“In those early days on Soul Train, waacking– an improvised dance done to the beat of disco that included martial arts elements, fast arm motions, postures and a popular mindset– was starting to go mainstream. As a straight Asian female, Song had little in common with waackings LGBTQ+ origins, it being an unapologetic dance born from oppression. When I dance waacking, I am commemorating myselfWhatever it looks like, waacking is a form of escapism and a defiant counterclaim of conservative standards that is well fit to Asia, where LGBTQ+ rights are not what they are in the west. When I dance waacking, I am celebrating myself and people like me. If you browse YouTube for waacking, youll discover a wide variety of battles at festivals such as Supernova, Cest la Waack, Waackers Night and the All Asia Waacking festival, which were founded in the early 00s.
DanceBorn in the gay clubs of LA, waacking was popularised by the TV program Soul Train and got by John Travolta and Donna Summer. Now its an LGBTQ+ hit across AsiaEmma RussellTue 13 Jul 2021 15.00 BSTWhen Cheryl Song stepped on to the all-black set of Soul Train in 1976, she was met a deathly silence that was followed by a couple of hazards, then a lady snarling: “Who does that high yellow bitch believe she is?” 2 pals from school had brought Song along to Don Corneliuss groundbreaking TV program as something of a prank, presuming that she wouldnt be chosen since of her Asian heritage. But Song– “the Asian lady with the long hair”– went on to dance on the show for 14 years. “No matter what colour you are,” she says, “youre simply there to dance and have enjoyable.”In those early days on Soul Train, waacking– an improvised dance done to the beat of disco that included martial arts components, quick arm movements, positions and a popular mindset– was beginning to go mainstream. As a straight Asian female, Song had little in common with waackings LGBTQ+ origins, it being an unapologetic dance born from injustice. But she loved it nevertheless. “It was direct, it was a strong movement and it was significant,” she says.Pioneered by an outfit called the Outrageous Waack Dancers– Tyrone Proctor, Jeffrey Daniel, Jody Watley, Sharon Hill, Cleveland Moses Jr and Kirt Washington– waacking made its way on to the program from the black and Latino gay clubs of Los Angeles. Soon John Travolta was imitating its moves in Saturday Night Fever, while Donna Summer and Cicely Tyson performed them on stage.Lets waack … Cheryl Song joins Marvin Gaye onstage for a performance on Soul Train. Photograph: Soul Train/Getty ImagesBut by the late 1980s, as the disco period pertained to an end and Aids ravaged the queer neighborhood, waacking all but vanished from pop culture. That is, up until the early 2000s, when it saw a not likely revival thanks to “the daddy of waacking” Proctor, who died in 2015, and his mentee Princess Lockerooo. They travelled the world leading workshops and judging competitions. In Asia, it truly captured on.Nelson George, author of The Hippest Trip in America: Soul Train and the Evolution of Culture and Style, thinks the dance changed from a full-body affair to a waist-up one since Proctor had damaged his hips from years of dancing and started to teach it differently. In places like Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan and Korea, quick hand and arm motions predominate. Its like living in peoples shadow when I dance other designs. When I dance waacking, I am celebrating myselfWhatever it appears like, waacking is a form of escapism and a defiant rebuttal of conservative standards that is well suited to Asia, where LGBTQ+ rights are not what they are in the west. “The power of waacking comes from the pressure,” states Taiwanese waacker Akuma. Its danced by people who have to conceal their real selves in their lives, so when they have the chance to be themselves in the club, “the energy explodes”. Hong Kong waacker Ryan keeps his sexuality hidden from the school where he teaches for worry of bring in homophobic slurs. Waacking offers him a way to explore his sexuality in a city where gay marriage still isnt acknowledged. “In life, lots of things arent under your control,” he says. “Theres not much leeway for you to reveal who you are due to the fact that you are expected to satisfy specific roles. But in a club or in a cypher session, I can genuinely be myself, as sexy or feminine as I wish to be, without judgment from others.”The daddy of waacking … Tyrone Proctor on Bandstand with Sharon Hill. Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Walt Disney Television/Getty ImagesThrough easy, dynamic postures and arm drills, waackers concentrate on rhythm and discovering a style to display their character. “When I dance other designs,” states Akuma, “its like residing in individualss shadow. I am commemorating myself and individuals like me when I dance waacking. In Asia, moms tell girls: You have to be a lady and you have to be respectful. And daddies inform young boys: You have to be a male, you can not weep or reveal your vulnerable face to the general public.”The sense of empowerment at waackings core resonates with cisgender females in Taiwan, South Korea and Japan, too. Chrissy Chou, Maya Chou, Monika Shin, Lip J and Ibuki Imata have amassed countless fans on Instagram with their strong poses and attitudes. If you search YouTube for waacking, youll discover a plethora of battles at celebrations such as Supernova, Cest la Waack, Waackers Night and the All Asia Waacking festival, which were established in the early 00s. Waacking has also broken complimentary from the shackles of disco, having motivated the choreography of such K-pop function as Chungha, Kara, Gugudan Oguogu and Twice. “Waacking and locking emerged from gay culture at a time when people required to conceal their sexuality and character,” says Yoon Ji, a waacker from Seoul. “They did not hesitate dancing to disco music. Now its 2021– but we still really wish to reveal ourselves.” bottomLeft bottomRight #goalExceededMarkerPercentage goalExceededMarkerPercentage #paragraphs We will be in touch to remind you to contribute. Watch out for a message in your inbox in August 2021. If you have any questions about contributing, please contact us.