In hip hop, unlike many other genres, it’s hard to separate the moves from the music. Hip hop dance moves are practically an art form to members of the culture. And while most of the moves are easy enough—the basics have been turned into a popular workout video—one move, known as grinding, is challenging as much because of its nature as for the amount of personality it requires.
The grind basically involves two or more dancers rotating their bodies while staying very close together, touching at times. Obviously there are sexual undertones to this move, and that’s what most people notice when they first see it done. It doesn’t help that grinders are often seen in night clubs. But the hip hop grind isn’t just an outlet for youngsters’ raging hormones. Depending on how you see it, the move can be a test of flexibility and balance, a show of rhythm to match that of the music, or the core of a really good workout routine.
A common variation is “freak dancing,” or “freaking” to some circles. It’s basically the grind in a form that’s less inhibited and more daring—and almost expectedly, more popular in younger crowds. Think of it as a beat-driven and energy-fueled version of dirty dancing. If you have the energy for it and the right music is playing, this is one move you’ll want to try at least once if you’re a big hip hop fan. Of course, you’ll want to do it where appropriate—most schools have banned it from student performances and the only safe place to do it is an adult venue, such as a hip hop club or bar.
Hip hop grinding is also among a number of dance styles that have been picked up for fitness purposes. Along with pole dancing, it’s one of the most popular dances in fitness classes, mostly because of the core workout it provides. It’s especially useful for toning the abs and improving flexibility, as well as getting a good dose of cardio.
Needless to say, upbeat rap music lends itself best to hip hop grinding. Some people prefer instrumental music, while others don’t mind the words—it’s a matter of personal choice. Catchy songs work great because you can time your moves according to the beats, and if you’re doing it for fitness, there’s a lot of repetition worked in. Whatever you choose, of course, the most important thing is to get into the music and do it for fun!