In this week’s edition of NEXT UP, I had the privilege and opportunity to talk to one of the most well-known social media personalities in the world of dancing in Hip-Hop culture, Mr. YouTube. Mr. YouTube, also known as the ‘King of Lite Feet’ chatted with us about the origin of his name, his signature moves on the dance floor, and how he has managed to continue to build his brand during this Pandemic period.
What was the inspiration behind the name Mr. YouTube?
The name Mr. YouTube comes from the creator of lite feet who is AG the voice of Harlem and he kind of rephrased it. At the time it was just a term for freestyling, dancing, having a good time, big energy, things like that. And, back in 2004 or 2005, I was at a basketball tournament and had already put 2 videos on YT so I already had 2 videos on YT That gained a lot of attraction before the viral era. So, at this basketball tournament, I get noticed and introduced myself to AG the voice Harlem. He was like we already know who you are, you’re the kid from YT that everybody is talking about and go crazy for”.He was like “we’re going to call you MR YouTube”, so it was like a moment thing and it kinda starts from there.
When did you start getting into dancing and why? Did you start in 2004/2005 or way before?
I began dancing at 16 but it was in 2004 that I really get into dancing. I was actually at a party. At the time, we had these teen parties. You know, lite feet dance culture, in the beginning, we called it uptown dance culture and that’s the Bronx NY ground and Harlem. A lot of things originated in Harlem, but were directly connected to the Bronx because we were so tightly connected from the way we dress from how we dance to the DJ’s the music the sound. So, in 2004, I was introduced to a dance called Tournoi and that kinda motivated me and inspired me to actually wanna dance. I wasn’t dancing before that. Of course, I saw videos and watched people like Michael Jackson, who was one of my biggest inspirations at an early age. And, then, moving forward, people like Usher. I was always into everything that has dance-related in it. I was always into it when I wasn’t a dancer. Just to be able to witness that type of energy that really motivated me to go into dancing and to learn. The funny thing about it is that I never took a class. Me being able to travel around the world and teaching and doing things like that now is a blessing. I’m a self-taught dancer, so I had to learn left from right how my body moves, what I can do and cannot do. I used to sustain a lot of injuries because I wasn’t comfortable in my body, I was learning so much… even with just dancing and music stuff like that.
Where are you staying actually? Do you move often to NY?
I’m in the UK right now in a place called Darlington which is maybe 3 hours out from London, but I’m still back and forth. I have been here the majority of the time, but I still go back to NY, I still have a place there.
When did you realize that you made it as a viral social media dance choreographer? Was it in 2005?
No, because I was never a choreographer and I still don’t necessarily consider myself as a choreographer; I feel like I’m in between because I was always a freestyle dancer and an entertainer, I liked to perform. Even when we performed we had small choreographies that were more or so freestyle; just showcasing my individual moves and of course, I got a team so they would showcase their moves.
Moving forward, I started teaching consistently about 3-4 years ago; it’s when I started doing more choreography with my lite feet, with my dance. Because I already had all these moves and skill sets but I never put them into a formula applying to music, seeing other people doing it. About 2-3 years ago, it really took off for me like really big. In 2019? I did a class IN LA and the video just really took off really crazy for me. Since that point, I’ve been gaining a lot of attention, meeting a lot of different people, and connecting into the overall dance world from all sides; from the choreography side to the freestyle street side I got a lot from both so I kinda be like in the middle.
Which dancers did you admire growing up and are there influences of their style in your choreography? I understand that you were a big fan of Michael Jackson.
I never watched a lot of dance I just watched what was mainstream like on TV or music network such as MTV. My main inspirations were people like Michael Jackson, Usher, and even Chris Brown. I was introduced to him and into my lite feet choreography, we actually met and became good friends. Those mainstream artists were my inspiration in an early stage. As I’ve grown and learned, I connected with so many different people, I gain inspiration from multiple different things. I just find motivation in anybody cause I’m really respectful of their craft and doing it at a high level, I have a great work ethic. It can be sport-related, motivational speaking, many different things motivate me besides just dance.
It’s a combination of both. I have such a large vocab with my lite feet and growing up I wasn’t listening to rap music or hip-hop. Most of the time I was listening to R&B cause that’s what my parents were into so like my groove and everything that I do, I am very conscious of my feel, the music, and the soul. And that’s where the majority of my style comes from. Aside from the powerful moves that I have, the big energy, it’s a combination of that hip-hop feel; from the look, the dance, the DJs, it’s about that overall energy that hip-hop brings. And I still maintain a new school flavor in it that new school essence that I have, what lite feet is, and who I am. The underline, the ambition of my style is more soul, R&B feel. I love dancing to attract and add that real good feel to it. This feeling just actually makes me want to dance. Even if I am doing nothing major, or exert too much energy, it’s just that feeling that feels good. That’s the most important thing for me with my style. And, I can’t say that it has always been like that, that’s even more prominent as I’ve grown and learned a lot more to just absorb the music.
