The Jit was born on the streets of Detroit, Michigan in the 1970s. This dance, though uniquely Detroit, displays some elements of African dance, modern, jazz and tap. The fast moves, fancy footwork, and acrobatic moves give the dance its flavor. While the name might sound familiar, don’t be misled. The Detroit Jit did not get its origin from the 1920s swing dance, the Jitterbug. The originators of the Detroit Jit mention that while the name is similar, the Jit is its own entity. The documentary entitled Jitterbugs: Pioneers of the Jit highlights the creators of the dance, the McGhee brothers. Tracey McGhee, one of the creators of the dance, states that when they were younger, the older men in the neighborhood would catch them hanging out or getting into mischief and referred to them as jitterbugs. The name stuck. [Source: The Jitterbugs: Pioneers of the Jit, 2014, produced by Haleem “Stringz” Rasul Al-Rasheed]
Even though the Jit started in the streets of Detroit and was originally affiliated with gang culture, over the years it has become more popular and can be experienced in a variety of circles. Most recently, the McGhee Brothers and Mike Manson aka “Mike Manson That Be Dancin” performed the Jit on the stage of the popular Fox Dance Competition series, “So You Think You Can Dance.” This put the Jit in the spotlight on a national stage.
On a local level, the Detroit Jit legacy has continued and is now gaining more notoriety. One can find Jit classes, workshops, and performances going on throughout the city. The Jitmasters is the latest entity to add to this culture.