3rd January 2019 by Will Stewart
Scott Carthy’s debut film ‘Litefeet’ documents the recently criminalised art of subway dancing. The footage is of one of NYC’s most prolific dance groups, the W.A.F.F.L.E crew, leading up to their last dance on the improvised stage of a subway car. Carthy combines art with documentary for this sensitive, eye-wateringly clean-lined piece.
NY Police Commissioner, Bill Bratton implemented the law prohibiting performing on trains as an extension of the ‘Broken Windows theory’. The theory suggests that our environment can be a precursor to crime and violence if its upkeep is not carefully maintained. The NYPD argue that allowing ‘quality of life crimes’ such as open drug deals, graffiti art and prostitutes, sends out the message that more serious crimes are permissible. Carthy’s dancers have been slotted into this category now, becoming part of a clean up of the city which really began in the 90’s.
However, the law does not acknowledge the significance of this subculture within the cultural heritage of NYC. Litefeet is a branch of street (dance) performance originating from the neighbourhoods of New York, Harlem and the Bronx. These iconic places once teemed with violence but what followed was unrivalled creativity which has been passed down through generations. The birth of Hip Hop, Break dancing and a myriad of other disciplines of dance are the fruit of the struggles people faced. Litefeet inherited a little from many of these styles, principally the Harlem Shake, Chicken Noodle Soup, Aunt Jackie and Tone Wop.