This post provides information about & examples of the use of the statements "Shante, you stay" and "Sashay away" that were coined by entertainer, producer, and entrepreneur Rupaul [RuPaul Andre Charles]. This post also includes my theories about the origins & meanings of those two statements.
The content of this post is provided for cultural and aesthetic purposes.
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Thanks to RuPaul for his creativity. Thanks also to all those who are featured on these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube. Thanks also to all those who are quoted in this post.
GENERAL DESCRIPTION OF "SHANTE YOU STAY" AND "SASHAY AWAY"
"Shante you stay" and "Sashay away" are two rhyming statements* that were coined and are being popularized by RuPaul. These statements are regularly featured at the conclusion of the "Lip Sync For your Life" (LSFYL) segment of RuPaul's popular American television series "RuPaul's Drag Race" (2009 to present).
*The first and last word of the first statement rhyme with the first and last word of the second statement. "Shante" is pronounced "shahn-TAY" and "sashay" is pronounced "sah-SHAY".
GENERAL INFORMATION ABOUT RUPAUL
"RuPaul Andre Charles (born November 17, 1960), best known mononymously as RuPaul, is an American actor, drag queen, model, author, and recording artist, who first became widely known in the 1990s when he appeared in a wide variety of television programs, films, and musical albums. Previously, he was a fixture on the Atlanta and New York City club scenes."...
RUPAUL'S EARLY USE OF "SHANTE" AND "SASHAY"
The words "shante" and "sashay" are found in the lyrics of RuPaul's 1993 hit House music record "Supermodel (You Better Work It)". "Shante" is pronounced "shahn TAY". Here's a video of that hit record.
RuPaul - Supermodel (Of The World)
thecelluloidcloset, Published on Apr 27, 2012
Official music video for the song "Supermodel (You Better Work)", the first single from the RuPaul's same titled album, released in 1993.
Lyric Excerpt: RuPaul's "Supermodel Of The World"
"I have one thing to say, sashay, shante
Shante, shante, shante
I have one thing to say, sashay shante
Shante, shante, shante"
Click http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/rupaul/supermodel.html for the complete lyrics of this song which was written by Rupaul Charles, Lawrence Thom, and James Harry.
Here's some information about RuPaul and the record "Supermodel (Of The World)"
"In 1993 RuPaul recorded dance/house albums which included Supermodel of the World. They were released through the rap label Tommy Boy, spawning the dance track hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)". The music video was an unexpected success on MTV channels, as grunge and gangsta rap were popular at the time. The song peaked at #45 on the Billboard Hot 100. It further charted on the UK Singles Chart, peaking on the top 40 at #39. The song found the most success peaking at number 2 on the U.S. dance music charts (known as the Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart). Airplay, heavy rotation of the music video on the MTV network and television appearances on popular programs like The Arsenio Hall Show popularized the song."...
The words "sashay shante" in this song praise & encourage the supermodel [RuPaul] and by extension, other "supermodels" for the style, confidence, and attitude that they exude.
My theories on the origins & meanings of "sashay" and "shante" in the context of the "Supermodel (You Better Work)" record and in the context of "RuPaul's Drag Race" television series are given below.
INFORMATION ABOUT "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE"
"In mid-2008, RuPaul began producing RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality television game show which aired on Logo in February 2009. The premise of the program has several drag queens compete to be selected by RuPaul and a panel of judges as "America's next drag superstar".
"RuPaul's Drag Race is an American reality competition television series produced by World of Wonder for Logo. RuPaul plays the roles of host, mentor, and source of inspiration for this series, which details RuPaul's search for "America's next drag superstar...
Common Sense Media commented, "RuPaul's Drag Race combines the fashion design drama of Project Runway with the modeling excitement of America's Next Top Model to create an entertainingly voyeuristic glimpse into the performance art world of drag queens. There's plenty of over-the-top stuff, but rather than simply treating drag performers as people to be laughed at and/or scorned, the show also focuses on the hard work and talent that goes into drag performances...”
