How do you juke dance

Fancy footwork: how Chicago's juke scene found its feet again | Dance music

It’s been nearly five years since Planet Mu’s Mike Paradinas compiled Bangs & Works, plucking his favourite footwork tracks from Chicago’s South Side via YouTube for worldwide appreciation. Footwork music and the competitive dancing with which it’s intertwined seem alien compared to the city’s other musical exports such as house and the hip-hop of Kanye West. The genre grew from speedy, repetitive ghetto house in the late 1990s and early 2000s, yet it also borrows from drum’n’bass with its double-time clave triplets, syncopated toms and huge sub-bass.

RP Boo (aka 43-year-old Kavain Space) is credited as footwork’s pioneer. In April, Planet Mu released Classics Vol 1, a compilation including many of Boo’s earliest recordings, including Baby Come On from 1997. Hot on its heels comes Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints, which mixes his nascent footwork with new material.

Fancy footwork: RP Boo in full flow. Photograph: William Glasspiegel

“It packs good energy,” says Boo, as we sit under the vaulted ceiling of the Chicago Cultural Center, a 19th-century beaux-arts library downtown. Paradinas discovered some of the album tracks in Boo’s online mixes, choosing ones that were especially battle-oriented.

“That’s what was kind of missing in previous footwork albums,” Boo explains. “The battles and the intensity and the energy that he [Paradinas] felt, so that’s what we’re trying to target now.” On Finish Line D’jayz, the taunt “Mother-fuck your favorite DJ!” loops as intricate drum patterns shift. Asked if he’s calling anyone out or merely seeking to inspire dancers, Boo replies: “It’s a tactic to get them fired up. That’s the whole purpose. This is about them listening and becoming a part of it. Back years ago, they used to do diss tracks, but for me to do a diss track you would have to do something that was out of the ordinary for me to just come at you.”

Since leaving a job at the home-improvement store Lowe’s just two years ago, RP Boo has been touring the world, spinning in the UK, Japan, Poland, Spain, Denmark and the Netherlands. “The scene has made a shift change. It got quiet in Chicago, but it grew tremendously outside of Chicago and worldwide,” says Boo.

Nowadays Boo gets inspiration from more than just dancers. “I get more of my inspiration by listening to music … because I know where the dancers [are] at right now,” says Boo. “It’s not about the battles no more. They want to be on stage to showcase, so it’s all about what can I bring and give new to them, because they’re fast learners now.”

RP Boo is encouraged by footwork’s worldwide appeal. “When I seen it coming from Poland, that was amazing,” he enthuses. Boo’s vision of the future is “seeing more people worldwide getting out and being able to stand in the middle of the crowd and just jump up and down, but then hit that switch at any given moment and bust a footwork move and have it down pat, then jump back out and enjoy the music”.

But the scene was dealt a huge blow when arguably its most recognisable figure – DJ Rashad – died suddenly at the age of 34 in April 2014, six months after releasing his critically acclaimed album Double Cup for Hyperdub. DJ Taye says Rashad’s death left a void. “The void is there, but it just feels timeless,” he said. “I just feel like he will just be here forever, his soul will be here forever.” Rashad’s presence in the scene is still felt, so much so that everyone speaks about him in the present tense.

Thirty-three revolutions per minute: DJ Spinn. Photograph: Ashes57

Childhood friend DJ Spinn, who, with Rashad, was one of the Teklife crew’s founding members, is working on his first album now. I met Spinn in the lobby of an apartment building near the University of Chicago. Asked if he feels any pressure to change his music to appeal to a European audience, Spinn explains: “I’ve got more pressure making an album better than Double Cup. I don’t even want to think about it in that fashion, but me and Rashad know that’s just how it goes, we’ve got to make albums better than our last project.”

It’s a big gumbo pot of music right now, and that’s what’s real interesting about everything and the future
DJ Spinn

“Right now I feel there’s really no genres,” Spinn elaborates. “Everything’s blending with each other – hip-hop and dance music and EDM and funk and R&B – it’s a big gumbo pot of music right now, and that’s what’s real interesting about everything and the future of what we’re going to do.”

