Sunday, June 19, 2022

African American (Soul) Line Dancing With Folding Fans ("Popping Fans")

soulsisterify, Nov. 18, 2016

Soundtrack: Woop Woop by OilWell Event: J&P Annual Breast Cancer Soul Line Dance Date: November 12, 2016 Location: Ken Nakaoka Community Center 1670 W 162nd St, Gardena, California 90247 Video by Razzi **** Edited by Azizi Powell Latest Revision- June 28, 2022
This pancocojams showcases nine YouTube videos of African Americans line dancing while some of the group holds a folding fan. A few selected comments from the discussion threads for some of these videos are also included in this pancocojams post.

The content of this post is presented for historical, cultural, entertainment, and aesthetic purposes. All copyrights remain with their owners. Thanks to all those who are featured in these videos and thanks to the publishers of these videos on YouTube. -snip- By "African American line dancing" I mean choreographed dances to recorded Soul, R&B, or Hip Hop music that are performed by a group of people while they stand in one or more lines or rows. Another referent for "African American line dancing" is "Soul line dancing". Most the people performing African American (Soul) line dancing are African Americans. However, African American (Soul) line dancing can be performed by people of any race or ethnicity.
By "folding fan" I mean a fan that folds and opens up with the flick of the wrist. These types of hand held fans are used in some Chinese dances and in some Flamenco dances. ****
PANCOCOJAMS EDITORS NOTES Judging from YouTube videos, line dancing while holding a hand fan appears to be a relatively recent custom. The earliest YouTube examples that I found are from 2016. However, I've only found two YouTube videos of this custom from those years. More videos are found from 2021 on, but even then (and now), all soul (African American) line dancers don't dance with fans. I haven't come across any line dancing with a fan in any other YouTube line dance videos besides the videos of African American (Soul) line dancing. Using the title of one of the showcased YouTube videos below, this aspect of African American (Soul) line dancing may be called "fan popping".

It appears that many more women line dancers than men line dancers dance with fans. Instead of holding a fan, some male line dancers, wave a (usually white) towel, cloth napkin, or handkerchiefs while they dance. However, in some of the videos that are showcased below, it's not just women who pop the fans.

The folding fans that are used for Soul line dancing can be any color. I haven't seen any fans in these videos that are multicolored. The fact that each fan can be a different color adds to the line dances' visual effect. When the line dance begins, the fan is folded and then opened on beat which creates a "pop" or snapping sound.The fan may be waved, but is usually quickly folded and that process continues throughout the line dance. I've come across a few YouTube videos of some line dancers hitting the folded fan on the palm of their hand, and/or tapping the folded fan to their side while they danced. It's possible that the African American (Soul) line dancing custom of dancing with a folding fan was inspired by Flamenco fan dancing holding and Chinese fan dancing, although both these dance styles are quite different from African American (Soul) line dancing with a hand fan. The custom of New Orleans Social Aid & Pleasure Clubs dancing and strutting while holding one or two large fleather fans probably also influenced the custom of African Americans line dancing while holding a hand fan. I also believe that the custom of (usually) men doing line dancing while carrying a (usually) white towel or cloth and sometimes waving that cloth probably contributed to this "fan popping" custom. Most YouTube videos on African American line dancing only have a small number of comments in their discussion threads. In perusing various discussion threads of line dancing videos in which the dancers hold fans, I've only come across only a few comments about the custom of "fan popping". All of those comments are included below. My daughter Tazi Hughes teaches line dancing in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania with Roland Ford's Dance & Be Fit program. She shared with me that some members of the line dance community in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in Maryland, and in other states dance with wooden folding fans to accentuate the beat. For instance, in a line dance when a person takes three steps to the right and claps, a person with a fan would snap open the fan instead of clapping on that beat. My daughter also told me that one way that line dancing with fans has spread throughout the United States is because a lot of dancers do it during at national and regional line dance conventions as well as during their regular line dance sessions and get togethers. If you are familiar with the history and custom of popping fans while performing line dancing, please help document this history and custom by adding information in the comment section below. Thanks! **** A FEW ADDITIONAL YOUTUBE VIDEOS OF AFRICAN AMERICAN (SOUL) LINE DANCING HOLDING A HAND FAN These videos are given in relative chronological order and are numbered for referencing purposes only. **** SHOWCASE VIDEO #2: Fan Popping Gladys Smith, April 14, 2016 Keith Sweat- Good Loving -snip- Here are two comments from this video's discussion thread: 1. Eric Williams, 2021 "What kind of fans are those? How can I purchase one?" ** Reply 2. Gladys Smith, 2021 "Hi Eric, they are 12" silk oriential fans.  There is always someone selling them among the line dance family." **** SHOWCASE VIDEO #3: The Colonel of The Fan Brigade, Reggie Sullivan, SB Steppers

2nd. Annual Dance Convention in Shreve.