THE USE OF "SHANTE, YOU STAY" AND "SASHAY AWAY" ON "RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE"
"The judges [on "RuPaul's Drag Race"] each provide their opinion on the contestants' performances on the runway and in the main challenge before RuPaul announces which drag queen is the episode's winner and which two had the weakest performances. The day before judging, the contestants are all provided with a song that they must learn the lyrics to. The contestants deemed as being the bottom two must "lip sync for their lives" to a song by a female artist in a final attempt to impress RuPaul. After the lip-sync, RuPaul alone decides who stays and who leaves"...
I'm surprised that this Wikipedia article fails to mention the two iconic statements that RuPaul makes at the conclusion of each show's "lip sync for your life" (LSFYL) segment: RuPaul says "Shante, you stay" to the winner and "Sashay away" to the loser (RuPaul often gives some praise to that contestant before saying the dreaded words "Sashay away").
Here are two videos of RuPaul's "Sashay Away" comments:
RuPaul Tells An Audience Member to "Sashay Away!"
Queen Latifah, Published on Mar 28, 2014
RuPaul demonstrates how he sends off cast members on "RuPaul's Drag Race" -- "Sashay Away!"
RuPaul's leitmotive: "Sashay away."
Antonio Casto, Published on Oct 20, 2012
The complete collection (till now) of one of the most unavoidable expressions from the TV show "RuPaul's Drag Race". Hope never have to hear that just for you.
MY SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE ORIGINS & MEANINGS OF "SASHAY; SASHAY AWAY"
The American word "sashay" comes from the French word "chassé". However, that dance movement isn't the same movement that RuPaul refers to in his 1993 "Supermodel (You Better Work)" record. Nor is chassé the same movement that RuPaul means when he says "Sashay away" on his television series.
The American vernacular meaning of "to sashay" is "to switch your hips while walking; to "(to 'strut your stuff" (to walk like you are on the catwalk, a fashion models' runway.)
"To sashay away" specifically means to leave the RuPaul's Drag Race competition (or, by extension, "to leave any location by strutting away in a super-confident manner (walking like a fierce* supermodel).
*"Fierce" = exceptionally good
UPDATE: April 6, 2016
Hat tip to Myron, April 5, 2016 at 9:24 PM for this information:
..."There is one theory that I did not see here, is that in old movies, a "chassé away" was used to dramatically (and nonsensically) exit a scene after a character was proved wrong and tries to flee in a funny way to emphasize their avoidance. A sort of dance away from a situation. It would be a chassé because the actor had to still face the camera.
Drag queen performances base themselves on the dramatic approach of things, the parody, so I thought it would be a reference to that (I mean pun intended, you would chassé away after being dragged, in a context of a movie). The prononciation "Sashay" is just an evolution of the word, it does not affect the alliteration fortunately."...
I think the "chassé away" in old movies probably did influence Ru Paul's use of that phrase in Ru Paul's Drag Race. I didn't know about that usage when I first published this post.
end of this update.
MY SPECULATIONS ABOUT THE ORIGINS OF THE WORD "SHANTE"
The use of word "shante" in the lyrics to RuPaul's 1993 "Supermodel (You Better Work)" record comes from the 1990 movie "Paris Is Burning" (which was filmed in the mid to late 1980s).
Here's a quote about "Paris Is Burning" that was posted by Caress, 3/12/2006 on the blog
..."Paris is Burning uncovers a hidden world that gobsmacked me by the terms used...
An MC rules the roost at the ball giving the performers walking music along the lines of Cheryl Lynn's Got To Be Real or Diana Ross' Love Hangover. He calls out as they walk "Shante, Shante Shante!!"
I believe that the selection of the name "Shante" as an exclamation to praise fierce queens who were "sashaying" and voguing during the New York City drag queen balls stems from that name being popularized during that time in New York City by "Roxanne Shanté".
