As a child rising up in Southwest Philly, Klinton Cooper remembers his grandmother was all the time dancing, it doesn’t matter what she was doing.
“When she was cooking, going food shopping, whatever,” he mentioned. “Not enough to make a fool of herself, but enough to let the rhythm get into her.”
It was from his grandmother, who died in 2015, that Cooper, 31, discovered to like dancing. And although she was not round to see a video of him dancing in keeping with different Philly voters go viral on social media this weekend, he is aware of he and his grandmother danced for a similar cause.
“As Black people, we dance out of joyness. We always go through a lot of things, but with music and joy and sticking together, we dance through it,” he said. “Don’t let nobody take your joy, and don’t let nobody tell you you can’t do this.”
Cooper was one among a whole bunch of people that confirmed as much as vote early Saturday at Tilden Center Faculty in Southwest Philadelphia. He got here wearing a black “F— 2020” T-shirt he purchased from a pal after his uncle died of COVID-19 in September.
As voters who got here to attempt to beat the lengthy traces on Election Day waited for greater than two hours to solid their ballots, they had been handled to musical leisure as a part of “Joy to the Polls,” a nonpartisan mission designed to assist and encourage voters ready in line.
A couple of dozen members of the Resistance Revival Refrain, a bunch of girls and nonbinary vocalists primarily based in New York Metropolis, carried out protest songs on website. ArinMaya Lawrence, a 38-year-old singer/songwriter who lately moved from New York Metropolis to Philadelphia, was amongst them.
“It was wonderful being part of the energy that was sustaining people in the process of getting out to the polls,” Lawrence said. “But it should not be a two-and-a-half hour wait. That is absolutely a form of voter suppression. Nevertheless, it was wonderful to be a part of it and keep people’s energy and spirits up while they endured.”
When the refrain wrapped up its efficiency, a DJ took over and commenced taking part in songs for traditional line dances just like the Cha Cha Slide, the Wobble, and the Electrical Slide.
“He played all of the slides,” Lawrence mentioned. “As a Black woman, line dancing is one of our traditions. This is what we do at barbecues and all of the parties. Everyone was going crazy. It was just beautiful.”
Cooper didn’t need to get out of the lengthy line simply to do the Wobble, however he was midway up the ramp main into the varsity with loads of room round him when the “Cha Cha Slide” got here on.
“And the rest is history,” he mentioned.
Cooper led the opposite voters in line by way of the dance and even “put a little spice” on his strikes whereas members of the Resistance Revival Refrain, dressed all in white, danced in step under.
“What I did was dance for joy. They’re going to try ways to break us down but that video shows that they can’t break us down,” Cooper mentioned. “And that’s what our ancestors did — they danced and they smiled even though they couldn’t even vote. They went through a lot to be where we are today.”
A 37-second video of the dance put up on the refrain’ Twitter web page had greater than 7 million views as of Tuesday afternoon. Celebrities from Wanda Sykes (“We know winning this jawn is crucial.”) to Ava DuVernay (“I love us so much. We rise. Always.”) retweeted the video.
“It’s awesome to have it amplified by these large voices,” Lawrence said. “It carries the fervor and energy needed in this election.”
For Cooper, who thought perhaps just some folks in Philly would see the video, the response has been overwhelming. To see everybody from New York Instances senior artwork critic Jerry Saltz to skilled wrestling commenter Jim Ross retweet it has been very optimistic, he mentioned.
“When I saw Wanda Sykes, I was shocked. Wow, Wanda! I love Wanda. She’s a very beautiful woman and very funny,” Cooper mentioned. “Even Josh Gad — he plays Chuck in The Angry Birds Movie — when I saw him tweet it I was just like ‘OK, I’ll take that, Josh! I always liked your movies.’ ”
The second, Cooper mentioned, was a joyful one in a yr of intense ache as he’s watched movies of police killing Black folks, most lately in West Philadelphia on Monday, when Walter Wallace Jr. was shot to dying by officers in entrance of his mom — simply two days after and fewer than 5 miles away from the place the viral video of Cooper was taken.