Hit & Run: Barely there below the belt
Tuesday 02 June 2009
Of all the paradoxes of puberty, few are more peculiar than male pubic hair. For boys, hirsute genitalia are a marker of arrival into a sphere of masculinity that promises all the things childhood can't provide: strength, confidence, women. And yet, within days of their appearance, these hairs are defined by their very redundancy. The moment they spring forth, their possessors contemplate the possibility of a fur-free life. Not least because, according to men's magazines everwhere, depilation – "manscaping" – can trick the eye into thinking that a tiny acorn is instead a mighty oak. So the introduction of the Norelco Bodygroom from Philips will be welcomed by many. Gliding across sensitive regions without irritating skin, it promises a streamline undercarriage without a world of hot wax and beauty salons. Gillette and Wilkinson will soon join this flight to pubic liberty, helping confirm what boys have known for years: a bare scrotum really is the best a man can get.
Let their feet do the talking
Do you know your pops from your locks? Can you tell the difference between a Clown and a Krump? Now that Diversity has won Britain's Got Talent, street dance will be the talk of the town, so it's time to learn some terms so as not to sound stupid at your next dinner party.
Sadler's Wells in north London hosts the annual Breakin' Convention hip-hop festival, and has seen 120 per cent more street dancers apply to its May 2009 event than in 2008. They expect Diversity's triumph to encourage even more prospective participants.
"Street dance is the umbrella term for many aspects of hip-hop dance," says choreographer Hakeem Onibudo, founder of the Impact Dance company, which performs regularly at Breakin' Convention. "Hip-hop is not a dance, it's a culture with many different aspects: DJing, graffiti, turntablism, the dress and the dance styles. People rarely practice one specific style of hip-hop dance. They'll do bits of this and bits of that, all incorporated under the title of street dance."
To its practitioners and fans, hip-hop dance is as important an art form as hip-hop music. And, warns Onibudo, "To learn a proper A-Z of hip-hop dance, you'd need to attend a seminar every week for the next few years." But here, nonetheless, is Hit & Run's bluffers' guide to get you through the week.
Rocking: First practised in Brooklyn during the late 1960s, Rocking, "Uprock" or "Toprock" is the most straightforward element of B-Boy, or breakdancing, the quick, vertical steps that build momentum for "downrock" and power moves (see B-Boying, below).
B-boying: The broad streetdance strand of B-boying is commonly known as breakdancing. Its standard subcategories are toprock/uprock, leading to downrock (more demanding steps using both hands and feet), power moves (the more spectacular, momentum-driven acrobatic moves such as the "windmill") and, finally, freezes (a sudden freeze, frequently in a physically improbable position).
Popping: This style originated in California in the 1970s. Flexing isolated elements of their body in jerking movements, "poppers" like young Aidan Davis, also a BGT finalist, produce illusionary dance effects such as the robot, and floating – made famous beyond B-boy culture by Michael Jackson's moonwalk.
Locking: Exaggerated movement of the limbs, punctuated with brief freezes or locks, Locking is traditionally favoured by funk aficionados.
Jacking: The movement of the torso in a rippling motion that imitates a wave, Jacking has its origins in disco and is the foundational move for the broad "house" dance style, whose affiliates elaborate the torso "jack" with complex footwork.
Krumping: Krump – the style appropriated by Madonna in the video for her 2005 single Hung Up – stands for "Kingdom of Radically Uplifted Mighty Praise". An energetic style of street dance, it was invented to express and dispel negative emotions. The krumping and "clowning" dance movements of LA were documented by photographer David LaChappelle in his documentary, Rize. Tim Walker
The real seat of girl power
"We are political with a little 'p'" says Fay Mansell, Chair of the National Federation of Women's Institutes. Perhaps – but the WI is prominent with a capital 'P', and set to make waves again with its annual general meeting on Wednesday. On the agenda is new research into domestic violence in rural areas and a proposal to save the honeybee. An odd combination, but one befitting an organisation whose membership runs the gamut from trendy Shoreditch types to grey-haired grannies. With the first student-only WI opening up at London's Goldsmith's College earlier this year, and membership enquiries from the under 30s at a record high, one might think that the blue rinse brigade are being edged out of an organisation that was once their domain. "I hope not. The glory of the WI is that it is for people of all ages" said Ms Mansell. Membership of the organisation peaked just after the Second World War, suggesting that when the going gets tough, the girls get down to the WI. So as long as the economic gloom continues, perhaps we should brace ourselves to hear more from the women of the WI. Rachel Shields
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