Go-go music is so prominent in Washington D.C. and its surrounding areas that it’s almost a part of the air.
Whether booming out of car speakers or playing at family events, the percussive sound finds its way into the atmosphere, whether you’re an active listener or not. Go-go has roots in 1970s funk with iconic performers like Chuck Brown (considered “The Godfather of go-go”). However, as years went by, the genre started to evolve, the pace quickened, and soon, a new dance style emerged.
Queen P started beating her feet in 1999, only one year after the style was created by Marvin “Slush” Gross in D.C.’s Barry Farm neighborhood.
Since then, Queen P has delivered her moves in school hallways, neighborhood churches, and go-go venues throughout the D.C. and Maryland area. Go-go acts like Backyard Band (BYB), Critical Condition Band (CCB) and Raw Image served as her soundtrack.
“Raw Image came out with some serious heat,” Queen P said in a talk with Global Grind. “When they had the song ‘Shake It Out,‘ it’s something about that record…I used to be in the house drilling myself with that.”
Queen P hit the national stage in 2009 when she and her crew, the Beat Ya Feet Kings, made it to MTV’s America’s Best Dance Crew. After a solid run on the show, Queen P continued to build beat ya feet culture by teaching the dance across the country.
However, back home, the momentum started to die. Even though beat ya feet kept an underground following, the popularity for the dance started to dip. “Beat ya feet is like a cat,” Queen P said. “We keep getting these lives. It’ll die and then it’ll be alive again, and we’re running out of lives. I told dancers if we don’t capitalize on it this year, that’s it.”
Now, at 32 years old, Queen P continues to spread the beat ya feet dance with workshops, videos, and merchandise. She even had a notable cameo in Ciara‘s music video for “Dose.”
Check out our quick conversation with Queen P below where she describes working with Ciara, go-go culture, and being one of the few women in beat ya feet dance.
So you told me you trained in different styles like modern dance, jazz, and hip hop. Then, you started beating your feet in middle school. Was there anything else that contributed to your style today?
From ten years old and on is when I really started educating myself on entertainment and performance quality from watching music videos. So The Box (T.V. channel), Video Soul, BET’s Cita’s World. When I would come back from school and do all my homework, I would just turn it on and get right to it. So like watching Ginuwine, Usher, and I’m a huge supporter of Missy Elliott.
But I’ve always been more of a fan or supporter of the creatives behind the artist, so like the choreographers and the creative directors. I understood that the artist isn’t solely responsible for their songs.
How did the Ciara music video come about?
My dance mentor is Jamaica Craft and she is Ciara’s creative director. She had been waiting on the right project to utilize my talent and it just so happened to be “Dose.” I honestly was shocked because my name was in the video and that never happens for a dancer…to get that type of shout out.
You’re representing for the ladies in beat ya feet. Do you feel like you have a specific experience being a woman in the culture?
There was a point where I felt disrespected in the community of BYF. I’m a woman in a male-dominated movement and it’s not easy at all, especially when you’re just a natural-born leader. I got a lot of pushback within the team I danced for and from others around 2009, especially when myself and the kings were on America’s Best Dance Crew.
What’s the climate for women in the culture now?
There were a lot of girls involved back in the late ’90s, but I believe at some point for girls, it wasn’t as popular. Right now, there are females who do the style, but they don’t want to identify with women. I grew up watching artists and dancers back in the day who wore loose fitting clothes and hats — tomboy swag I guess you can say — but they embraced their femininity. I am one in the same. There’s young ladies who I’ve trained in the style, but they just haven’t embraced it as much as I have over the years.
What’s your vision for beat ya feet in the future?
My desire is that it becomes as global and respected as the Krump movement, and the rawness of the style doesn’t get tampered with or watered down.
What about go-go culture as a whole?
Well if we continue to get support from the go-go community, they will see how important we are to keeping them in the ears of listeners as well. The dance movement is able to bridge the gap. Dancers are the new DJs. We break music as well.
If we don’t move as a unit, I believe the dance will spread and get bigger, and in essence, leave the music behind. The more people we get familiarized with the go-go sound as dancers, then we’ll have the undivided attention of people in other areas, and they’ll take on a love for not just the dance, but the music as well.