Bobby Mobley, August 28, 2016 -snip- Here are the only comments that are posted to this video's discussion thread: 1.
Mattie Brooks, 2019 "Love this line dance. Where can I get the fan?" ** 2, Ray Johnson, 2022 "Yawl go. We pop the fans in Cali too." -snip- Notice that it's not just women line dancers in this group who are popping fans.

Come on Home - Line Dance

Houston TSI, Mar 14, 2017 


LEVEL UP AKA POP YOUR FANS Creator: Brooklyn Ed 

TOPSHELF67, Nov 15, 2017 
Creator: Brooklyn Ed
Song: "Level" by Stokely
Here's a few comments from this video's discussion thread (with numbers added for referencing purposes only).

Tajauna Thompson, 2018
"Ok so I'm sorry it took me a year to see this particular line dance but you'll killed that !  I've seen several different ones to this song and I have enjoyed them all but the use of the fans added some flavor and made it special . And to The young lady in the front that had on the black t shirt you're in a class by yourself I really enjoyed watching you . Your performance was smooth thanks"

2. TOPSHELF 67, 2018
"Tajauna Thompson Good Morning...Juice aka Roll With It sends her deepest gratitude.  She says that it was actually the Ambassador who encouraged us to put some STANK on it if you will.  Thanks for viewing and responding.  Have a great day.  The BEST way."

3. Tajauna Thompson, 2018
"Nice ideal it worked. Very well done it makes yours unique you'll have a good day as well .  I'll keep watching for more from you'll "

5. Betty Washington, 2022
"Love the  routine with the fan it adds favor to the dance

Love it. Btw how can I get a fan that pop is it on Amazon      What is it called

Let me know!!!! Thanks"

SHOWCASE VIDEO #6: Ladies Fan Line Dance Performance at Charles Wright Album Listening Party in Leimert Park

zyruemusic, May 20, 2021  Fan Dancing Ladies Line Dance Performance at the "Taking It Back" Album Listening Party for Mr.Charles Wright at the Regency West Ballroom in Leimert Park on 05/16/2021…
"Leimert Park (/ləˈmɜːrt/; lə-MURT) is a neighborhood in the South Los Angeles region of Los Angeles, California."


Frances  / Lady Snapshot,  Dec 26, 2021  Line Dance created by KOLD..

Song:  Ooh Wee (Remix) [feat. Bruce Billups]

Artist" Ms. Yanni
Here are a few comments from this video's discussion thread (with numbers added for referencing purposes only).

1.  Anita Cue, 2022
"Nice dance but that fan popping is nerve wracking to a listener"

2. Jennifer Allen, 2022
"I love the  lady by her chair doing her fan too."

3. Jennifer Allen, 2022
"Those fans!!!"


Smooth Flava Dance, Gainesville FL, June 12, 2022


Cupid- The Cookout
The line dancer who attracted my attention in this video is the one in the second line with a red towel and a red fan. That dancer proves that it's not just women who line dance with fans.

The popping sound that the fans make when they are opened up and the visuals of that enhances the line dance experience for me (from a spectator's point of view). 

SHOWCASE VIDEO #9: Coming Thru

Tomika Brooks, Jun 25, 2022  Created by: Dee-Dee, Gwendolyn Wallace Cooper,
Robert Hallback & Robert Owens aka DJ Triple X

Song: Coming Thru

Artist: Ball Greezy
Notice the brother on the far right holding a fan and gettin down. Only a few other people in this group are dancing with a fan.

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  1. I jus happened upon this comment about Beyonce's newly released song "Break My Soul" that mentions "popping fans" (The comment is in the discussion thread for a Reaction vlog for that song)
    Vemon Cloudz, June 23, 2022
    "I love this direction Motha Beyonce is heading towards. I felt motivated and i do pop my fan as i listen to this".
    The vlogger Zach Campbell is LGBTQ. I wonder - Did popping fans come from LGBTQ cultures and was then picked up by Black (Soul) line dancing by Black females (the same as so many other Gay/drag lingo/dances etc)?

  2. In the August 2021 video "Down In The Kuntry", two women are shown holding folding fans while posing and dancing ln place behind or along side of the lead singers Stan Butler and West Love.

    This isn't line dancing and the women didn't pop their fans (that I noticed). But I wonder what other forms of dancing includes fan popping?

  3. Here's a comment from a YouTube video about Flamenco dancing that includes a comment about the sound a particular fan makes when it is opened: Advanced Flamenco Dancing : Advanced Fan Combo Moves in Flamenco Dancing, published by ExpertVillage Leaf Group, Sept. 11, 2007
    "Practice opening your fan and closing it [your fan]. This is an incredibly loud fan that I have today. So you will find them a little bit more silent."... [1:50 in that video]
    My sense is that the loud popping sound which is frowned upon in this video (and in Flamenco dancing?) is probably considered a plus in African American (Soul) line dancing.