Last week Garth Pratt and I were in NYC filming and photographing for work. As we made our way from place to place we crossed paths with bunch of African American teens who told us that they were "Litefeet" dancers and asked us if we would want to film them do their dances.
Being two naive white boys who grew up working on farms and having absolutely no idea what we "should" and "should not" do in New York City, we readily agreed to go with these kids to meet the rest of their crew and film their dance routine. 20 min later we found ourselves in the heart of Queens surrounded by a group of loud rambunctious African American teenagers who were covered in tattoos and spoke a language that is far from what they speak in Idaho.
As we stood on the subway platform they were jumping around and hollering at people but as soon as the train showed up they turned to us and said, "Let's go, let's go!" and they aggressively rushed us into the car. They doors slammed shut and the subway started to gain speed down the tracks and I suddenly felt nervous about what was going on. The boys began eyeing the other people on the train, looking them up and down. They approached a few people and asked, "Are you a cop?" Garth and I began exchanging nervous glances as they kept asking people if they were a cops. Once it was determined that there were no cops on the subway car they pulled out a small stereo and one of them loudly yelled out, "It's showtime everyone!" echoed by a unanimous "SHOWTIIIIIIIME!" from the rest of the crew. They cranked the volume up, rolled up their sleeves and with big grins on their faces started to dance, right there in the subway car! Check out the below video to get a glimpse at what unfolded next.
It was incredible! Their routine was so mesmerizing/ bizarre and looked like a thug version of pole-dancing. Most of the passengers on the subway really enjoyed it too and with smiles gave the kids some cash afterward. Even though these kids were loud, obnoxious and possibly offensive to some, they told Garth and I over and over that they were all about positivity. They didn't want cause any harm. They didn't want to get in any trouble. They simply wanted to perform for people and make the ride for the commuters of New York just a little more enjoyable. (And possibly make a little money while doing it.)
One of the kids told us that they would rather dance than be in a gang. Dancing was their life and what they considered to be their future. It was their way to escape some hardships they faced from growing up in some of the hardest neighborhoods in New York. One kid told us,
"There was always gangs, but when Litefeet came around, people stopped their gangs to make dance teams."
We finally split ways with the the Litefeet crew after the cops showed up and the group scattered. As we were running fast through the subway tunnels away from the cops Prince (the main kid who was taking us around) turned to us and said, "You guys don't have to worry. You are white. They won't arrest you." Prince, on the other hand was only 17 years old and had been arrested multiple times for making people smile as he danced on subway.
Here are a few more pictures that I took while in NYC. It was soooo cold while we were there and I didn't get to do much site-seeing because of work obligations (I know, riiiight???) but some of the experiences we had are unforgettable. If you want to learn more about these Litefeet dancers and why the NYPD is trying to make a big effort to stop and arrest these young dancers click here to watch a short documentary.