed racism. Nice.

Staci Elle

lol there’s no such thing … now GTFO with your #whitetears

trackback

[…] Blackgirllonghair.com reached out to Kelechi about the back and forth, she said […]

Degustibus non

Dear K, your dance style is awe­some, ignore the­se white basic bitch­es, I watched their ran­dom video ridicu­lous. I hope you get back­ing and open your own thing. You deserve it. <3

Mka

Ok, I’m just going to go ahead and ask, did Kelechi got that body from just twerk­ing? Like, I can twerk my way to a six pack?

Degustibus non

I grew up around Nige­ri­ans and they are blessed with amaz­ing gene­se, it’s genet­ic, they are tall, lean and mus­cu­lar. Blessed.

Cassy

No, she is also a per­son­al train­er

fanceeist

I know right! I want her legs!! I watched the so-called twerk­ing video from the stu­dio, and it is com­plete garbage. If expos­ing your cooch, pop­ping like a dog hump­ing, and grind­ing on the floor is danc­ing, then ive been deceived all of my life. K- keep doing your thing, that was sheer jeal­ousy and hate on her end.

ValentineAvoh
This issue is ridicu­lous!!! The girl can­not just accept a refusal and uses her race as a defense. May­be what the dance stu­dio meant is that her danc­ing was too tra­di­tion­al com­pare to the fact that they were look­ing for a more “strip­per style” type of twerk­ing (This is what I am guess­ing while look­ing at both videos). It’s so annoy­ing when black peo­ple try to owns thing that used to belong to them, like ok she might be a good twerk teacher but it’s not because she is black that she can­not be refused and that she has to… Read more »
sanjidude

I laughed out loud watch­ing what Bodybarre’s idea of twerk­ing is. I don’t know what they were doing, but I’m guess­ing they’re just try­ing to be fun­ny. They are jok­ing, aren’t they?

JustSayin
KELZ can clear­ly twerk real­ly well, BUT doesn’t look like she can teach well (based on the girls in th class- doesn’t seem like she is break­ing the moves down for them how a teacher should — but fair enough it’s just a snip­pet video to prove Kelz her­self can dance- may­be she has oth­er videos where she is teach­ing peo­ple who can’t already twerk how to do it- which is the whole point of a class). I don’t real­ly like how either wom­en approached this to be hon­est. The lady shouldn’t have called Kelz style basic- it was blunt and… Read more »
Myllee

“Fair enough twerk­ing comes from black cul­ture but Kelz going on like we should assume all black girls can twerk and aint no such thing as a black girl with a basic style (espe­cial­ly in the UK) … Com­ing from some­one who grew up in the Caribbean/America” I am con­fused by this bit West African wom­en have been doing what you called twerk­ing for cen­turies and there are many West Africans in the UK

maralondon

My par­ents are from the Caribbean but unfor­tu­nate­ly many of us are not con­scious to the fact our make up is because of our direct con­nec­tion we have with our African ances­try.

Elmiza

You summed up my exact feel­ings!!

Cassie

Why doesn’t she just open up her own stu­dio? You see all the­se white peo­ple open­ing up shop doing things they nev­er start­ed, tat­too shops, dance stu­dios for hip hop, etc Black peo­ple don’t own any­thing.

Kristen White

May­be, the ques­tion is why don’t blk ppl own more busi­ness­es??

EbonyLolita

Fad­da God.…. That Bar­re class is a JOKE and let them teach that mess b/c the white girls can con­tin­ue to look basic in their approach and under­stand­ing of p.… pop­pin’ aka TWERKING.
But once again this calls into how WE, Black peo­ple, con­duct busi­ness. Put Bar­re on blast and then go to a BLACK owned dance stu­dio to teach twerk class­es. Let them white ppl patron­ize BLACKNESS on all lev­els. Come to the BLACK hood, the BLACK stu­dio to learn BLACK dance from a BLACK teacher.

