Maybe you’ve seen the video embedded here before, but for me the first time was today, when a friend (@rhh) re-tweeted a link from Ze Frank, and all the tweet said was “how great is this.” I am a big fan of Ze’s from way back, so I knew it would be a link to something wonderful — and so it was. It was a video of some street dancers in Oakland, standing on a street corner in the rain and doing a variety of hip hop called “turf dancing,” with a combination of flips and spins as well as moonwalking and styling.
I watched it with my daughters and they wanted to know more about it, so I tried to track down who the dancers were and why the video was shot. It seemed obvious that the videographer knew the dancers would be there, but it wasn’t a music video — and why do it on some non-descript street corner, in the pouring rain? The YouTube clip said that it was from Yak Films, so I checked out the company and found the video was called “RIP Rich D” and it featured a turf dancing troupe called Turf Feinz.
But why that street corner, and why in the rain? I finally found a few links that explained it: first a link from a blog pointed me to Kottke, which had a link to Snarkmarket (which I highly recommend). Turns out the video originally went viral in July, when it got posted to some blogs (I missed it somehow). The street corner was where the half-brother of one of the dancers in Turf Feinz was killed in a car accident a few days earlier. The group decided to go and do a tribute dance in his honour on the corner where he died, and allowed Yoram Savion of Yak Films to go and videotape them.
I knew the video had a magical quality of some kind, but I didn’t know why. Learning the story behind it made it even more touching. Just another reason why I love the Internet. If your bandwidth can handle it, I encourage you to watch it full screen.