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Detroit's Dance: The Jit

Growing up, I was never that great a dancer. I mean, I could get around the floor well enough at house parties, and, when break-dancing became popular, I actually learned enough not to get laughed off of the linoleum. But in Detroit, particularly on the east side, you weren't ever thought of as a great dancer unless you had mastered the one dance we all held dear: The Jit. (h/t to Deanna Dunham for the amazing historical narrative.)

Marked by spins, leaps, and, most importantly, hyperkinetic footwork, the Jit is easily the most popular dance ever to originate in this city, as much a signature of our local urban culture as "stepping" in Chicago, break-dancing in NY and "pop locking" in California. (Chicago also has its own native footwork-oriented dance style, known as "juking," and this has led to some heated debate about which dance form is better. I love the Chi, but I think y'all know where I stand on this one.)

Unlike some of those other dances, though, the Jit is as hot today as it ever was. Sure, you might think that a dance that's nearly 40 years old — and with roots that stretch from 1930s Cab Calloway-style jitterbugging right on through Detroit's deadly 1970s gang wars — would've played out somewhere along the way. But not the Jit. Not in Detroit. From the days when George Clinton and the Parliament laid down P-funk grooves at Detroit's United Sound Studio to the local techno explosion in the '80s and '90s to hip-hop today, the Jit has not only endured, but thrived, its popularity spread around the country and globe by successive generations of fleet-footed ambassadors.

So how to do the Jit? Again, I'm nobody's dancer, so I think it's best if I let one of the city's premiere dance kings (even BET recognized him for his skills) show you. Here then, Brandon "Jitting Jesus" Hobbs, part of Detroit's awesome "Incredibles" dance crew, going hard...

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