The Prancing Elites came to do a job, and a job they did. The all-male, all-gay, all-black dancing group from Mobile, Alabama was invited by organizers to perform at the Christmas parade in nearby Semmes last week. It did not go well.
The group’s style — known as “J-Setting” — is “a highly stylized modern lead and follow style of hip hop dance, characterized by cheerleading-style sharp movements to eight-beat count music.” Their moves are typical of what you’d see from a high school dance team or cheer squad. (Think: Beyoncé’s “Single Ladies” video.) The difference is that the Prancing Elite are men, and they wear clothes typically associated with women.
Their performance did not go over well with the locals. The group heard plenty of jeers (“Oh my god, what’s that?”) as they strutted their stuff in midriff-baring Christmas sweaters, snug white shorts, and plenty of make-up. The post-performance reactions weren’t much better, according to AL.com:
Within hours, members of the community in Semmes called parade organizers and posted on social media, most of them in shock. At least one woman demanded an apology, saying she had “never been so insulted” in her life. Others wrote that they were disgusted and children should not have been exposed to the dancers.
A woman interviewed in the news report below — as she clutched her child, of course — was “outraged and appalled” at the performance. “Many in the crowd thought the dance group was inappropriate,” she explained. “If they were going to put this kind of activity in the parade, they should have notified the people of Semmes so that we had a choice whether we wanted our child to attend and see something like that.”
Below is the group’s official video of their performance. (Turn down your speakers, this thing is an audio abomination.) Just as described above, the group’s moves and attire aren’t any different from what you see at a standard high school pep rally — so the only thing that could have “outraged and appalled” residents is the group’s gender. (Relevant: In the video you can clearly see a team of female, short-skirted cheerleaders participating in the festivities. No outrage there, apparently.)
The group has kept it classy in interviews and on social media, apologizing for offending anyone who didn’t know what to expect while defending its right to participate in an event they were invited to.
The controversy seems to have been a net positive for the group. They did lose an appearance at a New Year’s Eve event in Mobile following their Semmes performance, but they’ve seen an outpouring of support on their Facebook page, and the group’s Kickstarter project — appropriately called High Road to Fame — has nearly reached a goal of raising $15,000.