"Roxanne Shanté (born Lolita Shanté Gooden; November 9, 1969) is an American Hip hop pioneer. Born and raised in the Queensbridge Projects of Queens, New York City, Shanté first gained attention through the Roxanne Wars and her association with the Juice Crew. [Years active: 1984–present]"...
[revised May 14, 2016]
The name "Shante" was also popularized in late 1990s by two R&B singers Chantay Savage and Chanté Moore.
Click https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chantay_Savage for information about Chantay Savage and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chant%C3%A9_Moore for information about Chanté Moore.
Chanté Moore is best known for the 1999 song "Chante's Got A Man".
Eliza Dinwiddie-Boyd, editor of the 1994 book
that Dinwiddle-Boyd cites are "Chantell", "Chauntel", "Chantalle", Chantrell", "Chauntae", "Chanta", and "Chaunte". That editor cites R&B singers Chanté Moore and Chantay Savage as famous examples of females with that name. Dinwiddle-Boyd also writes that "Variations of this name [the name Chantel] are especially popular among contemporary black parents". [page 259]
Other variations of the female name "Chante" that I've come across
are "Shontae" and "Shontay". And, although it occurs much less often, the name "Shontae" (spelled with an "s") is also given to males. In the early 1990s a Black male who attended the same university as my daughter was named "Shonte". It's likely that that name is a variation of the Irish name "Shawn" (one of the many forms of the name "John".
THE MEANING OF THE SAYING "SHANTE, YOU STAY"
Here's a quote from https://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20100329193905AAjQF4Z
"On RuPaul's Drag race, what does "Shante" mean from "shante, you stay"?
One answer: "It's a play on words from RuPaul's hit song "Supermodel". The song's chorus also features RuPaul repeating the phrase "Sashay! Shante!" When asked what it meant to "shante," RuPaul replied that it means "to weave a bewitching spell." In reality, it originates from the documentary Paris Is Burning"
- meep, 2009
If RuPaul actually gave the meaning of "Shante" that is attributed to him in the meep quote, he may have just made that meaning up on the spot because it sounded good. However, I think it's more likely that RuPaul was alluding to how the name "Shante" was used by drag queens in the 1980s as a referent for a queen who was really working the ballroom floor (and thus could be said to be "weaving a bewitching spell" by their image and actions).
Putting aside the use of the name "Shante" by 1980s drag queens in the movie "Paris Is Burning", I believe that it's significant that the first word of both "Shante, you stay" and "Sashay away" begin with the letter "s", resulting in those rhyming sayings forming an aesthetically pleasing alliteration pattern.
However, I don't think that "Shante" in the statement "Shante, you stay" is used as a personal name. Instead, it seems to me that "Shante, you stay" has no real meaning beyond an announcement of the winner of the "Lip-sync For Your Life" segment of "RuPaul's Drag Race".
Here's a quote from that is interesting to me, in part, because that first word in that "RuPaul's Drag Race" saying is spelled "Chanté" and not Shante". [Warning: That page contains profanity.] http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2011/04/24/rupauls-drag-race-slang-tuck-sickening-and-more-drag-terms.html
"chanté, you stay (interjection): what RuPaul says to the drag queen who is one of the bottom two contestants, but is saved and moves on to the next round after lipsyncing for her life (see also lipsync for life, sashay away).
Stemming from the lyrics of her 1992 dance hit "Supermodel (You Better Work)," it's the equivalent of Heidi Klum's or Ryan Seacrest's "You're safe" on Project Runway and American Idol, respectively."
I think that "Shante" is the correct spelling for that name/word as it refers to "RuPaul's Drag Race" because that is the way it was spelled in RuPaul's "Supermodel" record and than name with a beginning "s" fits the pattern of the "s" which begins the word "sashay".
(Addition: April 10, 2014)
It occurs to me that I failed to recognize the significance of the fact that prior to RuPaul saying "Shante, you stay" (and "Sashay away") he says the contestant's name. For instance, in Season 6, Episode 7 he said "Trinity, shante, you stay" (and he said "Sashay away" to Laganja.) That's another indication that he isn't using "shante" as a personal name.
