“The Jitterbugs” Showcases Detroit’s “Jit” Dance

Image via detroitjitterbugs.com

2013 turned out to be the crown year for dance music from different regions within the US that have been around for almost two decades gaining worldwide influence – you had footwork and juke from Chicago getting praises and releases from labels like Hyperdub and even seeing its two forerunners (DJs Rashad and Spinn) touring with Chance The Rapper; the “Think”-break sampling “club” scene from Baltimore, Philadelphia and New Jersey taking over and trickling overseas into the and creating the enigmatic producer/DJ Yolo Bear — and even the new style that came to us early in the past year as twerk, taking the elements of New Orleans, or NOLA bounce, and sending them into hyperdrive.

This year, Detroit’s “jit” dance is slated to go from a just a local dance to seeing national recognition. Haleem Rasul, more commonly known as “Stringz,” is the producer of an upcoming documentary called The Jitterbugs: Pioneers of the Jit, a look at the rise of Johnny, Tracey, and James McGhee and their invention of the dance known as jit. Not to be confused with the Jitterbug dance from the 1920s and ’30s, this dance was created in the 1970s in Detroit that is more acrobatic, stylish (see the video below for the matching outfits), and actually has a history of gang culture from their early days as self-described criminals. Fast forward to 30 years later, and the jit has become the staple dance of Detroit, with both young and old crews representing for the Motor City, with crews like the LeJit Dance Company, Run Jit, Hardcore Detroit and even seeing a brief appearance on the television program So You Think You Can Dance?.

The Jitterbugs: Pioneers of the Jit will be shown at the 2014 San Diego Black Film Festival later this month, and will premiere in Detroit in May at the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum. For more info, visit the official Jitterbugs website.