Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Meeting the French Youth

Yesterday while showing Lyon to some friends we met a young guy when watching some break-dancer practice in the Opera building, he offered to show us the spot where the techtonik dancers practice, since my friends have never seen this kind of urban dance and I couldn’t miss this sociological chance we were happy to follow him. It was a lifetime ethnographic opportunity because it is difficult as a foreigner and older person to manage your way in.

Our guide was a maghribian gangsta rapper, break-dancer and also the organizer of the dance battles (break-dance vs techtonik), he was the one who managed to expulse the techtonik dancers from the Opera building, and he isn’t older than 16!!! He seems to have the business under control, he knows everybody around, almost every teenager who crossed our way came to say hello. He dresses differently, like a grown up so he can be taken seriously, trousers, shirt, sweater, jacket and briefcase.

When you see the French youth, you can barely make any distinction between them, maybe just the color of their skin, white, brown or black; but they all dress, make up and comb alike, their body language tries to show how bad ass they are, both girls and boys,  call each other (dirty) bitches and pimps. They follow the mass media stereotype of the black ghetto community in US; thanks god they do not limp when walking! For being French, they are very attached to this model, but they don’t seem to acknowledge the level of their consumption. They think the Techtonik is purely French and they ignore the influences they have.

In our little tour on the urban French culture, we were lucky enough to meet the mother of the Techtonik (la mère de la Techtonik), the best dancer, she is a 16 year old Maghribian girl, who was happy to have a foreign audience and show us her movements.

It was a brief insight of how this urban tribe behaves, how is managed leadership, how as teenagers try to fit in and define their identity; how the life in a society develops, how they identify each other, and construct a collective identity from plurality.

Encore une soirée où la jeunesse France
Encore elle va bien s'amuser dans cet état d'urgence
Alors elle va danser faire semblant d'exister
Qui sait si l'on ferme les yeux on vivra vieux

(Jeunes et Cons, a song by Damien Saez)

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