NaturallyMe
we all know by now that white appro­pri­a­tion is about as much of an actu­al copy as folks try­ing to imi­tate the impos­si­bly amaz­ing and so called DIY projects on pin­ter­est lol so I’m not even ter­ri­bly offend­ed. Most Copy­cats are laugh­ably uno­rig­i­nal and inept, and com­plete­ly inca­pable of resem­bling the real pro­duct while wear­ing their des­per­a­tion on their sleeve for all to see. I’d love to see blacks empow­er them­selves and instead of rag­ing out (which they want us to do, they love see­ing us sulk over the rob­bery) we should show our awe­some cul­ture and cre­ativ­i­ty and hash… Read more »
Lorraine Lomax

OMG!!!!! What the hell are they doing.….LOL.….this is so fun­ny and embar­rass­ing to call it twerking.….okay they can have this dance, because this is not the twerk that the Orig­i­nal Wom­en created.…lololololol…funny.…they’re hooked on sex — because that’s what it looks like they’re doing.…sexing out on the floor.…oh lord, teach the­se white peo­ple how to dance, because they are so embar­rass­ing themselves.….lololololol.….…I’m cry­ing.….

Guest
I’m sor­ry but that stu­dio lady is delu­sion­al. That is NOT twerk­ing she teach­es! They looked like they were hav­ing sex with yeast infec­tions. Weird! But go on girls, shake that itch! Call­ing it a “style” of twerk­ing doesn’t make it so though. I could lunge down the street and say it’s my own style of twerk­ing but deep down I know it isn’t. She knows hers isn’t either. She’s just bit­ter because she knows she can’t twerk and is hat­ing on peo­ple who can. Just anoth­er case of lov­ing some­thing black but not the blacks them­selves. Oh well.… what’s… Read more »
clever_moniker

Com­ments below are on point, but now we need peo­ple sign­ing up for Kelechi’s class­es. She’s the real deal. Keep your mon­ey from fak­ers.

Tom Whitbread

Those girls cant twerk for shit and she knows it cos they flat pan­cake ass no dis­re­spect meant but just an obser­va­tion. Kelechi was the only one actu­al­ly twerk­in. They just scared ur too strong n gonna show them up. Its all over the same yoga class­es an so on, same with musi­cians that aint that good they always intim­i­dat­ed by the real. Open your own stu­dio, an show her how to do it

lecia p
Appro­pri­a­tion at its finest! the prob­lem with a lot of the theft or cul­tur­al appro­pri­a­tion is that they think that it’s ok to change an orig­i­nal concept..what she was doing was not twerking.it is an absolute joke! its fur­ther offen­sive to not give cred­it to the orig­i­na­tors. Miley Intro­duced the con­cept of twerk­ing to the main­stream WHITE people.the major­i­ty of black peo­ple knew what twerk­ing is even if we didn’t call it know what it wss. We sure as hell have seen it… and it goes far back into our cul­ture into Afro­cen­tric dance so for them to not be… Read more »
lis

LETS MARCH!.….rolls eyes.….…‘twerking is a form of resistance’.…‘an art form’…lmao.……her and the stu­dio own­er is doing too much.….It might have been an ‘art form’ in the past now it’s been bas­tardized and cheapened.…..They can have it!!#. …She needs her of stu­dio instead of begging.….lol at the whole sit­u­a­tion.

janet

sor­ry, this is going to come out total­ly hor­ri­ble, but two types of dance I don’t par­tic­u­lar­ly enjoy white wom­en with no rhythm and non-lus­cious curvy bod­ies doing — is sam­ba and twerk­ing. They look ridicu­lous.

Kaybay
Thanks for the laugh, they were awful! I don’t see any­thing wrong with non-blacks join­ing in on our cul­ture if they respect the art form and the peo­ple, but this is not usu­al­ly the case! It’s not sur­pris­ing that our cul­ture is being stolen when our his­to­ry and inven­tions have also been stolen and/or white washed!  Sev­er­al black inven­tions were patent­ed by white peo­ple so there are some that we will nev­er know about due to this. Chem­i­cals have even been paint­ed on Ancient Egyp­tian arte­facts to light­en the images. Point being, we need to have own­er­ship over EVERYTHING that… Read more »
Rebecca
From what I could see, I don’t think anyone’s behav­iour was beyond reproach by the end. I think kelz twerk is more authen­tic and from the root­stock the dance, while the oth­er is mar­ket­ed towards the white girl ver­sion that miley did. They are 2 dif­fer­ent dances. Kelz putting up a video of her class is great and it looks amaz­ing, but I don’t think she should have put out on social media the con­tin­ued con­tent of mes­sages and videos. Once you do put things out there and they neg­a­tive­ly impact some­one, you are respon­si­ble for start­ing the ball rolling… Read more »
Bitchard Pryor
She’s such a sad sil­ly child. Peo­ple call­ing her out on HER racism is not some­how racism itself. I’m sor­ry but the bot­tom line is that she’s cul­tur­al­ly appro­pri­at­ed a dance that doesn’t belong to her and tried to shut out a black wom­an who does it FAR bet­ter than her by being insult­ing and dis­mis­sive. And yet she some­how fail to under­stand the back­lash she’s get­ting? White Priv­i­lege 101. She called Kelechi’s style basic but com­pared to Kelechi’s hers looks stiff, robot­ic, and over-rehearsed. There’s noth­ing nat­u­ral-look­ing about her rhythm. She’s whin­ing and cry­ing because SHE made peo­ple jus­ti­fi­ably… Read more »
Afro Goddess

