Editors Note: If Cities Could Dance captures dancers’s personal stories and their deep-rooted relationships to their communities. Watch a new episode every Tuesday through May 28, 2018.
Baltimore Club dancing is high energy dancing. Knees jerk up, legs kick out, arms hinge and feet stomp in intricate patterns to music paced somewhere around 130 beats per minute. (That’s fast, really fast.)
“The unique thing about Baltimore Club is that the footwork is kinda complex. We have like six basic moves that we can turn into 30 moves when it’s time to perform,” says Terry Wedington (aka TSU Terry), who started dancing at age 14.
Wedington formed the dance crew Team Squad Up (TSU) in 2008, battling at parties and cementing his reputation as a leader in the Baltimore Club dance scene. Alongside popular DJs like K-Swift, the TSU crew established their style of dance as a fundamental part of the city’s culture.
Now, Baltimore Club is experiencing a resurgence. Wedington teaches his moves to the next generation, who see dancing as a way of connecting to their roots.
Fifteen-year-old Janiyah Johnson (aka Nirow) is one of Wedington’s protégées. She started dancing Baltimore Club just a year ago, and already won the 2017 Queen of Baltimore title in an annual city-wide dance competition.
“My grandfather was always about knowing your culture and knowing where you’re from,” Johnson says. “So when I was introduced to Baltimore Club, I felt like it was a sign from him, like, oh my gosh, this is something that’ll help you out.”
Watch the TSU crew, including the only two-time King of Baltimore, Brandon Dawson (aka McLovin), as they dance through the streets of downtown Baltimore. Follow them from the famed (now closed) Paradox Club, where signature moves like “crazy legs” and the “spongebob” evolved, to Baltimore's Sandtown neighborhood, where Freddie Gray grew up, and down to the city's harbor edge, as they dance their way into Baltimore's cultural history. -- Sarah Hotchkiss