‘This is not for the kids’: Big Freedia shakes up Bonnaroo 2017 with twerking lesson

Bonnaroo attendees twirk it out at Big Freedia's event on June 9, 2017. (Andrew Wigdor / MTSU Sidelines)

Story by Andrew Wigdor / MTSU Seigenthaler News Service

MANCHESTER, Tenn. — Big Freedia, the New Orleans native known for her bombastic “bounce” music, danced on to the Solar Stage at Bonnaroo on Friday to host an event called “Twerk it Out.”

As Bonnaroo attendees gathered around the Solar Stage, the DJ mixing music shouted, “Ya’ll ready to twerk with Big Freedia?!” The crowd erupted with shouts and chatter for the gender-fluid singer to take the stage.

“I’m here at the ‘Twerk it Out’ event because I love to dance, and it’s a great way to start the morning,” said Florida resident Christopher Kesler, 22. “I’m interested to see how well others do at twerking.”

“Big Freedia is a freaking queen,” said Georgia resident Kellie Momon, 27, who has been following Big Freedia’s music for a few years. “I love her and her show, and I’m ready to dance.”

After a few minutes, Big Freedia stepped onto the stage and began to instruct the audience on the ins, outs and shakes of how to properly twerk. Freedia had the help of her friends, Ronnie and Tootie, to demonstrate the various dance moves, including “The Swiggle,” “The Criss-Cross” and “The Peter Pan.”

The instruction began with some stretching and eventually transitioned into exercise moves and dances.

“It’s all in your hips. Your feet should not be moving,” Big Freedia said.

After the warmups, Big Freedia shouted: “For our next move, we are going to twerk … This is not for the kids.”

Big Freedia, Ronnie and Tootie demonstrated various twerking moves.

“Think about mixing a cake. Think about a mixing bowl,” Big Freedia urged.

Instructions to dancers included making wide circles with their bodies, “dribbling like a basketball” and “busting it open.”

Twerking 101 ended with the formation of a “twerk-out circle.”

Big Freedia called out two or three people at a time to twerk and dance. As audience members entered the circle, shaking and grinding, Freedia shouted encouragement: “Ass everywhere” and “Toot it up.”

Big Freedia ended the event with a finale rendition of her song, “Gin N’ My System,” which audience members knew by heart, shouting the lyrics along with her.

“It’s been a dream of mine to see her show, and today was amazing,” Tennessee resident Ema Wagner, 18, said. “It’s probably one of the best experiences I’ve had at Bonnaroo so far.”

For more Bonnaroo coverage, click here.

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