So, check this out:

OK, guys—it’s time to break out your copies of “Black Looks: Race and Rep­re­sen­ta­tion” by the cul­tur­al crit­ic bell hooks .‘Cause cul­tur­al mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion and thiev­ery attracts the oppo­si­tion­al gaze. Mean­while, enjoy the short vid: Kelechi is in great com­pa­ny—

Mwatuangi

You can­not talk about Twerk­ing in Nawl­ins Bounce music and not men­tion Cheeky Blakk, the Queen of Twerk­ing.

Rose

I have lost faith in the exis­tence of decen­cy and self-aware­ness among whites as a col­lec­tive. There are only a very small hand­ful of them with any cul­tur­al aware­ness and sen­si­tiv­i­ty. I find that those peo­ple tend to be among the artis­tic, cre­ative, and spir­i­tu­al com­mu­ni­ties. Any­where else, for­get it. Obvi­ous­ly, to the white dance stu­dio, twerk is not a cul­tur­al­ly sig­nif­i­cant dance, it is a “trend” and thus it is a com­mod­i­fi­able thing that is not sig­nif­i­cant beyond its abil­i­ty to be turned into wealth.

Afro Goddess
The dance world, includ­ing for ordi­nary wom­en; is filled with hate­ful, crazy, jeal­ous, com­pet­i­tive kooks who all seem to feel they have a per­son­al stake in EXCLUDING/intimidating you. Most of the teach­ers are uncool with numer­ous weird agen­das they feel they can impose on the seek­er. Jeal­ousy and sab­o­tage is their busi­ness mod­el. The vul­gar lit­tle gals dry-hump­ing the floor are there to learn some MORE corny-assed bed­room moves—they do not fool me because their inten­tion is too obvi­ous, not to men­tion the blub­bery cel­lulite. C’mon—this is real low-rent stuff. The­se fools ALWAYS appro­pri­ate Black cul­ture while giv­ing cred­it to… Read more »
maralondon

Get even deep­er into Black dance and how it’s con­nect­ed to it’s orig­i­na­tors. Only teach it to peo­ple who RESPECT that dynamic.And if they don’t qualify—send ‘em over to miz boody-butt—then they can all whine togeth­er about their fake “reverse dis­crim­i­na­tion.”
Total­ly agree with you.

cryssi

Body Bar­re looked like pen­guins hav­ing a seizure and sex at the same d*mn time, lol.

Tom Whitbread

just pen­guins try­ing to stand up or some­thing.. cringe up

Barry B

Baha­ha­ha­ha­hah­ha­hah!!! This com­ment had me Rollin!

Philly Jawn

They can have twerk­ing its not a badge of hon­or

Kaybay

I would say that they have noth­ing that they didn’t invent! Whether it’s seen as small or insignif­i­cant, it all adds up. ‘Our ting’ should remain that way oth­er­wise we’ll have noth­ing left! Our his­to­ry, civil­i­sa­tions, inven­tions were stolen/whitewashed, now it’s hap­pen­ing to our cul­ture.

Camille

I’m glad she shared that because that video was hilar­i­ous. That they called HER basic made what­ev­er “moves” they thought they were doing that much more awk­ward and hilar­i­ous. Cul­tur­al appro­pri­a­tion is annoy­ing, but I don’t real­ly con­sid­er it a threat because they can NEVER real­ly hit the mark. Just because oth­er white peo­ple think some­thing is great doesn’t make it so. We all know an unau­tho­rized imi­ta­tion when we see one.

clever_moniker

20% of it was hair flip­ping, but they are still the ones with the stu­dio mak­ing mon­ey off Kelechi’s craft. When twerk­ing it out, they’ll be on to the next “crazy style.” It’s a for­mu­laic script.