What’s your signature move on the dance floor?
I got a few signature moves. Traditionally, people would say that my traditional move is the kiss of death, which is a real impact power type of move that requires flexibility, traveling to the ground, and just being explosive. That’s one thing about my style, I like to be unpredictable, being explosive just to keep the audience on edge, guessing, and entertained. For me now, It’s a lot of different tone-lapse and reversals; I just like to play around with those. These are all dance styles, sub-galleries inside of lite feet. I’m just able to feel the music in my confidence. Because the more that I feel, and the better I feel about the movement and especially how I look; because I am very particular about how I am dressed and my style and things like that so if I’m looking good and feeling good, then I’m dancing good. That’s the most important thing for me now.
It’s like feeling all the space when you’re dancing, as it’s a really energetic dance with many techniques.
I also saw in your bio you have a tag for Da-Lite House Community, which is a Zoom class that you host every Saturday. Can you tell us a bit about how that came together and how any of our readers who may be interested in signing up be able to?
So, the lite house is an online dance session at the moment, but moving forward it’ll be more interactive. It started back in 2008/2009 and it was just me doing dance sessions from my apartment at the time living down there in the Bronx. Everybody would come from all over even out from NYC, from New Jersey, Long Island, and Harlem. They came just to dance and just train and it was just a hub for lite feel and if you wanted to elevate what the lite feet dance style is all about, that was the place you need to be because you had dancers like myself who was like the spearhead of the movement, the dance style was going in. And, you had dancers that were part of my crew who you can connect and learn from and build your craft. I wanted to bring that back because it had such a big impact on culture. At the time we were in, I was doing Zoom sessions and I didn’t start doing zoom sessions until last year when the pandemic happened. The sessions did really well, and I took a break doing zoom sessions because I was zoomed out. You know, when you do something too much too consistently, it kind of loses its value and its lust to it. So, I didn’t want to do that, I have always prided myself on reinventing, being fresh and innovative, and original. I only came back with the approach of doing a zoom class because I wanted to go with the dean and the model of lite house which is more than just a class. It’s more interactive sessions, it’s a session where we can watch dancers grow, they can watch other dancers, and be as interactive as possible in terms of this. So that’s how we came up with the lite house idea and this is going really well. We’re about two months in maybe. We’ve had some dance teachers. The person that helps me with all the lite house business is Anna and she assists me and she’s teaching also. It’s a really immersive and interactive thing and that’s always been my goal. Anybody that’s around me, I always wanted to uplift them. Make sure that they’re always evolving and doing things that they love to do. And also getting the attention and credit for it. Having the spotlight and this attention on myself, I always wanted to build everybody around me. We got over 200 students and probably now over 300 students who came in the past 2 months. We have our loyal students that train every week.
Marie: I see… With the pandemic, the community is even growing faster so that’s a wonderful thing.
Mr. YouTube: Yeah, and these times are really tough because I witnessed a lot of dancers who stopped dancing or you don’t really see them that much because you’re not around them, you’re not traveling. But I think that with this and through ZOOM, we’re able to keep dancers motivated and active, and also be ready for when we’ll be able again to travel and connect in person
I reckon that it takes a lot of time and effort to not only run your social media pages, a weekly Zoom dance class, and a Merch collection. So, do you have a team of people or is it just Anna that helps you out with all of these different projects?
I don’t have many, but as I said, I have Anna, who helps to manage me and everything that’s related to me as far as getting in contact with me, etc. But I also have other people helping me like my dance crew, Anna’s mother, and my mother… You know, just family, family-oriented things. I have a few endorsements that I can’t really speak on but I really have a large community of people that really appreciate who I am and what I do, and what I bring to the dance community and culture that continues to uplift me and push me, I just try to be the best that I can be in front of the camera.
If I understood you correctly, one of your long-term goals would be to give dance sessions live. What are your other long-term goals as a dancer and dance choreographer?
Yeah for sure. Right now, it’s really about building the Lite House Academy and staying socially active. I really would like to rebuild my YT (YouTube) platform, because I have my own YT channel but it got deleted. But all those things take time and a lot of effort. I’d really like to chill on my energy towards IG at the moment; that’s where I have my biggest following. I want to put Lite feet in a spot that can allow that dance not just to last in the dance culture, but to actually flourish and continue to grow, to evolve. So, I just want to build other people up. A long-term goal would maybe be having my own school or institute.
Is there anybody out there within the dancing community that you would like to collab with?
Oh yeah, I got a few. There are so many. Of course, I’ve done some work with Shay (Shay Latukolan)
I worked with him in Amsterdam. And, I would always love to collab with him because his vision, creativity, and his feel for dances is something that I appreciate watching.
There’s another dancer named Toby (Toby Deedaran) that I admire from his crew to the way he moves. I remember watching him before I even knew about him and I was like “oh this dude is dope”. And we didn’t even formally meet yet, but I look forward to collaborating with him
There’s a lot of french dancers I’d like to collaborate with too. It’s so many dope individuals out there
And without being indiscreet, could you give us some of your favorite french dancers?
