The History of the Unfolding Evolution of Twerking

Throughout history there has been many dance trends that are seen in culture. One of the most notable and recent dance trends is twerking. Which may actually serve as a way to maintain a stable society and as an outlet for people to keep calm. In addition, it can be seen as a sexual style of dance. The origin behind twerking is still unknown and most likely will always remain unknown, however, we can guess where it comes from. In addition, we can give some post twerking history.

Twerking is a form of a dance, which is mainly done in a provocative way. According to the online Oxford Dictionary twerking, is when you dance in a sexual and provocatively way, which contains hip thrusting and lower squatting positions (2013). Megan Levy from The Age strongly believes that, “[t]he word twerk [has been] […] formed by blending the words twist and jerk, or possibly by reworking the word ‘footwork’” (2013). As seen in a tutorial online from Howcast the steps for twerking includes: place hands on hips, feet apart, bend legs, place hands on your hip bone, push thumbs on your back bone to go forward, then to go back, you press back with fingers (2012).



If you follow those steps you can twerk. To twerk you also have to keep your body and legs still and just move your hips and butt, however, not many people do this. This is most likely because, it is very hard to do. In our textbook, Storey stated, “although texts and practices are never the ‘primary force’ in history, they can be active agents in historical change of the servants of social stability” (2012, p.61). This quote can be used in the sense that twerking (the text) is creating an outlet to people, to unwind and to just shake all the stress out and further calming people down to create a more stable society. In addition, twerking is becoming more known in the public and is becoming more acceptable. Twerking is a dance that includes sexual positions and is formed from rather the words ‘jerk’ and ‘twist’ or from ‘footwork’, furthermore, it may be away for people to escape their lives temporary and keep calm and in turn stabiles the society.

The “Million Dollar” question that needs to be asked with this topic is, where dose twerking come from? As Liberman said, the “[…] origin [of twerking] will forever remain ‘unknown” (2013). This is most likely because most dance trends are only really seen in media after the actual start and no one really does research to hunt down the true origin behind the trend. However, if you watch videos on the Traditional Jamaican Dance you can see that their dance is very similar to twerking, but a little more advanced and faster movement, an example would be Moiso’s video, which the link can be found in the work cited page. Therefore, it can be said that twerking may come from the Jamaican dance culture but it cannot be proven so we will never know where twerking comes from.

Although the origin of twerking may forever remain unknown, what we can do is give some post twerking history. For example, in 1993, was when twerking was first seen in the media with, DJ Jubilee’s music video for his song “Do The Jubilee All” (Graham, 2013). Then fast-forward to 1995, to Cheeky Blakk, whom was the first artist include the word “twerk” to a title of a song, with his song “Twerk Something” (Graham, 2013). In 2000 twerking gained recognition in culture and media (Wikipedia, 2013). Go ahead a year later in 2001, you will see the first “white guy’ to say ‘twerk’, who happened to be Bubba Sparxxx (Graham, 2013). In June of 2009 the first “Twerk Team” was created with Miss Twerk.Sum and Lady Luscious (Graham, 2013). Then in April of 2012, twerking was declared as a “Health Craze” (Graham, 2013). About eight months later, the popular tutorial company Howcast made a tutorial on “How to Twerk” (Graham, 2013). Now let’s fast forward to June of 2013, we are presented with a music video by Miley Cyrus titled “We Can’t Stop” which features Cyrus twerking up a storm with a teddy bear on her back, which was brought further to the media’s attention and made it a known trend (Graham, 2013). Later in 2013, in the month of August, Miley Cyrus made twerking more relevant in her VMAs performance with Robin Thicke (Graham, 2013). All of Miley’s twerking made it relevant to Oxford dictionary and they have now made a definition for it and made it to the online version of the dictionary. Just like most trends and dances, they only stay popular and relevant for half a year. Therefore, if twerking follows this trend, we will most likely see twerking fade out in a couple more months. With twerking, it was first seen in media in 1993 with a music video by DJ Jubilee, then through the years it has became more well known in the publics eye and thanks to Miley Cyrus, it is now a word in the Oxford dictionary and pretty well known to most people, furthermore, this is a trend and this will phase out over time.

In history we see many dance trends like, one of the most recent dance trend which is twerking, a dance that includes squatting and moving your butt up and down, as well, it can be a way to relax and keep calm. We can say that the dance trend of twerking most likely comes from the Traditional Jamaican dance, however, it can come from somewhere else. Furthermore, we will never know where the actual origin of twerking came from. What we can do though is give some post twerking history. For example DJ Jubilee in 1993 was the first person to bring twerking to the medias attention. Between that point until 2013 twerking just became more known then as soon as Miley Cyrus came to the scene twerking exploded in the eyes of the media. In addition, this is a trend and it will fade out. Here is a question to think about, what will the next dance trend by?

If you would like you may watch the presentation that I did for the same CMNS 112, Popular Culture Class! Plus I did a live twerk!




*Twerk is at 3:22 – 3:54

Work Cited

Graham, M. (2013). Twerking: A Complete History. [online] Retrieved from: http://www.vh1.com/music/tuner/2013-08-07/twerking-complete-history/ [Accessed: 1 Dec 2013].

Howcast (2012). How to Twerk | Club Dance Moves.

Available at: [Accessed: 1 Dec 2013].

Levy, M. (2012). Do you know how to twerk? (Or even what it is?). [online] Retrieved from: http://www.theage.com.au/data-point/do-you-know-how-to-twerk-or-even-what-it-is-20121213-2bbrp.html [Accessed: 1 Dec 2013].

Liberman, A. (2013). Twerk, twerp, and other tw-words. [online] Retrieved from: http://blog.oup.com/2013/03/twerk-twerp-tw-etymology-word-origin/ [Accessed: 1 Dec 2013].

Oxford Dictionaries (2013). twerk: definition of twerk in Oxford dictionary (British & World English). [online] Retrieved from: http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/twerk?q=twerk [Accessed: 1 Dec 2013].

Storey, J. (2012). Cultural theory and popular culture: an introduction. 6th ed. Essex, London, England: Pearson.

Wikipedia (2013). Twerking. [online] Retrieved from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twerking [Accessed: 1 Dec 2013].

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