FedUp

Her twerk­ing is any­thing but basic, in fact it might be too much for them! Hell it’s too much for me! :) re THEIR advanced class­es, I dun­no what that was… I hope Kelechi is able to get new clients and do well for her­self.

MyFluffyPuffs

For real though this Body Bar­re stu­dio is low key racist and intim­i­dat­ed by Kelechis. First they cred­it Han­na Mon­tana for the “dance” and call Kelechis style basic ?. Twerk­ing been around down south way before 1993 or main­stream picked it up.

La Bella Bre'

Yep, I grew up and still live in the South and Black wom­en have been twerk­ing in juke (jook) joints since slave days and right around Reformation…that’s where the jook joints come from. Even a scene in “The Col­or Pur­ple” details that life. :)

brownstocking

Not even low key. Straight out racist and basic as hell, to boot.

shimarella

wooooooowwww

Nicole

I won­der if this has helped her get more busi­ness since. Miley Cyrus did not invent this, but brought it to light. Kelechi, pret­ty name that does not need a ques­tion mark upon ref­er­ence, was great to point out that woman’s rude­ness. There was a lesson to learn and that woman’s anger is only her being defi­ant while peo­ple are try­ing to edu­cate her on the real­i­ty of mis­ap­pro­pri­a­tion of black cul­ture.

Elle P.

Smh.…
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Camille

A metaphor for pop music lol. White Amer­i­ca loves their blonde Ital­ian girls doing black music.

Lolalao

It puz­zles me why their Eth­nic Group always fol­lows us and not oth­er groups.

Camille

Lady Gaga, Madon­na, Gwen Ste­fani. I think they pull it off a lit­tle bet­ter than ones from puri­tan cul­tures.

Lolalao

Yep

Yurilyte

Things like THIS are why cul­tur­al appro­pri­a­tion is prob­lem­at­ic. Dis­miss it ‘appre­ci­a­tion’ all you want until you’re being blocked from claim­ing some­thing that orig­i­nat­ed in your cul­ture. What’s next? A white wom­an is going to open up a braid­ing salon and only hire white braiders while call­ing a black braider’s styles basic. Watch…

Camille

I am SURE that is hap­pen­ing some­where as we speak.

Claudette UK

It is in the UK

Sonya Spencer

Already hap­pened. Remem­ber: Marc Jacobs invent­ed the Ban­tu knot.

Elle P.

Yep, he called them ‘mini buns!’ Smh…

Lolalao

Bo Derek invent­ed cornrows…smh.

KekeBee

Besides my per­son­al opin­ions over twerk­ing, that video of the white owned “twerk­ing” stu­dio was hilar­i­ous. Just because you’re doing the most does not mean that what­ev­er you are doing is good and that Kelechi’s twerk­ing is “basic”.

Talia
Wow. White peo­ple can be, quite lit­er­al­ly, the absolute worst. My girl friends and I were laugh­ing about this fool­ish­ness when the whole Miley thing was hap­pen­ing, rem­i­nisc­ing on twerk­ing at 7th/8th grade dances back in the late 90s to DJ Jubilee. I wouldn’t mind white peo­ple get­ting in on OUR fun if they would just rec­og­nize where it came from and stop act­ing like they invent­ed shit. But, let’s be real, they’ve been doing that for cen­turies so why should we even think it’s going to stop… But WTF at them call­ing her style basic when their twerk­ing video shows… Read more »
DilemmaBlack

The­se white girls done lost they damn mind and I blame black men!!!

Degustibus non

Me too, self hat­ing bro’s who think that by sleep­ing with white wom­en means they are “some­one” I dance an African dance Kizom­ba and we have all the­se nasty white wom­en who can’t move their hips, can’t keep a beat teach­ing Kizom­ba TEACHING. I can’t bring mysef to look at them. At the legit work­shops all the­se self hat­ing broth­ers grind­ing and being nasty with white wom­en, instead of just danc­ing. I’ve stopped going it’s gross.

wrist wrist

why blame us as whole? i have noth­ing to do with it and im a black man

yuck

haha­ha

KnowbodyXXX

You’re right. We did gas up the­se basic white chicks with our self hate but i’m going to help fix this.

lis

.….….….….…dead.….….…# the truth..

Ennui

LOL

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