“Man, I got the swaaaaaag!”

The opening line to Fast Life Yungstaz’s 2009 hit is more than just a song lyric; it’s a command to get in the proper position, and everyone knows exactly what to do.

The people on stage face the crowd. The crowd stops dancing and faces the stage. People at the bar tell the bartender to hold their orders. Alzo Slade, the party’s hypeman and MC, points to his right.

DJ Square Biz cues up the command again.

“Man, I got the swaaaaag!”

This time, the song continues. “You know I got the swaaaaag.” Strangers have arms around strangers like they’re best friends as they rock side to side. No one seems to mind the back sweat from the bodies of fellow party-goers.

The first refrain starts: “I’m on Hypnotic/Exotic/This polo on my body….” People start jumping up and down, pumping their fists. Mini-mosh pits break out, and more drinks are being spilled than consumed. The place has exploded into what looks like a real-life Ernie Barnes painting. For anyone who has ever partied in the South, the scene is a familiar one.

But this is not happening anywhere below the Mason-Dixon Line. This is a Saturday night in New York City at a party known as Grits & Biscuits.

If you’re young, black, and social in New York City, scenes like these are why you go to the Grits & Biscuits party. No, not all the songs are new, but to a particular group, these are the oldies but goodies. There is no “Cupid Shuffle” or “Electric Slide.” At Grits & Biscuits, line dancing is swag surfing, the Wobble, or the hip-hop version of the bunny hop. At Grits & Biscuits, removing your shirt to cool off isn’t worst behavior—it’s typical behavior. People are hoisted up on shoulders, and others are elbowed (usually by accident). These are things that have been happening since the first Grits & Biscuits took place in July 2010 at a mid-sized club called Southpaw in Park Slope, Brooklyn.

“When I got here in ’04, my homeboys and I would go to these parties, and they would either be all bohemian or these mega-clubs,” recalls Alzo Slade, one-third of E.Z.Mo Breezy, the team behind Grits & Biscuits. “None of those places were playing the type of music we grew up with.” His preferred type of music was Southern hip-hop. In Houston, where he and his younger brother, Maurice “DJ Square Biz” Slade, grew up, it was less about Eric B & Rakim and more about Bun B and Pimp C. The team’s third member, Erika Lewis, grew up in Michigan, but attended North Carolina A&T University, an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities. DJ Square Biz attended Florida A&M University, Alzo Slade attended Praire View A&M University in Texas) where parties similar to Grits & Biscuits are commonplace.

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