#DancingIsNotACrime: Dance as Digital Resistance in the Transnational 21st Century


  • Christopher J Smith Texas Tech University Vernacular Music Center




dance, hijab, resistance, women, Iran


In a live video posted to YouTube Sept 2 2014, a young woman, dressed in black and standing on a stationary car, dances, unwinds her hijab and fluffs her long hair. The upload, since disappeared, registered over 1 million views, and precipitated a spate of responses depicting young women dancing in public places, eventually spawning the hashtag #DancingIsNotACrime. In many cultures across many eras, dancing in public has been a tool for resistance. Those employing movement as resistance often do so precisely because street dance is portable, mutable, and infinitely viral: capable of transmission by person-to-person contact. Multiple subaltern revolutionary movements have begun in search of safe spaces for dancing, and the repression of public dance has been a locus for authoritarian crackdowns. Drawing upon methodologies from semiotics, musicology, kinesics, and political science, this essay explores #DancingIsNotACrime as a potent, present, and immediate vehicle seeking justice and social revolution.


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