I got a lot of french dancers that I like. But more the street style, freestyle dancers, like Bouboo he’s a dancer that I watch frequently. There are so many, but I really think that french dancers are dope, they go really hard and their skills are high level. And of course, my friend Bruce, who is the owner of just a boo, I went there in France for “just a boo” week before the pandemic hit. I didn’t get the chance to do the main dance stage and battle event because they couldn’t have it, but I was able to teach the whole week and that energy was just dope you know.
I wanna be more connected in Asia; my Asia following and community is filled with people from China, Japan, India… I’ve been to China for a 3 city tour in 2019 but I look forward to going back there. Anywhere I could be, I feel like there are dancers all around the world.
I see that you have a link in your bio for Mr. YouTube merch. Can you tell us a bit about how that came about and what is your long-term vision for your merch collection?
The vision is really building a brand, of course, I’m into fashion; I love to dress nice and buy nice things. Classic stuff back in the 90’s; that’s the era where I come from. That’s the real inspiration behind it, we have so many different ideas, be ready to roll out a bunch of different things. Maintain integrity and quality of the brand; I’m really about quality. I just don’t do anything, just “because”; I have first to like it.
As far as the merch right now, we have hoodies and long-sleeve t-shirts. It’s the stuff I feel like more comfortable dancing in.
Moving forward, we’ll be doing t-shirts coming for the spring/summertime, just staying fresh and original. I enjoy wearing so many different brands. I have my favorite, I look at those brands and how they’re able to continue to grow and try to follow that model.
What are your favorite brands?
My favorite brands are Nike of course, Billionaire Boys Club, and Supreme. These are the things that I wear, Jordan brand, there are so many brands. I‘m just into anything that has that fresh look to it that fresh feel. Montclair, OffWhite, all of that brands that are really popular now but I don’t wear them because they’re popular but because I enjoy their designs. Sometimes the price point is a little bit too high but that just motivates me to work towards being able to afford these things because growing up I had different things my parents wouldn’t pay that price for it. Oh, Bape is my favorite brand also.
If I understood you well, your brand is more for the dancers and those who enjoy sporty aesthetics?
Yeah, I love to dress up too, I love to wear jeans, more fitted jeans and different things like that. I like to keep it cool and I think it’s really dope to have a matching top and bottom. Right now I am wearing a matching Nike tracksuit I think that’s always a clean look for dancers. Maybe that might be coming soon too for the merch.
Marie: That’s dope. I’m a dancer too, but I don’t do this type of dance yet. But maybe I’ll try to initiate myself to this type of dance.
Mr.YouTube: Listen, If you’re interested to look at the trends and even I don’t know what your Saturday schedule is like but I do my lite house dance sessions every Saturday. And like I said it offers so many things in an hour and a half. It offers a class, we always go over the techniques, a combo, or a choreo (choreography) set. And from here you can be around other dancers that are freestyling, talking, communicating, sharing music ideas, and stuff like that. So if you’re interested in getting more into the style aside from what you might come across on Instagram and social media you should join the lite house if you try to just get in and enjoy. We’re also looking to do beginner and advanced classes because now it’s all mixed.
As a dancer, what does True Urban Culture mean to you?
Without urban culture, there’s no international culture.
Everything that we’re talking about, from hip-hop to house to like all of these dance styles from the sound, the music, the feel, that comes from urban culture. We take it and pass it off. It’s what I am doing right now with the Lite House at the moment and I love it.
I love that the international community have such appreciation and love for urban culture
But yeah, it”s the process, it’s the struggle. There’s a lot of dope people that come from the urban culture that don’t get recognition quite as much as other people do. But urban culture is the best culture for me and I want to continue to give the knowledge that I have coming from NYC, coming from the main source of what hip-hop is and was and will be. Moving forward, I love to connect with everybody, seeing that people are involving and evolving with dance hip-hop. We just need more of that, of that unity and community and people taking the time to reinvest into the source. With social media and everything, a lot of things just got lost in the shuffle; the biggest influencers, innovators within the culture are kind of like washed out and there’s no attention on themselves.
For anyone coming across this, just do things the right way, be pure with yourself. If you’re influenced, don’t be scared to tell people you’re influenced by this person.
Thank you for having me, I appreciate the interview. If anybody comes across this interview, I’m Mr. YouTube, one of the creators, innovators of the style called lite feet established in 2006. And just continue to connect with the source, If you want to connect with me, feel free to hit me up on my social media platforms at @mryoutube or you can hit me up on my Lite house Instagram, the Lite House, and @dalitehouselfc, Lfc is for Lite feet community, cause that’s what we do, continue to look good, feel good, dance good. I see you guys soon!
To conclude, if you’re interested in learning a new type of dance or improving your skills, meeting tons of dancers worldwide, then you should go check Mr. YouTube’s accounts and why not take one of his classes? As he said, be pure with yourself.