If you wanted to use the quote attributed to RuPaul by meep [from the yahoo answers website], his statement to Trinity after that lip synch contest could be given as "Trinity, you weaved the most bewitching spell, [so] you stay." Or, according to my interpretation of the use of the name "Shante" by the "Paris Is Burning" drag queens, RuPaul's statement could be given in long form as "Trinity, you are a fierce queen -or in the context of the lip-sync for your life contest-"You are the fiercest queen (competing in that segment)"- [therefore] you stay".
Either way, the meaning of that "Shante, you stay" statement is much more soulful and is given in a much more soulful manner than just saying "You're safe."
(end of April 10, 2014 addition)
UPDATE: April 6, 2016
Hat tip to Myron, April 5, 2016 at 9:24 PM for this information:
..."As for "shantay" I assumed it was a short from "enchanté", which means "charmed" (both in a way to cast a spell, and to be pleased, just like in english)."..
I think that the "to be pleased" meaning of "enchanté" (to be captivating?") probably was the source of the word's (name's) use in the Paris Is Burning movie and in Ru-Paul's "Supermodel" record, particularly if that word was "chanted" as a compliment in Paris Is Burning to mean that the drag queen was "enchanting" (pleasing, captivating). And, it seems to me, that that is the meaning that Ru-Paul uses for the phrase, "Shante, you stay". (I'm pleased with you [and/or "You're pleasing/enchanting"] and -therefore- you stay").
Also, if I've not noted this before, I think that the reason that "Shante, you stay" and "Sashay away" are used together on Ru-Paul's Drag Race is because of their alliteration - both "Shante" and "sashay" have a "sh" sound. Also, I believe that these commands are used together on that program because they rhyme: stay/away.
end of that April 6, 2016 update.
I should also be noted that there are several conflicting entries for the meaning of the name "Shante" and/or the word "shante" on urbandictionary.com.
http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=shante for three examples of reader entries for "Shante". For instance, the entry with the most reader points as of this date (April 9, 2014) is this one which was sent in by leesh1545 November 22, 2009
"Shante - A crazy girl with a loud mouth. Shoppaholic. Loves to party and loves Hello Kitty. She's fun and crazy and is loyal to her friends. She has a sense of humor, and is brutally honest. She's a friend you can trust.
"Hey shante, what you doin tonight?"
"Girl, you know i'm goin to the party! Wanna go shopping with me first?"
"Hey shante, how does my outfit look?"
"Like your closet threw up on you. Come with me and i'll fix you"
However, I'm very doubtful if those generic referents were used by African Americans prior to the 1980s when "Paris Is Burning" was being filmed or after that time.
A COMMENT ABOUT "CHASSE" AND "SASHAY AWAY" FROM A DISCUSSION ABOUT RUPAUL'S DRAG RACE SEASON #6, EPISODE #8
Here's the comment that prompted me to write this post about the meanings of the rhyming statements "Sashay away" and "Shonte, you stay":
Did anyone else catch Laganja's parting shot of "And now I will be the first queen ever to actually chassé away"
And then she chassés out of there*
IDIOT, IT'S SASHAY AWAY!
When Laganja lost her lip sync challenge in Season 6, episode #8 and therefore had to leave the stage, she did a chasse ballet step. I think that AlbrechtEinstein dissed Laganja because in spite of the fact that Laganja put on a "hip", street wise persona in all those episodes that she appeared in, she didn't even realize that the ballet chasse isn't what RuPaul meant when he said "Sashay away!". However, another commenter wrote that Laganja probably knew what "sashay" meant, but she was just trying to be clever.
VIDEO SHOWING MODELS SHASHAYING
Here's a video that showcases what walking on a catwalk (strutting, sashaying) looks like:
Black Fashion Models at The Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows 2001-2003
juniorpetjua, Uploaded on Apr 23, 2010
Black Fashion Models at The Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows 2001-2003:
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