Mr YouTube Shares His Feel-Good Dance Moves
How the King of Lite Feet Bounces That Good Energy Back
Mr YouTube shows off his signature Lite Feet moves in Downtown Los Angeles.
"Everyone pause for a sec", he says, and the dance studio falls silent, waiting. "BOOM! All right, here we go, so it's your boy, Mr YouTube, of course, the one and only from the Bronx, New York!"
No one can introduce Mr YouTube quite like Mr YouTube himself, aka Switzon Haney, aka Switz (pronounced "Swiss"). The self-taught, self-titled "King of Lite Feet"—a dance style he pioneered in Harlem and the Bronx in the early 2000s—also claims to be the first dancer to go viral on YouTube. Hence the nickname.
"I try to instil confidence in people … that's what I exude".
Mr YouTube is evidently not short of energy or confidence—and has plenty to spare. "That's what I exude. I try to instil confidence in people", he says, while teaching a Lite Feet class on a visit to a Downtown Los Angeles dance studio. "Confidence is key".
This self-assurance is about affirmation, not arrogance. His charisma compels those drawn to him to get up and move. "Sometimes you see dance and it can be super dope, but it can be off-putting", he says. "You might think it's too difficult. I try to make my style very universal and welcoming. I love to see people try".
But what exactly is his style? Lite Feet will be familiar to anyone who's ever ridden the New York City subway and heard the familiar call of "It's showtime! Showtime!" as the doors close.
It incorporates a lot of footwork, hat tricks and shoe tricks—kicking off a shoe mid-routine, for example, then catching it back on your foot. The tricks don't always come off, even for Mr YouTube, but he doesn't care. It's not about being perfect; it's about enjoying the freedom of self-expression without fear of failure. As part of that, Lite Feet dancers hype each other up with plenty of vocal encouragement.
"Radiate good energy to others and you'll get it back".
Mr YouTube's relentlessly positive mindset has been hard won. "I come from the streets … I come from a rough neighbourhood", he says, suddenly serious. "Just a lot of negativity all-round".
During tough times, he's turned to dance to help himself—and help others. "I've always used dancing as my outlet. Whenever I'm going through something, dance has been my tool. Dance has been good for my mental health and well-being as well as my physical health. It's therapeutic. So, take care of your mind, your body, your spirit and radiate good energy to others and you'll get it back".
It's time for the next dance class, and time to lift the mood. Suddenly, his face lights up again. "So, BOOM! Here's a story, a crazy story …" And it is. But not one we can repeat, unfortunately.
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Film: Aimee Hoffman
Photography: Thalia Gochez
Words: Dan Rookwood
Reported Date: July 2021