Beer and Rappering

by Arwen Heaton

This extract from Chapter 9 of Arwen Heaton's work on rapper dancing explores the relationship between dancers and beer. The questionnaire referred to was part of a research project. The returns were completely male dominated.

It is an unmistakable fact that beer plays an important part in the execution of the Rapper dance. But how important is that part? Is it actually a necessary feature of the dance?

From my previous observations as a non-dancer who saw a lot of Rapper dancing (through no fault of my own) I saw this as an opportunity for male bonding. In the light of more recent probing I have concluded that the beer is a part of the image of the dancer as is his kit.

With these two elements and his aptitude as a performer he can:–

a) perfect his defence against those who do not understand him.

b) become part of the whole amongst those who are sympathetic towards his situation.

I see the part the beer has to play as all those reasons put on the questionnaire.

Behind a pint or five the dancer is more relaxed. He is not as self-concious about his attire, he fits his role in the team persona anonymously and is indistinguishable from the rest. He is there with his team for a common purpose - the performance of the dance, often in a small space with a captive audience - goodness me - a pub!

The beer is therefore waiting for him after a technically precise dance which has made them the centre of attention. The team must remain the centre of attention having captured the audience's imagination and gained their respect (?) They become larger-than-life and must retain this image via the beer and general rowdiness. The team must be seen to be drinkers and 'real' men, especially in rougher areas or their ribbons and short trousers will soon get them into trouble.

Amongst people of a similar bent, at festivals and the like, the dancer is encourages into day-long drinking by the group he socialises with, and, released from the day's drudgery of the class of obnoxious kids or the uncommunicative computer screen, he can slide into his role of talented entertainer and performer as he slips into his kit oiled by the beer inevitably present in the place he is to dance.

Another far less psychologically analytical reason and one which many of the questionnaire replies favoured is much simpler and more obvious. People tend to like drinking with their mates. The perceived 'beer-monster' image is merely a result of this, encouraged by the mask of the kit. It is not very often that dancers become too inebriated to dance properly (I'm giving them the benefit of the doubt here!) but the projected image that they must be drinking all the time and that they are 'real' men who can hold their beer is probably partly wishful thinking and partly a traditional attitude developed for its self-preservative qualities. No doubt it still comes in useful.

Perhaps the reason that many people rejected the 'beer-monster' image question was due to my choice of phrase. It was the word 'image' that was more important than 'beer-monster' which suggests an obnoxious rugby-club type attitude.

With hindsight I realise it is far from the mark.

The image portrayed by Rapper teams is not hostile but very welcoming and accomodating. They will talk to anyone, given half a chance, and it is probably this cheerful acceptance of the public that gains then tolerance from the public instead of broken noses.