An R&B collaboration between Jessy Lanza, DJ Spinn and Taso, You Never Show Your Love, is due out on Hyperdub in late July, followed by a new EP, Off That Loud, in September. Spinn describes the latter as “Four little joints from me, Rashad and Danny Brown – a ‘Dubby’ joint, that’s a big one right now for us. I’ve got just some classic footwork on there and some trappy, chanty stuff – just some party stuff.”

Spinn’s work-in-progress album for Hyperdub is tentatively titled 420 Vision. Asked for his inspiration, Spinn laughs: “[It’s] all about medicinal, recreational and being positive. It’s really about positivity, though. My vision is that I see in a different way now from before because I ain’t tripping off of the old stuff and all of the demons.

The demons he’s referring to are the violence that has made Chicago a city known more for its high rate of gang violence and murders than its rich musical history.

“We want to get our city out of the negative light,” says Spinn. “So much negative light is being shone. There’s positive light, too, and we want people to see that. It’s crazy in the streets, but if you stay determined, you stay consistent, and you stay positive, anything can happen. You can make it out of any situation.”

As DJ Spinn continues to build Teklife’s legacy, he feels it’s important to give back to the scene. “It’s all about us helping each other get to that next step. If we make those opportunities for us, I feel we could definitely spread that out, and we could see a bigger re-emergence of the scene in Chicago, like on some Beat Street-type stuff,” Spinn explains. “That’s what I want to see … footwork crews. I want more DJs, I want more producers to be out here.”

DJ Taye, Teklife’s youngest member. Photograph: Matthew Aviginone/Hyperdub

At 20, DJ Taye is the youngest member of Teklife. He began making rap beats at the age of 12, then began dancing and composing footwork at the age of 14. At 16, he tested out his music at a Ghettoteknitianz battle and was invited by Spinn and Rashad to join what would later become Teklife. Taye self-released over 60 tracks on Bandcamp before signing to Hyperdub. His first EP, Break It Down, is due out in September.

I Skyped with Taye while he was touring in Belgrade with Serbian Teklife members Jackie Dagger and Feloneezy, holding his phone selfie-style in what appeared to be a surreally creepy hotel corridor. When Taye first heard footwork, he was surprised it wasn’t bigger in Chicago. “Why is this music not mainstream, why is it not being showcased?” Taye asked. “It’s just so unique. I’ve never heard anything like it once I heard tracks.”

Most Chicago youths Taye’s age see footwork as the past, preferring to listen to drill music or pop radio. “It just seems like Chicago is the only place that’s not really trying to embrace it,” Taye admits.

Jlin (27-year-old Jerrilynn Patton) is one of footwork’s emerging talents. She was born and raised in Gary, Indiana, about 30 miles from downtown Chicago. For the past three years she’s had a day job in portable annealing, driving a tractor at a steel mill.

While Jlin grew up listening to jazz, R&B and classical music at home, she was drawn to footwork online in the early 2000s. “MySpace helped a lot, and [social media streaming site] Imeem at that time, because people were uploading the tracks that you could listen to,” she recalls. She also watched online videos from Wala Cam. “They were displaying and showcasing and battling … It was like a soap opera for me.”

Asked what initially appealed to her about footwork, Jlin immediately responds: “The music and the matching of the movement – how well-synced it was. It’s almost like the interchanging of two energies, the dance and the sound, the frequency and vibration. Just constant exchange, constant exchange.”

It’s like distant family coming together to find out now who you are

Before long Jlin began crafting her own tracks, drawing on a wide variety of influences. The first composition on her recent album Dark Energy for Planet Mu was inspired by an entire day watching Alvin Ailey performances. “I studied the way they moved, everything. I just looked, and then the next day Black Ballet started coming together, started forming,” she explains. “It started making sense.”

The process of putting the album together involved trial and error, but especially risk. “Failing is important. You have to fail. A lot of people, they look at you where you are. So many people want that instant gratification of what they think success is, but in actuality, your failure is more important than your success,” Jlin reveals. “I know it’s going to sound really, really crazy, but I have this analogy of jumping off of a cliff, of not being afraid to jump, but you voluntarily take a leap, not knowing what the outcome is … I am in complete freefall right now.

