Disclaimer: you’re going to judge me for this post.
In almost all of dance/movement therapy sessions, I use music as a tool to support my clients with the creative process and facilitate self-expression. I’m very intentional about each song that I use throughout every moment of my sessions. I create playlists with distinct, consistent rhythms to help organize dance expression. I currently have about 7 different playlists that are grouped by different tempos, levels of structure (think “electric slide”), and familiarity. Familiar music can help people connect to their own bodies because usually, when we hear a song we love, we just can’t help but move to a song that moves us, and a shared familiarity with music can bring a group of strangers together.
I’m here to talk about one type of music that my adolescent clients always request: TRAP MUSIC.
No, wait- I’m not going to lie, I know exactly what trap music is and I love it. I love dancing to trap music.
Ok, so what is trap? Present day trap music is a sub-genre of electronic dance music that includes a mix of hip-hop, dubstep, and house music, with a mix of slowed down and sped up beats. People have referred to this evolved trap as grimy, dirty, heavy, dark.
I’m no expert at describing music, so here’s a link to 2017’s “#1 trap song of 2017” according to billboard.com:
You probably noticed that this music is very rhythmic but totally unpredictable, and many trap songs do include offensive content. Most trap songs are not appropriate for me to use in my profession as a dance/movement therapist, but that doesn’t mean I can’t experiment with it for my personal movement needs…
I had the opportunity to discover live trap music at a beach concert that my husband and I attended last summer. It was HEAVY. The bass was loud, the lights were bright, and there was even fire shooting up from the stage. I felt an inner need to dance hard to this music. In fact, many people refer to trap as “headbanger music” because of the popular inclination to make strong, direct movements with their heads and other body parts. Here’s a video of people dancing to a trap music DJ set that we went to this past weekend:
This crowd is all on the same page and there is something so gratifying to see that we all are here to dance our hearts out. There is this amazing sense of acceptance, non-judgment, and camaraderie in this setting. Yes, there is often drug and alcohol use in these settings, but there are also people who are not under the influence of anything, and even families who come together to these events to bond through dance and movement. Check out these two families moving together:
For me, I feel so free dancing to trap music. I learned and practiced technical dance for about 20 years of my life, but I felt like I was never fully given the permission to dance to hip-hop and related styles of music. It was not uncommon for people to laugh at me and say , “you look so white” or reject me from certain dance routines and auditions because I didn’t have the exact style they wanted.
I was never trying to be anything other than “so white,” but I love dancing “hard” because it directly helps me release and express my aggression. It brings me in touch with my life force. It helps me break out of my typical behavior profile that consists of controlled, reserved, and soft movements. When I dance to trap music, I don’t have to impress anybody, or fit to a certain standard- I can just do what my body feels in the moment and let loose. Not only do I feel no judgment from others, but I find myself connecting to so many others through this expression because we are all essentially mirroring each other’s movement qualities of grime, aggression, power, and more. At that moment, we are speaking each other’s language and just “get it.” It’s a beautiful thing.
Maybe, just maybe, I could find appropriate trap songs to play in the right moments of my dance/movement therapy sessions, with the right clientele. Music is evolving so quickly these days and we might have to be creative in order to expand our boundaries of professional movement-related practices and our own personal growth.
What if we all experimented outside of our own comfort zones to discover an immensely gratifying way to express and move ourselves? Could it bring a greater sense of acceptance for “others?”
Maybe trap music isn’t the right fit for everyone, but there could be something else out there that moves you in a way you haven’t experienced before.
Have you found a type of music that helps moves a part of you that never felt accepted by others? Or, might you need the support of a dance/movement therapist or related professional to help explore any part of you that’s been repressed for a long time?
Leave a comment to share your thoughts or message me directly if you’re interested in learning more about expanding your movement repertoire!