Perreo is a dance, that focuses on grinding, with the man facing the back of the woman. The word 'perreo', meaning dancing doggystyle, derives from the Spanish word perro, meaning "dog". This is also known as "booty dancing" or "grinding" or "twerking" in the United States of America.
Perreo is a front-to-back dance, that is, the man faces the back of the woman. The moves focus on grinding and pelvic thrusts. They can be seen in music videos and night clubs.
It is a rare form of dance in which the woman takes the lead. Taking the lead in the sensual experience of both parties was appealing to some women. Drawing on research conducted in Cuba by ethnomusicologist Vincenzo Perna (see his book "Timba, the sound of the Cuban crisis", Ashgate 2005), author Jan Fairley suggested that this style of dance, along with other timba moves such as despelote,[clarification needed] tembleque,[clarification needed] and subasta de la cintura,[clarification needed] in which the woman is both in control and the main focus of the dance, can be traced to the economic status of Cuba in the 1990s and to the choreographic forms of popular music dancing of that period, particularly in relation to Afro-Cuban timba. As the US Dollar (which functioned as a dual currency alongside the Cuban Peso until 2001) became more valuable, women changed their style of dance to be more visually appealing to men; in particular, to yumas ("foreigners"), who had dollars. This tension between use of the female body as both an objectified commodity and an active, self-created persuasive tool is one of the many paradoxes dembow dancing creates in Cuba.
Perreo was the subject of a national controversy in Dominican republic as dembow music and the predominantly lower class culture it derived from became more popular and widely available. Velda González, a well known senator and public figure in Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic, led a campaign against dembow and specifically attacked the perreo style of dancing, which she marked as overtly erotic, sexually explicit, and degrading to women.
Perreo has also been much criticized in Cuba. Part of the criticism may be due to its association with dembow, which, while very popular in Cuba, has also been heavily criticized for being degrading to women. Perreo has been seen as a departure from classical from front-to-front dancing (salsa etc.) to back-to-front dancing. Some Cuban dancers argue that this puts women in control. Others have argued that it is un-Cuban, and the Cuban government seems to agree.
- Andrea Hidalgo (2005-06-02). "Perreo causes Controversy for Reggaeton". Reggaetonline.net.
- Fairley, Jan. (2008) "How To Make Love With Your Clothes On: Dancing Reggaeton and Gender In Cuba". In Reading Reggaeton (forthcoming, Duke University Press).
- Fairley, Jan. "Como hacer el amor con ropa (How to Make Love with your Clothes On)". Institute of Popular Music (University of Liverpool).
- Frances Negrón-Muntaner and Raquel Z. Rivera, "Reggaeton Nation" (17 December 2007)
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- Baker, Geoff. "The Politics of Dancing: Reggaeton and Rap in Havana, Cuba". Royal Holloway (University of London).