Dude, I’m not here to twerk for you


Friday night was one of those spectacular Texas spring evenings that seem almost unreal, temperate and golden. I made it to Euphoria Fest around 6 p.m. and Carson Creek Ranch was nothing short of glorious. I was collecting video clips and images for a sights and sounds scene report, and I wandered over to the Dragonfly Stage where Eric Dingus was performing.

Full disclosure: I’m not a huge fan of trap music. I appreciated the intensity of Dingus’ 2016 album “Stack or Starve,” but overall, it struck me as one note, monotonous. Sometimes it’s the live set that sells the sound, though, and I walked in with an open mind.

That particular corner of Carson Creek Ranch is a natural riverbank amphitheater, built into a hill with the stage set in front of the water. It’s one of the prettiest places to see music in town, and on that night it was positively idyllic. And there was Dingus doing his moody Percocet-at-the-strip-club beats while rapper Do Wrong walked around the stage chanting “Twerk, twerk, twerk.”

I’d say he was playing hype man, but there was nothing particularly hype going on. Just a bunch of folks chilling on the hill, blissed out in the setting sun, while old dude repeated the word “twerk.”

The contrast between the pastoral setting and the strip club vibe struck me as funny, so I moved in closer to line up a video clip with the river in the background. I was posting shots to the Austin360 Instagram and there was social media gold in there somewhere.

But as I stepped forward, the rapper addressed me from the stage. “You can’t come up here to take a picture unless you twerk,” he said.

I froze, dropped my camera phone and glared at him. Surely this fool wasn’t serious. Ignoring the fact that I clearly wasn’t game, he doubled down. “Twerk, twerk,” he chanted at me. Was he trying to get other people to chant, too? He thought it was hilarious.

Meanwhile, I was trying to wrap my head around the fact that this was actually happening. I’ve worked for the Statesman for 13 years and as a full time music writer for three and a half. I’m also a working mother. My days start very early and they tend to run long. At any given moment there are no less than 50 emails from local artists asking for coverage in my overstuffed inbox.

Exasperated, I threw a middle finger in the air and walked off. “Aw, give it up for the girl who didn’t twerk,” he laughed. A few people probably clapped. I don’t really remember.

My hands were shaking and my face felt hot as I walked away. It’s that kind of fury that’s hard to explain. Music writing is a field that’s dominated by men. Of course I have war stories about the men who tried to dismiss me, the ones who jacked my ideas and the ones who actively tried to take me down, but I’ve had way more triumphs than defeats, and that wasn’t what I was thinking about.

Two years ago, I covered J.Cole’s show at Austin360 Amphitheater. One of the openers was YG, a rapper who’s never impressed me. I showed up at the very end of his set.

“I want somebody to show me some titties,” he was saying from the stage when I walked in. No one took the bait, so he went in on the young women in the front row. “How you gonna come all the way up here to the front and not show your titties,” he said to them.

I was horrified. J. Cole is a sensitive dude who raps about his relationships with women in a way that’s much more evolved than a lot of rappers. He’s intelligent, lyrical and kind of dreamy. Consequently, he has a strong female fan base.

So here were these women, who probably staked out their front row spots early for J.Cole, because that’s music that actually means something to them, and this opening act was berating them because they didn’t want to take off their shirts. In an arena of 13,000 people. They probably had hundreds of hopeful dudes with camera phones pointed at them.

The thing that was striking was not the crudeness but the audacity. Somehow, this idiot didn’t think that it was on him to bring so much heat that women wanted to rip off their clothes. Instead, he felt that the fact that he was holding a microphone entitled him to see their stuff. Just like the dude at Euphoria who thought I should twerk on demand, when there was literally nothing about that set that would make a lady want to move.

Who promised y’all twerking and titties?

It’s up to you to earn that.

If you want people to shake their asses at your show, that’s on you. Remember when Andre said, “If you don’t move your feet then I don’t eat”? Meditate on that. Work on your energy. Turn up your own vibe. Learn to read your crowd. Go harder.

But don’t assume any women who strays too close to the front wants to be the prop that gives your boring stage show some life. Harassing a woman to get some booty shaking is just lame. And kind of pathetic. You’re, ahem, doing it wrong.

Author: Deborah Sengupta Stith

Deborah Sengupta Stith has been hanging out in dimly lit corners of the city soaking in the music scene for almost 20 years. Twitter: @deborific

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