A small Alabama community got the shock of the season on Saturday when a group of scantily clad gay African American Santas took their Christmas parade route by storm.
The Prancing Elites, an all gay dance team known for their provocative moves and outfits, were confused by the invitation to walk the Semmes, Alabama (population 3,000) Christmas parade but swayed and thrust their way through outraged crowds nonetheless.
Parade organizers have since apologized for including the Prancing Elites, but the five gentlemen from Mobile think it was all just part of a day’s work.
‘It felt like a regular event,’ dance team leader Kentrell Collins, 26, said. ‘We were taking a risk, but we always do.’
The team arrived to Semmes and lined up ready to march in fur-trimmed, snug-fitting Santa outfits. Even as the gentleman, in full makeup and Santa hats, stripped off their sweat pants at the parade start, they raised some eyebrows.
‘I had no idea that they would be dressed the way they were and that they would think it’s appropriate for a community Christmas parade,’ said Karen McDuffie, who helped plan the event. ‘Their costumes and the style of dancing were inappropriate.’
The team specializes in J-Setting, a lead and follow style hip-hop dance style that involves movements some may find lurid or provocative.
As they strutted their stuff through the parade’s 1.7 mile stretch, many of those raised eyebrows deepened into scorn. McDuffie told AL.com the team’s dancing was ‘vulgar’ and ‘not appropriate for a children’s Christmas parade.’ She said outraged community members began to vent in phone calls and social media feeds within hours of the event and apologized on behalf of organizers. Suzanne Massingill, an advisor to the Prancing Elites, told AL.com that the group was under the, apparently mistaken, impression McDuffie had seen them on YouTube.
Meanwhile, the Prancing Elites themselves are not apologizing on behalf of anyone. ‘It’s OK for a woman to put on tights and play football but when a man wants to put on leotard and tights, it’s a problem,’ said Collins. ‘We are no different than any team out there dancing. We want people to stop looking at gender and focus on the talent.’
While many of the folks of Semmes were unable to appreciate it, the Prancing Elites’ talents have been acknowledge in some notable places. In June, Shaquille O’Neal took a liking one of their videos and tweeted it out. The video quickly gained some 200,000 views in just two days.
Since then, the group—which consists of Collins, Adrian Clemons, 23, Jerel Maddox, 23, Kareem Davis, 22, and Timothy Smith, 22—has appeared on the syndicated daytime talk show The Real, the Tom Joyner Show, and have auditioned for America’s Got Talent.
In 2014, they’re slated to appear in several Mardi Gras parades and are even looking for some new talent in the form of men who aren’t afraid to show their moves, no matter who’s watching.
‘I was trying to (have) tunnel vision,’ Kareem Davis said of Saturday’s appearance. ‘It takes a lot to do what we do.’
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