This weekend Beyonce Giselle-Knowles Carter snatched all our edges with a larger than life performance at Coachella, 100% dedicated to historically black college and universities (HBCU). As the first African American woman to headline the festival, you know she had to represent the culture. She did NOT disappoint. The performance featured marching bands, majorettes, dance lines, and a drum major. She even added in the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing” for good measure. It was literally the blackest thing we’ve seen since we left Wakanda.
So if you haven’t even stepped across the hump at Southern University in Baton Rouge,Louisiana, it’s basically like this:
Yes, that’s the band director, high-level academic officials, and instructors jigging alongside band members. It’s basically lit AF, all the time. Beyonce tapped into the vibe of HBCU life but specifically took some notes from the Jaguars from Scott’s Bluff. Let’s break down how Beyonce’s performance came straight from the ‘Yard’ in Baton Rouge.
1.The Marching Band:
One of the staples of Southern University is the Southern University Human Jukebox. It’s known for playing a myriad of music styles and electrifying performances. If you look close at Beyonce’s performance, you can see a variety of elements that were taken from the Human Jukebox’s playbook.
Beyonce’s introduction began with a second line sound complete with a drum major intro. The dancers ( with HBCU dance line one-legged unitards) led the way for Queen B to make her entrance with her Nefertiti Balmain leotard with a drum-major cape.
@fashionbombdaily on IG
If her introduction song sounds familiar, it should. The song is a slowed down version of “Do Whatcha Wanna”. You may have heard this song being played anywhere in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, but Southern University football fans know that this is a “second fight song” for the Jaguars. It is played after first downs, touchdowns, and anytime the Human Jukebox wants to end a show with the entire crowd on it’s feet.
A pivotal element of Beyonce’s show was the lively marching band behind her. They played, danced, and even had a drum line exhibition included and for a second I could have sworn I was at Bayou Classic.
Two things any non-band heads could have easily missed:
The “Ayye-Oh” that Beyonce’s marching band was chanting is one of the hallmarks of Southern’s Human Jukebox.
One of the intermission songs between sets performed by her back up marching band was “Hay In The Middle of the Barn”, a Human Jukebox classic played since the 90s!
BandTube on Youtube
2. The Probate-Style Stepshow:
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I think it’s safe to say that if Bey had attended college, she would have been in a sorority. Not only did Beyonce have an entire Greek probate in performance (with line names associated with her song titles) but she had an entire step show!
@theculturesupplier on IG
What one can appreciate about the use of the Greek-inspired elements, was its authenticity. Anyone that’s been to a probate on the yard of Southern University can tell you about the crazy line names, the greetings for the dean of pledges, and the funny skits made to entertain the chapter members. Beyonce flawlessly acted out the probate set, as if she was a student on the yard herself. It may have helped that she had members of the divine nine in her performance.
Beyonce’s use of her name to create her own Greek-letter organization shows that she’s been paying attention to an average Wednesday on SU’s campus. Right near the union is where the pretty girls of Alpha Kappa Alpha and devastating Divas of Delta Sigma Theta perform yard shows similar to the hair-swinging, in your face attitude in Beyonce’s performance.
3. The Dolls (I mean, the dancers)
Beyonce (or her choreographer) loves the Southern University Dancing Dolls. This is not up for debate or question. This is not the first time she’s “sampled” the dolls catch-ons. (stand routines)
There was in the video for Diva, where a Dancing Doll catch-on (in Doll-style) turned up:
Who Do I Turn To – SU Marching Band/Dancing Dolls 1993 @searcyt on Youtube
Diva – Beyonce (Youtube)
She also did the same thing in ‘Single Ladies’.
HBCU dance lines everywhere rejoiced when she used the ‘captain first, team after’ style of dance that can be seen at every HBCU game. Former SU Dolls D’tara Frank Malone, Danielle Stamper and others have danced alongside the Queen at her Superbowl performance in NOLA and were featured in her ‘Lemonade’ visual album. (I told you the girl loves the Dolls, okay?)
Well, Beyonce stuck to what works and gave us yet another Fabulous Dancing Doll count for her Coachella performance:
Beyonce at Coachella:
via Coachella Youtube Stream
Dancing Dolls circa 2017:
The entire set was made to resemble the stands found at HBCU games. The band dutifully in the back and the beautiful dancers right at the front. Beyonce didn’t hold back and played the ‘captain’ role again as she called off her eight counts which were repeated by her dancers. Not only was the catch-on used a repurposed Dancing Doll count, but she also used one of their famous sit-downs as well.
@beychella2 on IG
Lastly, one of the most overt resemblances between HBCU life and Beyonce’s performance was the iconic swag surf If you have been to an HBCU graduation or any event really, you’ve probably been apart of a random swag surf. Somehow F.L.Y.’s hit from 2009 has become the black graduate anthem. Beyonce found a way to integrate a groupwide swag surf reminiscent of the one that occurred at the Human Jukebox “Jammin with Jukebox” Event just a few weeks ago.
@theculturesupplier on IG
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To top it all off, Beyonce has expanded her scholarship program to give some lucky students 25,000 dollars to attend HBCUs.
I think it’s safe to say that someone in Beyonce’s camp has been taking notes on the best HBCU in the world. #DontDebateMeBro
If you haven’t seen the full 2-hour performance yet, head HERE.
**Updated 2:18 pm, April 16,2018**