Late last year, Jlin’s music provided the soundtrack for a Rick Owens’s fashion show in Paris. In August she makes her debut as a live proposition at MoMA PS1 in New York City, then in October she is off to the Unsound Festival in Kraków, Poland.

Jlin isn’t surprised by footwork’s success overseas. “It’s time for the arts to come together. It’s all very related. It got separated when you started categorising,” Jlin explains. “It’s like distant family coming together to find out now who you are.”

Like RP Boo, DJ Spinn, and DJ Taye, Jlin sees no sign of footwork slowing its progression. Asked if she thinks about dancers when she is composing, she admits, “It depends. I used to all of the time, but now sometimes that’s not even the focus … I really go for impact.” Footwork’s impact is being felt from Chicago to Belgrade.

  • RP Boo’s Fingers, Bank Pads & Shoe Prints is out now on Planet Mu; DJ Spinn, Taso and Jessy Lanza’s You Never Show Your Love is out 24 July on Hyperdub

definition of juke by The Free Dictionary


 1 also jook  (jo͞ok, jo͝ok)Southeastern US


A roadside or rural establishment offering liquor, dancing, and often gambling and prostitution. Also called juke house, juke joint.

intr.v.juked, juk·ing, jukes also jooked or jook·ing or jooks

1. To play dance music, especially in a juke.

2. To dance, especially in a juke or to the music of a jukebox.

[Probably from Gullah juke, joog, disorderly, wicked, of West African origin; akin to Wolof dzug, to live wickedly, and Bambara dzugu, wicked.]

Word History: Gullah, the English-based Creole language spoken by people of African ancestry off the coast of Georgia and South Carolina, retains a number of words from the West African languages brought over by slaves. One such word is juke, "bad, wicked, disorderly," the probable source of the English word juke. Used originally in Florida and then chiefly in the Southeastern states, juke (also appearing in the compound juke joint) was an African-American word meaning a roadside drinking establishment that offers cheap drinks, food, and music for dancing and often doubles as a brothel. "To juke" is to dance, particularly at a juke joint or to the music of a jukebox whose name, no longer regional and having lost the connotation of sleaziness, contains the same word.


 2  (jo͞ok) Football

v. juked, juk·ing, jukes

To deceive or outmaneuver (a defending opponent) by a feint; fake.


To deceive or outmaneuver a defender by a feint.


A feint or fake.

[Middle English jowken, to bend in a supple way.]

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language, Fifth Edition. Copyright © 2016 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.




a small roadside establishment that plays music and provides refreshments

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014



v. juked, juk•ing,
n. v.t.

1. to make a move intended to deceive (an opponent) in football.


2. a fake or feint usu. intended to deceive a defensive player.

[1425–75; orig. Scots jowk, late Middle English, probably alter. of Scots dook duck2]

Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary, © 2010 K Dictionaries Ltd. Copyright 2005, 1997, 1991 by Random House, Inc. All rights reserved.

I Watched You Dance lyrics Pharaoh

View all lyrics Pharaoh

I have nothing to forgive you for Maybe because you wanted
To be what it seemed to me-e
You will again choose silently-a-at
But your familiar smell
He's not here anymore (Ah)
Do you think I'm alone?
You are in the company of b*yadin
You are a beautiful boo-ol
will not help You're just a ve-e-eat for them (Oh-oh)0005 You are just a thing for them

But I will always remember how
I watched you dance right under the moon
(Ah, ooh, ah, ooh)
I couldn't break away even there with another
(Ah, ooh, ooh, ooh)

Do you think I'm like them all
I-I smoke the fifth
I want to dive
Right in this bitch right now
What will I lose in the morning
Girls, you are murderers
They stuff clubs
She found my lips (E)
I've been falling and I'm not afraid to fall one more time
I opened my heart wide open to you
But I didn’t know that you only had anfa-a-a-a-as

But I will always remember how
I watched you dance right under the moon
(Ah, ooh, ah, ooh)
I couldn't break away even there with another
(Ah, ooh, ooh, ooh)

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