Background: The following informant is a young adult college student who is well-versed in social media and internet trends. Her perspective represents that of many teens in today’s internet age. She describes a recent dance trend that has begun to take over social media. This is a transcription of our conversation (C is the informant and I am identified as “me”):
Me: Okay, so tell me a little about “the whoa.” Like if you had to describe it to someone who had never heard of it before.
C: The “whoa” is a dance, I guess
Me: How do you do it?
C: It’s like turning the wheel of a car, you go from nine and three to twelve and six *demonstrates said movements*
Me: When do you do the whoa?
C: You do it to the beat of a song or if you just feel like it
Me: Where did you first hear about it?
Context: This conversation took place in my dorm room one evening. The informant and I were discussing popular “internet” dance trends from our childhood and ended up discussing this most recent dance trend and where we first learned about it. The informant is active on social media and has knowledge of many trends prevalent on particular apps, such as Twitter or Instagram so I feel that she is a decent authority on the typical young adult social media experience.
Thoughts: Folk dances used to be shared in person through communal engagement. They were a way for people to unite and share their perspectives. Today, dances like “the whoa” are spread through the internet and can be learned by any and everyone. They don’t have a particular significance or meaning but rather develop different uses. “The Whoa” is often done when someone does something well or to signify that a song has a really strong beat. This particular dance was originally popular among the African-American community on Twitter, however it has spread to popular, mainstream culture. I find that it is typically performed to hip hop music, however it has become a trend to do the dance to more unrelated songs or without any music at all. Dance trends change all the time and every year has a particular dance that defines it. The dance of 2019 is definitely “the whoa.”
Main piece: Schuhplattler is a traditional style of Bavarian folk dance that includes lots of leg movement, stomping, clapping and slapping. The male performers wear Lederhosen and the female performers wear Dirndls. Modern performances of Schuhplattler can be seen at Oktoberfest in Germany, where many in attendance of the wear Dirndls and Lederhosen – a very good look. Schuhplattler dancers may also play the accordion in their performances, which is a nice addition.
Context: The informant (BB) grew up in Schlesien (Silesia), Germany and immigrated to the United States when she was 24 in August 1960. BB and her husband, who was from East Prussia (now considered a territory in Poland), started a family of 3 children in Orlando, Florida and ran a greenhouse business until their retirement. BB is a devout Christian with Lutheran roots. She is fluent in both German and English. Our conversation took place by the fireplace in my home in Atlanta. Interestingly, the informant never practiced, performed or watched Schuhplattler in her youth, since the Bavarian dance was more popular in the Southern part of Germany, and she grew up in the Northwest. However, when she immigrated to the U.S. and began attending the American-German society, many young German people were practicing Schuhplattler and putting on shows among their friends. So, she sent her three kids to Schuhplattler practice every weekend and accordion practice for 5 years (and they hated it). BB admires the dance because it was a tradition she wouldn’t have really been exposed to if she had stayed in Northwestern Germany.
Personal thoughts: There is definitely some irony in the fact that immigrating to a new country taught her more about her own country than living there, in some small ways. It goes to show the ways in which folk adapt traditions to new cultures, locations and time periods. Additionally, the Schuhplattler dance is a perfect reflection of the German people and their mindset – disciplined and refined, yet still lively and fun within those constraints. For external reference, see “Kolb, Alexandra. “The Migration and Globalization of Schuhplattler Dance: A Sociological Analysis.” Cultural Sociology, vol. 7, no. 1, 12 July 2012, pp. 39-55. ProQuest 5000. Accessed 20 Apr. 2019.)