An American in Durham: Dancing the Night Away
On Thursday night, I hit the town, the town of Newcastle if we’re getting specific, on the St. Aidan’s club crawl night. As I danced the night away—sorry for the clichéd phrase—I couldn’t help but sigh a little as I remembered my high school dances in Cleveland. The wave of heat coming off the dance floor, giant sweat stains on homecoming suits and dresses, the aroma of body odour, vanilla body spray and axe infiltrating my nose while the bass-induced music pressed upon my ears. The experience is something similar to a Sauna at a spa. You enter out into the night, relishing the cool air, grateful for regular lighting and the high-pitched voices of your friends after listening to an exaggerated bass line for hours.
At the end of Newcastle night however, I felt like my brain had been put into a blender filled with techno music and puréed till it reached the bright neon pigment of a strobe light. Certain ligaments were also exhausted while others had gone un-used. I found I was only dancing with my arms, doing the robot way too much. There are so many ways to dance in Cleveland, there’s a workout for each core muscle group: you’ve got your legs with the dougie, jerk, stanky leg and soulja boy, arms on single ladies and every punk song that involves fist banging. Your core is used the rest of time, because every other song besides these listed, involves grinding, whether in a chain of your best friends, with a guy or an imaginary person, which was usually my choice, as I have a very individualistic rhythm and most people just can’t keep up with me.
Right. On to the reason why I started writing this in the first place: rap.
Even if American rap music can be derogatory of women, I love it. I am a very good rapper. I’ve often told adults, when bored answering the same questions about what I intend to do with my English degree, that I want to pursue a PhD, in rap, because, in my view, it is the sonnet of our generation. Which is true; no one thought Donne or Shakespeare had clean material and obviously, nor do rappers. Artists such as Kid Cudi and Eminem even take rap beyond the scene of American nightclubs and materialism to address issues of poverty and gangs in urban America. Coming from Cleveland, the poorest city in the United States, I’m often touched by their songs, even though people complain of them sounding rough and depicting violence.
I’ve found British rap to be quite similar to the first American rap of the 70s, like the Sugar Hill gang—energetic and upbeat. I’ve find it very cool that rap can blend with other music genres besides hip-hop, as it does with pop here in the UK. Call me chauvinistic, and rightly so, but I prefer my angry, emo, American rap to Tinie Tempah (why has your rap star named himself after a tofu product?) A good walk to Elvet Riverside is not complete without one listen to Machine Gun Kelly’s “Cleveland.” Just like a night out clubbing is not the same without mouthing all the words to a song by Nikki Minogue, and failing epically; because no one has skills like her.