Restricted: Hip Hop

and why you should go to that audition

Every so often I’d load up the official 5 college online calendar. Usually it listed a film playing at Mount Holyoke or a lecture series at Smith.

But this one day I saw that in 3 hours there would be open try outs for an original hip hop dance piece. It didn’t say much more. I spent three hours mulling over excuses not to go.

I was the only guy in the room of mirrors. We stretched and then began learning a “simple” sequence. I had the movements down. I can do this. But they just kept coming. Then another sequence. Then the two together. And now a third…

About a quarter of the way through I was totally overwhelmed – all I could do was smile as the girls else kept pace. Well, I tried. Embarrassment. I sauntered home with my shirt and ego tucked under my arm.

I was pretty surprised when I got a call from Nick.

He and I met up the next month to freestyle, try out movements, and tunes. I have all these old low-res videos of us in my room or a his dorm basement spinning on the toes of Timberlands. Lots of fake crip walk:)

A little over a month before the performance date, we finally met as a group, the four of us. Chris was an impressive figure, a thick and closely trimmed Amherst college football player who knew nick from their time together in an acapella group. His weapon of choice was old school locking. The other dancer was Heather, a beautiful (and complicated) girl from Smith. I recognized her immediately as the one person I had ever had a great give and take with at the MonkeyRoom. She had her shit together, and could hand you an original choreography worthy of a Missy video at a moment’s notice.

It was great freestyling with these guys on that stage. I remember it was all taped up with cues from past shows. Now what if I slide here? Hold up, do that again. Can anyone do a backflip? Playful people.

But when the 2 week mark came, we had little to no choreography actually down in the books. Honestly I had my doubts we could pull it together. We all pitched in with ideas, with discipline, with our various skills. I ended up mixing the audio. I look back and wish I’d used some time to choreograph an interesting solo… painful.

Part of Nick’s concept included us standing on stage stretching as the audience first filed in. We were real people. We tried out new moves, talked with the audience, and got ready. It was a relaxing way to ease into a performance. I think the beginning of the video is meant to suggest that intro segment.

We had four or five shows… all pretty successful. After we took our bow, I enjoyed laying on my stomach in the wings and watching the half modern, half hip hop piece that came after ours. There’s a certain magic that comes from watching from the backstage. I loved seeing the anticipation of dancers about to sprint on stage. There’s this one bounce they take before taking off, and it’s so full of optimism and fear.

If you don’t perform something, you should. It’s a great experience, from rehearsal to striking.

It’d be fun to jam with those guys again. Who knows.


For the Crunk Feminist Collective, their academic day jobs were lacking in relevant conversations about how race and gender politics intersected with pop culture and current events. So they started a blog, now with an annual readership of nearly one million, to foster dialogue as critical homegirls stuck between loving hip hop and “ratchet culture,” while hating patriarchy and sexism.

Awesome! You’re way too humble Mr. Goldstein. Love the story of how you guys met up. Wish I had been more in tune with that :)


That was awesome Jonah!

– nathanael

PS I was surprised to see that you used to have a little less hair than now!


me know
what you think
just remember i have feelings too