You Can't Out-Do Black People: Soul Train, Queer Witnessing, and Pleasurable Competition

Melissa Blanco

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter focuses on a viral video featuring commentary playing over an episode of the US syndicated show Soul Train. The particular queer black commentary in the video addresses the outfits, dances, and individual expression of each dancer as s/he struts down the line. At one point, the narrator Darrell Hunt proudly states, “You can’t out-do black people!” What is it that cannot be out-done? What types of pleasures, affective expressions, and collective structures of feeling emerge from the witnessing and circulation of this viral video? Part of the discussion will also address how such communities celebrate blackness as something of value, worth collecting, and competitively viable. Hunt’s affective analysis of the black bodies dancing is particularly relevant given the recent #BlackLivesMatter movement and the continual devaluation of black bodies globally. If neoliberalism celebrates competition and individuality, how does black collective pleasure, mediated through a queer aesthetic and affective lens, actually out-do the emotionally devastating effects of capitalism?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Oxford Handbook of Dance and Competition
EditorsSherril Dodds
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusPublished - 2018


  • black queer affect
  • neoliberalism
  • black popular dance
  • dance competition
  • Soul Train

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