“Do the Bankhead Bounce”: Classic Cookout Dances of the 90s

When I think about my summers in Atlanta, I think about going to various cookouts my parents used to take me and my sister to when we were younger. They were either their close friends or co-workers who always welcomed my family with great BBQ, fun games and plenty of music and dancing. It’s amazing that Black people possess the creativity and dancing skills that shape dance culture in the Hip-Hop world. Some of my favorite dances came from the 90s, especially memories of having booty shaking (aka twerking) battles with my friends at summer camp and trying to do the Tootsee Roll on roller skates.

I’ve always had a love for dancing, so when my favorite song, “C’mon N’ Ride It” by the Quad City DJ’s came on at the cookouts I was ready to show out. I would begin to bounce my shoulders, roll my arms and rock side-to-side in a rhythmic fashion and proceed to ride the train. This dance was closely similar to the popular Southwest Atlanta dance, the Bankhead Bounce originating in the Bankhead neighborhood. The original song that the Bankhead Bonce originated from was performed by an Atlanta rapper named Diamond and featured D-Roc in 1996 [i]. This dance required a rapid shoulder bounce with hands and fist bouncing in front of you from side to side. This dance could have been performed to any southern Hip-Hop song such as A-Town Players, “Wassup Wassup”, 95 South’s “Whoot! There It Is” and TLC’s Waterfalls, which they performed in their music video in 1995 [ii].

Most of my early summers were spent at my local Boys and Girls Club. I had a cool group of girlfriends who were always down to dance. So, when one of the camp counselors brought in their mix city with the latest Hip-Hop songs we would rush to the boom box and dance till our moms came to pick us up. A classic was the 69 Boyz, “Tootsee Roll” which actually peaked at the number one spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Rap chart and number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1994 [iii]. This dance was a more inverted funky chicken, which one would wind their knees inward while doing a dip. We also enjoyed the butterfly—similar to the Tootsee Roll, Da Dip by Freak Nasty and any other song that provided us instructions to shake our hips or drop it low.

As a young Black girl, I wasn’t aware of why I was shaking my butt at the young age of eight but similar to the women who were getting’ down at Freaknik or Black Bike Week it was a fun dance to do and you couldn’t resist the beat of the music. Growing up in the era of 2 Live Crew and Uncle Luke, or hearing songs that tell you to “Back that azz up” it’s a dance move that’s hard to refuse. When me and my friends or cousins got together at a family cookout hearing Juvenile’s “Back That Azz Up” really took over for the ’99 and the ’00. With its sexually explicit lyrics demanding listeners to back their ass up on the rapper himself, this song defiantly is a cultural favorite and can still be heard on your local HBCU campus and neighborhood cookouts.

The beauty about Hip-Hop is that it has the ability to make listeners feel good and bring people together to have a good time. I have many great memories as I reflect on the times when I used to dance to these songs. Now that I’m older the songs and the dances are quite nostalgic and take me to a place where I remember eating saucy ribs and burgers, smelling hot links on the grill, and bouncy houses in the backyard. Importantly, these dances are still remembered today and when played at parties or clubs now, me and my girls will still get low and do the Tootsee Roll and twerk to Uncle Luke’s “Cap D Comin’”. I just hope that this new generation of Hip-Hop dances continues to provide the same nostalgic memories and blissful feelings that we all grew up with in the 90s. —Adeerya J.



[ii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/95_South




Freaknik: The Black College Spring Break

“Mention Freaknik to any native Atlantan and you’re in for an earful — while the celebrations ended years ago, the memories are still fresh in many peoples’ minds,” wrote Michael Kahn.[i] Freaknik began in the mid 80s as a small picnic between Morris Brown and Spelman students, yet really gained traction and popularity during the early to mid-90s and became an important staple in the black college spring break experience. An impromptu gathering birthed a street party that attracted HBCU students across the country and by 1993, Atlanta’s streets were packed with students looking to party and as the name suggests, get their freak on. The music was loud, the clothes were tight, the drinks were flowing, and the streets were crowded. When stripped down to these terms Freaknik represented a time for black students to get together and just chill.

Atlanta has a history of breeding and nurturing black American culture and Freaknik was no exception. Freaknik of 1993 took the city by surprise when at least 100,000 college students stormed Atlanta, making it a party zone. What made Freaknik of 1993 incredible was the power of word of mouth. No one tweeted, IGd, Facebooked, or Snapchatted the event, it just happened. Students at HBCUs across the country heard about Freaknik some way or another and had to be in Atlanta, not at a beach, but on the streets of Atlanta.

The location and time: The third week of April, Piedmont Park in Atlanta, Peachtree street spanning into the West End of Atlanta (near the AUC Center), Auburn Avenue, and other streets of Atlanta hosted the event. The early days, people spent time in Piedmont Park socializing and having a good time, and as Freaknik evolved and grew in popularity, people spent time bumping music while gridlocked in traffic and eventually at clubs and concerts catered to the event. Clubs such as 559, The Gate, and Club 221 featured artists like Uncle Luke, Killer Mike, Jermaine Dupri, and Snoop Dogg and boasted large parties.

By 1994, Atlanta hosted nearly half a million Freaknik attendees, and the increased popularity brought the city of Atlanta millions of dollars in revenue. However, the growing popularity also brought greater risk of violence. College students were left to their own devices without much interference from the city and over the years more cases of rape and assault were reported. Mayor Kasim Reed said of the event, “I think that Freaknik was a good thing—until it wasn’t, until it lost its essence. It stopped being about black students having a good time and took on an All-Star Game type of feel. It really became a black Daytona Beach.”[ii]

As Atlanta prepared for the 1996 Olympics there was a push to “clean up” and rename Freaknik (i.e. Spring Jam 1997). Yet, the renaming didn’t hold. Eventually, an increased police presence and crackdown on lewd behavior and partying led to Freaknik fizzling out by 1999. Students traveled to beaches such as Daytona instead. It was the end of an era. At the end of the day, Freaknik was a historic event that gave black college students a chance to get together and simply hang out; and although it didn’t last very long, Freaknik introduced Southern rappers to the world and paved the way for music videos that featured scantily clad women that accentuated their assets and public twerking became the norm.[iii] Just think: what would music videos look like today if it weren’t for Freaknik? Would twerking be as popular? Thanks to this “freaky” event, we will never know. B. Stewart


[i] Kahn, Michael. “Freaknik Memories.” Curbed Atlanta. N.p., 20 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

[ii] “Freaknik: Rise and Fall of Atlanta’s Most Infamous Street Party.” Atlanta Magazine. N.p., 17 Mar. 2015. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.

[iii] Elliott, Angel. “The Oral History of Freaknik.” Complex. Complex Media, Inc, 12 Apr. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2015.