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Generations guide the history of Memphis Jookin

A Memphis family shares how Jookin and its origins have been passed down from each generation and the impact the dance is making in the community.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. —

There are a lot of things that make the Grind City everything that it is, especially the music and dance culture.  

Friday night, the long-awaited Memphis Jookin Show kicks off at the Orpheum in the city where Jookin was birthed. 

“My son, he's been, I call it, twirling on his toes since he got here, came into the world,” Nicole Palmer said.           

It’s a love that’s been passed down from mother to son.  

Palmer grew up when Gangsta Walkin became popular in Memphis. It’s a street dance created in the 1980s that became more widely known in the 1990s.  

“We would get together and try to learn how to do to Trigger Man and Gangsta Walk and things like that, and then we would go out to the skate rink and try to do it,” Palmer said.  

Gangsta Walkin evolved into what Jookin is today. 

“I was just imitating at the time,” Palmer’s son, Bradley Eugene Davis, Jr. Said. “I wasn't even conscious. I was just doing what my uncles and cousins did. And it just looked like a good time.” 

Davis, who goes by Geno, is one of the Memphis Jookers performing in the national tour. 

“To see it grow from just me, my family and us just having a good time, and to me actually being passionate about it and it developing into a career is like it's, it's motivating,” Davis said.  

Palmer says she remembers when he was just getting started.  

“He said, Mama, this is a dance,” she said. “And I said, no that's not quite how that dance goes, because I'm thinking about, like, when I used to do it. They done put a little spin on it. But I said that ain’t nothin but Gangsta walking and the trigger man. and he's like, No, Mama, this is Jookin. 

The fancy footwork is now turning into fame.     

“People don't see successful dancers where I come from, especially successful street dancers,” Davis said. “Like Memphis Jookin, this is the home of the dance style, and for it to be going on a national tour, all throughout the country, is crazy.” 

It shows there’s no grind quite like what you’ll find in the Grind City.  

“We're a great example of Memphis,” Davis said. “We're a great example of the style, and we're a great representation of the city in the style and the culture.” 

He’s now taking what he’s learned and passing it on to his own legacy, his son.  

“He's only five now, but 20 years from now, there's no telling where this show could have went, where Memphis Jookin is gonna be, where Jookin is gonna be, the dance style.” 

Tickets are on sale right now. You can buy them here  

The show is Friday and Saturday at 8 p.m. 

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