How the dance genre moved from the metro to the general public

From left to right: Chrybaby Cozie, Goofy, Mr. YouTube, Kidd Patt and SpaceMan King.
Photo: Bobby Doherty / New York Magazine

Mr. YouTube and Chrybaby Cozie met in 2005 during a basketball game in Harlem. As an announcer chanted “Go light-footed, get the light,” a genre of dance – arguably the first to come to our streets since break-dancing – was born. “It was a community dance,” said early user SpaceMan King of Spank FantasticBoyz today. While breakdancing is all about getting down to the ground, litefeet is fast, floating jumps and footwork performed to dance music and chants. (See the basics below.) Its most visible promoter has been Goofy, head of the WaffleNYC team, who turned litefeet into “It’s Showtime!” in the subway. Joyful for some commuters, irritating for others, it now makes artists stop. But the creators moved on: Goofy danced in commercials in Europe, and Mr. YouTube runs NYCHA-funded classes, wearing shirts and hats from his four sponsors. This summer, Pharrell and P. Diddy took Mr. YouTube, Kidd Patt and SpaceMan to LA for a video. “In New York,” says Kidd Patt, “people ask me what kind of dance I do,” he says. “My goal is to make them be, like, Oh, it’s light!

Tone Wop Foot Shuffle
The tone wop foot shuffle is the founding dance movement of litefeet.

Chicken noodle soup
Chicken Noodle Soup, performed * by Mr. YouTube, was the first light dance move to go mainstream with the song “Chicken Noodle Soup”.

Rev-Up
A combination of the wop tone and the chicken noodle soup, the rev up, performed here by Chrybaby Cozie, is the first movement performed in every litefeet routine.

A bad
Bad, another foundational litefeet movement used in every routine, was first popularized in the song “5000”. Most dancers develop their own vision of movement. It’s Kidd Patt’s version, which he calls the “Evil Knievel”.

Harlem Shake
The Harlem shake, another dance that originated on the streets of upscale New York City, is often used and repeated in light routines. Here it is performed by SpaceMan.

Footwork
Litefeet’s technical footwork is a more aggressive, urban approach to tap dancing. Dancers build different patterns with ankle rolls, jumps, and ballet pointe shoes.

Hat trick
One of the main differences between light feet and breakdancing is its use of prop tricks, one of the first of which was dancing with a baseball cap.

Shoe tip
The Adidas Superstar is the iconic litefeet shoe because of the way dancers like Goofy are able to bounce them off their rubber toes.

Pole movements
Pole movements were first invented when Goofy and his dance team WaffleNYC took to the subways.

Locking
Each litefeet dance ends with a lock-in, which emphatically announces the conclusion of the routine, like an exclamation mark at the end of a sentence, and invites the audience to respond.

Full program
SpaceMan, left, and Kidd Patt perform a full light foot routine with a revving, footwork, and finish with a lockdown.


*An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that Mr. YouTube invented Chicken Noodle Soup.

* A version of this article appears in the September 7, 2015 issue of new York Magazine.


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