Oxford Dictionaries Online says it’s a verb that means “to dance to popular music in a sexually provocative manner involving thrusting hip movements and a low, squatting stance.”
Wikipedia calls it “a type of dancing in which the dancer, usually a woman, shakes her hips in an up-and-down bouncing motion, causing the dancer’s buttocks to shake, wobble and jiggle.”
Geekosystem.com describes it simply as “the action of shaking your butt up and down real fast.”
However you define it, “twerk” is the word of the year. Or until a new word of the year comes along next week.
The concept of dancing in a sexually provocative manner is hardly new. In my early years, when most dance music was played on accordions, there was something called the “dirty boogie.” I never learned how to do it, but I wish I had because I know it would have driven my parents crazy.
Succeeding generations of dancers responded to calls to jitterbug, frug and “shake your booty.”
And, for the record, “twerk” isn’t even a new word. It’s been around for 20 years, ever since someone named DJ Jubilee recorded a song that included the lyrics, “Twerk baby, twerk baby, twerk, twerk, twerk.”
Sadly, music lovers back then failed to appreciate the beauty of the lyrics and the word gradually languished in pop obscurity — until a performer named Miley Cyrus twerked all the way to the bank by causing her buttocks to shake, wobble and jiggle on the MTV Music Video Awards show in late last month.
Since then, twerking has become all the rage, and just about everyone recognizes it when they see it, even if they can’t define it.
For young twerkers, that’s not necessarily a good development. It’s probably only a matter of time until twerking is added to the disciplines on “Dancing With the Stars” and twerking lessons are available at Arthur Murray studios. I’m sure they live in fear of going to a wedding reception and seeing grandma on the dance floor shaking her butt up and down real fast. Which is not something anyone wants to see, not even grandpa.
Inevitably, there has been an anti-twerking backlash. Thirty-three students at a high school in San Diego were suspended after a YouTube video showed them twerking while standing on their heads.
No matter how you feel about shaking your butt up and down real fast, you’ve got to be impressed by anyone who can do that while standing on their heads.
Besides, I don’t think all that hip thrusting and butt shaking will do any serious damage to this generation. At least not until it reaches its 40s and starts dealing with sacroiliac issues.