MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Memphis is known for its music. Now, the dances that come along with it are getting global attention. Memphis Jookin is featured in a worldwide Nike campaign.
“Memphis has always been what the world is seeing now, like a mecca of Black art,” said Osaze ‘Agod’ Niamke.
Memphis Jookin combines intricate footwork, spins, flexibility and skills.
“When I’m Jookin it feels like I’m in a state of freedom,” said Dra’em Hines.
“It’s a Memphis dance style that originated from Gangsta Walking in the late 80’s and early 90’s and it evolved into an urban ballet,” said Niamke.
In so many ways, its the culmination of Memphis culture.
Hines, Niamke and other members of the National Jookin League are featured in a Nike campaign for Nike Air Force 1 shoes. The shoes are almost synonymous with Memphis Jookin.
“It gives Memphis a positive image. Memphis art is good but it (has) always been peppered with negativity. With Jookin you got a bunch of young African American men, who aren’t involved in any of that and are true artists,” said Niamke.
Much like the Jookers on stage, many feel like Memphis waited its turn but now it’s time to get the spotlight.
“Memphis has been influential in hip hop forever, but it was looked over and now it’s my generation that gets the flowers,” said Niamke.
“We have people watching us overseas and it can change their mood. That’s just different… It feels like a dream come true.” said Hines.
Earlier this year, the National Jookin League made history by going on a national tour.