Editor's Note: Writer Jessica A. Koslow is a USC master's student writing her thesis on krumping. Know Your L.A. Hip-Hop Dances explores some of the most popular street dances in our city.
Background: Supermodel Kate Upton does the Dougie. Michelle Obama does the Dougie. Even Justin Bieber does the Dougie.
The craze sprang from Inglewood group Cali Swag District's track “Teach Me How to Dougie,” which became an instant hit last year, going double platinum and getting ridiculous YouTube hits. Like a funky variation of the classic step-touch — with more attitude — the song's beat is lazy and catchy.
Though May of this year saw the tragic murder of the group's dancer M-Bone, it's fair to say that 2010 was the year of the Dougie. In America, at least. “We just got back from the Philippines and the club was packed and everyone knew how to do it,” says group member Smoove. “We had a Dougie contest. I was blown away by how good these people on the other side of the world knew how to do this dance.”
Still, its origin story is a bit complicated.
Origin: The dance's name and signature move derive from rapper Doug E. Fresh, who's known as the Human Beat Box and is most famous for his 1985 classic “La Di Da Di.” With one hand, he would reach around his head and stroke it from the front to the back; to Dougie, you lean side to side with your knees bent and arms up, and add Fresh's signature move from time to time.
Many people don't know, however, that Asylum-signed Dallas rapper Lil Wil already had a hit in 2007 with “My Dougie.” Otherwise known as the Dallas (D-Town) Boogie, the Dougie was a local phenomenon. That is, until a guy who was buddies with the members of Cali Swag District from Morningside High School introduced the dance to the group, after learning it while attending Texas Southern University in Houston.
Cali Swag District's version is very similar to Wil's, whose video features Dougie E. Fresh. Wil posted a video dissing Cali Swag District in July last year, saying “the group didn't reach out in the right way … they didn't keep it all the way trill.”
He also accused them of “biting D-Town swag.” But two months later, Wil responded to his own diss video by assuring, “it ain't no beef,” adding that he respects Cali Swag District for “getting money.” It's the people behind the scenes, apparently, that he has a problem with.
Lil Wil's diss video and response are below.
History repeats itself: Variations on old dance moves often pop up as new styles. The Dougie looks similar to the Robocop of the '80s. There is also one hilarious video circulating, which illustrates how the Dougie looks like a cooler version of the spazzy, spontaneous Carlton Banks dance from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.