Local Leaders: Dancingman504 (Part 2)

This blog post is Part 2 of “Local Leaders: Dancingman504.”  Read Part 1 here.


When you teach 2nd Line curriculum with dance and the cultural history of New Orleans to kids at school, what message Heal2Toe with Dancingman504do you hope they take away from the experience?

I hope they find pride in discovering the creativity that is within them.  I want them to take away a stronger feeling of being connected to the City of New Orleans. I want them to understand it’s ok to be them, to find the good in them, and then use that to better the families and neighborhoods within their city.

I want them to understand that one of their own made a decision based on them. I want to teach them a culture that is their own. There is no difference between them and me. We are born, raised, and live in New Orleans.

I also hope they take what I teach to them to their friends in the neighborhoods that weren’t a part of the class…..so that they may start a new conversation. The dance and music is here; it’s not only from other parts of the world. It’s from here. That’s where the heart comes from.

I want them to look at the positive things about them and master that. I want the kids, through the Heal2Toe (H2T) program, to have a reason to be friends with a kid they don’t know. A kid may be wearing a H2T shirt that isn’t the same as theirs, but they both had the experience of being part of H2T with Dancingman 504.

What is your favorite part of interacting with adults at BrassXcise?
BrassXciseMy favorite part is getting the adults moving. They may be sorta scared at first while seeing themselves following, and messing up somewhat. That’s just what they might think. For me, seeing their faces when the beat and movement sync up is a best part.

I have many favorite parts. Another one is that it gives me the opportunity to teach a life regimen based in athletics and mental acuity that I grew towards. To see them be able to find the same feeling that I feel even with my years of experience, that they can connect to that rhythm, shows me that I am 504 built to teach.

Another experience is that I want to reach out to the adults in BrassXcise to let them know that I started it as a means to go into schools to teach the culture of New Orleans. Some adults are looking for fitness, and they have asked me,  “Do you go to a gym?” I respond, “I am a gym”. And now I want to bring the gym to their kids. With their help, it will happen.

When I see people in BrassXcise feel their accomplishments come together and find a new way to think about New Orleans, whether they are from here, moved here, or are touring here, that experience gives them insight into the city that has sounds that move them. When I feel that work, it’s motivating.

Do you feel that Heal2Toe and BrassXcise are interconnected, and if so, how?

They are interconnected because there is an adult in every kid and a kid in every adult. So, through dance, my plan is to have every body dancing at home, festivals, parties, as well as doing fitness (fun-ness) to 2nd Line music.

Every adult has a kid on the inside. I want to be able to help a kid find the adult on the inside and help an adult find the kid on the inside so in that way they both will be able to see one another in a new light and know that’s because we are a whole new city. And that’s why I do this.

I hope that kids dancing with me at schools can talk to their parents about Heal2Toe and parents can talk to their kids about BrassXcise and find that they are one and the same. They will have a dialogue that is new and centered around the movement, culture, and music that is New Orleans.

The Second Quotable Quote from Darryl “Dancingman504” Young

Something my Mother would say: “You could be rich or you could be poor. When you die, you could have 2 white horses, a carriage, Grand Marshal, brass band, and a whole bunch of people 2nd Line celebrating your life, whether they knew you or not. That’s what makes this city so beautiful.”

And so now it makes sense that Darryl has the opportunity to be the Grand Marshal of 2nd Line Parades and The Krewe of Freret for life while teaching, performing, and celebrating all that is New Orleans!