Monday, February 18, 2008

Full Hips? Do the Bobaraba!

A skinny behind is no asset.

Seattle-born rapper Sir Mix-a-Lot won a Grammy for his hit that celebrated rotund bottoms, "Baby Got Back."

Jennifer Lopez made that feature of the female anatomy so enticing, that women began asking for, er, cheek implants.

And in Ivory Coast, a dance craze is responsible for a black market in substances touted as enhancements to that part of the female anatomy.

The dance is the boboraba, which in the local Djoula language means big behinds.

It sounds like a national dance craze, along the lines of the Twist, Hustle, and Macarena.

According to the BBC, when Ivorian DJs play the boboraba, people swarm on to the dance floor and start shaking their groove things.

The report goes on to say:

While the dance has been embraced by both sexes, DJ Mix says it was inspired by women.

"We made it as a tribute to women, because African women are defined by the shape of their bottoms," he says. "Move your bottom, jump, you see, it's alive."

Kady Meite, one of his dancers, says the song is a message for women.

"There are women today with large bottoms who are embarrassed, so it's to say don't be ashamed - be comfortable," she says.

The message seems to have been taken on board - so much so that some women are now going in search of a "bobaraba".

In the sprawling Adjame market just north of the city centre in Abidjan, women sell "bottom enhancers".

"You need to inject this liquid into your bottom once a day," says a market trader, showing a vial of coloured liquid labelled "Vitamin B12".

Each vial costs $2. The label claims it is made in China.

No ingredients list, no prescriptions. Doctors are justifiably concerned! Even if the stuff is Vitamin B12, there is no scientific evidence that vitamin B12 can be used to treat anything except vitamin B12 deficiency, says Dr Victoria Drake of Oregon State University's Micronutrient Information Center.

From Ivory Coast we have another dance story, this one going back to May 2006. (I missed this one!)

In a nightclub in Ivory Coast's main city, Abidjan, DJ Lewis stretches his arms out either side of his body, bends his arms at the wrists, and begins trembling like a man possessed.

A man possessed? Three seconds later, the DJ and musician sets that impression straight, by clucking loudly in his best imitation of a dying chicken.

"It's like a chicken with Parkinson's disease trying to dance to hip-hop," said one onlooker.

Welcome to the latest craze in Ivory Coast's ever-inventive night life: the bird flu dance.

The deadly avian disease was discovered in Ivory Coast last week, and within days DJ Lewis had come up with the bird flu dance.

"I created the dance to bring happiness to the hearts of Africans, and to chase away fear, the fear of eating chicken" he told the BBC.

"If we kill all our chickens and poultry, our cousins in the village will become poor.

"So I created the bird flu dance to put joy back into our hearts."

The story on the bird flu dance is also from the BBC, and you can read it here.

As for dance crazes in the Western world, they go back a very long way. Long before Chubby Checker and others his ilk, the minuet, the allemande, the schottische, the mazurka and the waltz were the fads of their day. Check out this Wikipedia article, Novelty and fad dances.

Tango, anyone?

Thursday, February 7, 2008

Idaho and Obama

I know it's been a while since my last post - chalk it up to a super-hectic schedule and long hours spent on snow removal. What a winter.

Other events besides our epic amounts of snow have caught my attention in recent days. Surely I'm not the only one who was surprised by the Super Tuesday's results from Idaho, the reddest of the red states. More than four times as many voters showed up to caucus as did in 2004 -- nearly 30,000, according to the Idaho Statesman.

Obama captured 80 percent of Idaho and easily won all of the state's 23 delegates to the Democratic National Convention. It was one of Obama's most decisive Super Tuesday victories.

Here's the view from the New York Times' Timothy Egan:

Take a look at what happened on Tuesday in the nearly all-white counties of Idaho, a place where the Aryan Nations once placed a boot print of hate — “the international headquarters of the white race,” as they called it.

The neo-Nazis are long gone. But in Kootenai County, where the extremists were holed up for several decades, a record number of Democrats trudged through heavy snow on Super Duper Tuesday to help pick the next president. Guess what: Senator Barack Obama took 81 percent of Kootenai County caucus voters, matching his landslide across the state. He won all but a single county.

The runaway victory came after a visit by Obama last Saturday, when 14,169 people filled the Taco Bell Arena in Boise to hear him speak – the largest crowd ever to fill the space, for any event. It was the biggest political rally the state has seen in more than 50 years.

“And they told me there were no Democrats in Idaho,” Obama said.

Egan says those numbers "make a case for Obama’s electability and the inroads he has made into places where Democrats are harder to find than a decent bagel."

Read Egan's whole piece here.