“A scrub is a guy that thinks he’s fly
And is also known as a busta
Always talkin’ about what he wants
And just sits on his broke ass…” TLC, No Scrubs, 1999
NO SCRUBS was the boisterous, fun dance brigade that I organized for the Jan 21 Women’s Marches (both Oakland and San Francisco). Why “NO SCRUBS”? Because if you know that jam, you know that it’s an earworm that’s hard to shake. Its lyrics could also be interpreted, under present circumstances, as a fun way to critique the new administration.
Organized around hiphop and pop music, Team NO SCRUBS’ goal was to add some sass to the occasion by dancing: “marching” just seemed so… grim. With that in mind, we got a PA system on wheels, and put together a playlist of fun, feisty pop songs by women of color (and Prince). Team NO SCRUBS then made and brandished quirky, absurdist protest signs quoted from these songs, and got a rolling dance party going with other marchers at both events.
Our goal was to be a focused, energetic burst of sunshine: the color yellow was employed as a motif for Golden State optimism, energy and power, and the music chosen was a deliberate strategy to engage and energize people. By all accounts, it worked well, especially when people were stuck in a holding pattern due to the crowds, and later when it started raining, too. It gave everyone within earshot of us something to do, and something to bond over.
With many more protests likely in the near future, it’s important to come up with strategies that allow for optimism, collaboration and play, most especially when folks are feeling furious, alone or negative. Most activism requires more serious action, so dancing to pop music is by no means a blanket solution: however, Alice Walker did tell the crowd at the Jan 18 queer dance party held outside Mike Pence’s house that these times call for “serious dancing,” so…
While much of Team NO SCRUBS was the result of a great collaborative effort among the women involved, its premise was the direct result of a deep reading of The Culture Group’s “Making Waves” PDF, which I highly recommend to anyone trying to figure out what to do with themselves, creatively and politically, at present.
Sing with me now:
“NO I don’t want no scrub
A scrub is a guy that can’t get no love from me…”