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— by Shaheem Reid

NEW YORK — Summertime is upon us, and you know what that means. The days will be getting longer. Girls will be wearing less ... a lot less. And the clubs will be jumping. In other words, time to get your dancefloor game correct.

Last year the ladies dominated with that doggone dance. You know the dance, the one that originated in St. Louis, called the "mono" or the "monastery." We saw it in Nelly videos, we saw it in Chingy videos, we saw it spread across the country. Do you know how hard it is to dance with a girl while she's doing the dance from "Right Thurr"? Your only hope is to stand there as still as possible, without actually standing completely still, and hope she doesn't totally mop the dance floor with you.

  MTV News Report:
Summer Dances
Luckily fellas, this year we're back like Mase! There are a couple of dances that are tailor-made for the dudes, which brings up my latest assignment. About a month ago, I was covering the Terror Squad video shoot for "Lean Back." Now mind you, I had never heard the song, but about a week prior to the shoot, Squad member Remy Martin had told me that the Squad's single was the one. She was so excited about the tune, and her track record as of late has been pretty on point, so I said why not and hit the shoot.

When I got there, I saw Fat Joe doing a performance scene for his part in the video. "My n---as don't dance, they just pull up their pants and do the rockaway/ And lean back, lean back, lean back, lean back," Joe lip-synched. More importantly, he was doing this dance that I knew was going to catch on like crazy — the "lean back" or the "rockaway."

We've seen the rockaway dance in various forms in different videos like Usher's "Yeah!" and Ludacris' "Stand Up." But leave it up to Joe and the TS to make a song about it. Not just any song, either — "Lean Back" is already one of the biggest records early into the summer season and the video hasn't even hit yet.

Always trying to keep my finger on the pulse, I called up Joe and asked if he could demonstrate it for the MTV audience. So two weeks ago we hit Jimmy's Uptown restaurant/club/multipurpose hangout spot in Harlem for my tutorial with Joey Crack.

  Terror Squad
"Lean Back"
True Stories
(SRC/Universal)
With "Lean Back" playing in the background, Joe began by divulging one of the most important things about doing the lean back: It's all in the eyes. Joe was taught by one of his buddies and he bestowed this wisdom onto me — a key in doing the dance is throwing your head back and keeping your eyes focused on the ceiling rather than your dance partner. That's what we call "frontin'." It makes the girl feel you a little more.

Imagine Eddie Murphy circa his "SNL" days when he used to imitate Stevie Wonder. Head tilted up, eyes rolling a little bit as if to say, "I'm the star right now. You're here right now, but I'm the only thing that matters. Look at my moves." Other than that, as long as you know how to throw one of your shoulders back in step with the beat, you pretty much have it. The perfect dance, not too complicated, not too many movements to learn and, most importantly, you can still look super cool without sweating up your outfit.

Which brings us to the second dance I learned. Hey, you can't do the lean back all night long. You want to show the ladies some type of arsenal.

Around the same time I went to the "Lean Back" video set, I hit a Kanye West concert in New York. Kanye was refined and in pro-form. One part of the program really stuck out to me, though — Kanye was performing "Jesus Walks," and Coodie, who co-directed the "Through the Wire" video, started doing a little dance. It looked like something between the Elvis shuffle, a mummy walk and pimp stroll (if you can imagine that).

After the show I inquired with Coodie and he told me that the dance he and Kanye were doing is called the "Jesus walks" and that it was taken from a dance old timers used to do in the South called the gangster walk. Jackpot!

I knew if I could get that dance down pat, I would be the man. I would have my own thugged-out cha-cha line following me around the club as I did my thing. The dance was too complicated, though — I had to get a tutorial. So the day after I hit Jimmy's Uptown with Joe, I headed back to Harlem World, this time to the Harlem School of the Arts to get a lesson from Coodie. Only thing is, Coodie didn't come alone. He brought Dropout Bear, Kanye's Mascot.

Uh oh! Dropout is a real funny cat ... er, bear. Just looking at him will have you in stitches, but one thing I've learned from watching him on TV is that Drop is also a big ham. I didn't need some well-dressed mascot stealing my shine while I was trying to learn my dance. He may have a permanent unassuming smile on his grill, but I could read between the lines as soon as I saw him warming up in the dance studio — Dropout was out to snake me.

"There was no way that I could keep a straight face while dancing next to a bear in a blazer and sweatpants."
— MTV News reporter
   Shaheem Reid
I had my eyes peeled for any of Dropout's antics. Coodie first told me that when doing the Jesus walks you had to get your wrists in motion. You had to keep snapping your wrists like you were hurling a whip. Of course I got that part down pretty quickly. I went straight Indiana Jones "Temple of Doom" on 'em. No prob.

Where I got caught up were the next two parts: the foot shuffle and the ice grill. You have to move your feet from right to left in a 1-2, 1-2-3 manner, but you have to keep a mean look on your face or else you're not doing it right. Moving my feet was no problem, but there was no way in the world that I could keep a straight face while dancing next to a bear in a blazer and sweatpants.

Even though me and Dropout had a Jesus walks face-off, where Coodie judged how well both of us were learning (I'm ashamed to say I was bested by D.B. — I think the fix was in), it turned out that the mascot was on my side, after all. He gave me a few tips on how to get my swagger up a few levels and now I must say I am ready.

So when you see me on the dance floor this summer, you better move, get out the way. I'm bringing Dropout Bear with me and if you can't keep up with our moves, you might just get mauled.

You too can dance like me, Fat Joe, Coodie and the Dropout Bear. Get your VCRs and TiVos set. On Wednesday (June 2) during the news segment on "TRL," you'll get to see my dance lessons.


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Photo: MTV News

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 MTV News Reporter and Dropout Bear dancing



 Kanye West
"Jesus Walks" live
The College Dropout
(Roc-A-Fella)



 Chingy
"Right Thurr"
Jackpot
(Capitol)



 Usher feat. Lil Jon and Ludacris
"Yeah!"
Confessions
(Arista)



 Ludacris
"Stand Up"
Chicken-N-Beer
(Def Jam)




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