By:Donte Chase Bridges
Jay-Z once said, “Earth is turning soul-searching in search of higher learning turning in every direction seeking to direction.” These lyrics accurately describe the state of Chicago’s Urban Youth. It’s no secret that the crime rate in Chicago’s urban communities is disproportionate to the rest of the United States. Some people believe that stricter laws will curb the violence committed by Chicago Youth; others believe increasing the time in school will take away idle moments that adolescents may spend being naturally mischievous. However, what if their was a way to allow teenagers to express their individuality in a productive and creative way, while keeping the youth off the streets and in productive avenues. I think we may have to answer.
Chicago is known to be one of the most diverse cities in the United States. One of the long-lasting sub-cultures is the Chicago dance scene, specifically, Chicago’s Foot working Culture. This rhythmic, fast-pace, and intricate style has influenced the city’s youth in not only dance, but as a creative outlet that pushes self-expression, as well community. I spoke with one of Chicago’s Ambassadors of Footwork, Troy Simpson, who gave me a brief history and some insight on why this underground dance scene can save a lot of the Urban Youth of today.
“I know that footwork kept me off the streets and gave me something creative to do with my time instead of doing dumb things. Foot working is still the essence, and still an art form, and still something that comes from the streets. It can save a life or two,” replied Simpson.
Speaking to him, Simpson suggested that Foot working is not only an outlet for creative expression, but a way to preserve history, style, and heritage of the youth, before it becomes to mainstream.
Because I’ve seen pioneers of Foot Work like Ant Brown coming up, it taught me to appreciate Foot Working…It can teach the young kids coming up about their history and what it means to be a part of a community, you can see some people coming over from other countries trying to take the style. We need to keep the culture here with the youth.
Simpson also elaborated on what it meant to learn Foot Working in regards to life skills.
“People like, Ant Brown taught me how to take the craft seriously. I learned how to slow down and understand what I’m doing. It gave me technique and help me with attention to detail.”
It is important to understand that some aspects of Education reform and Criminal Justice may be missing the mark with steering the youth of Chicago in the right direction. Troy Simpson is only a microcosm of what a concrete culture, creative expression, and true history can do for a young teenager growing up without direction. It’s important to understand that the Foot Working Culture may have a shot in preserving our youth future, while giving them a skillset that can generate revenue for their future. Besides, who doesn’t love to dance.
Here is a pic of Troy Simpson, who I interviewed: