The night before the official 50th birthday of hip-hop, it was my birthday. There were many things I could have done that night, and trust me, I’d done plenty that day. I’d gone to brunch, finally went to see the Barbie movie, napped — all the things I wanted to freely do but struggle to find the free time for because of work and childcare needs. But with my husband on duty, I set out for my biggest birthday activity of the whole day, and an experience I won’t soon forget. I took a break from ripping and running on land to dance on the water.
In honor of the 50th anniversary of hip-hop, which was birthed in New York City (the Bronx specifically), the city’s beloved sightseeing boat tour, Circle Line, teamed up with the Universal Hip Hop Museum to celebrate the occasion. So how does a boat tour celebrate hip-hop? Well, the company tapped DJ Spinderella, the legendary DJ for Salt-N-Pepa, to play some classic tunes. Those tunes just happened to be an homage to the work of Missy Elliott, including songs she sampled and produced. This was done because Elliott recently became the first woman in the genre to be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. A momentous feat during a very special year. So Elliott’s music was the focus of the night, but so too were her dance moves.
As the Circle Line boat cast off into the Hudson River to the sounds of Miss Supa Dupa Fly herself, performer Byron Freeman of B. Free Dance taught those present some choreography from her past videos.
It was a time. I didn’t partake in the choreography because I wasn’t dressed for that — some came dolled up, others came in workout gear to dance — but I did two-step to some of my favorite Missy songs with a drink in my hand all night (the cruise was from 7:30 to 9:30 so not all night). I made new “friends” and ran into old ones as the boat went around NYC landmarks, and when Spinderella hit the ones and twos, I couldn’t contain my excitement, or my amateur dance moves.
Circle Line has become popular not only for their sightseeing tours of course, but also for the dance parties they have on them nowadays. The recent Beyoncé dance party was a huge success, as was an ode to Taylor Swift. So how did they end up having a night to honor hip-hop and Missy?
“Honestly, it wasn’t the original plan,” says Shainna Tucker, the marketing coordinator for Circle Line. It was just supposed to be, we’re going to get a DJ, play some Missy Elliott music. And when I tell you, I emailed Spinderella’s team and the Hip Hop Museum on a whim with a vision and an idea? That’s literally what it was. I was like, ‘Hey guys, I have an idea!'”
Both parties were on board, and Circle Line decided the best way to honor the genre through the event was by offering a portion of their profits from the night to the Universal Hip Hop Museum. The goal is to help them continue their work in educating people on the history and brilliance of hip-hop music and culture.
“If we’re going to throw a cruise to honor the genre, we should be connected to the people who are living and curating the genre,” says Tucker.
As photos show, people danced the night away under the stars, fully immersed in the fun of event. It was such a great time had by all that Tucker says she hopes to continue with a hip-hop cruise and take it a step further.
“I would love to have an actual Hip-Hop Circle Line cruise where instead of doing our regular historical New York facts, it would be Hip-hop facts about the city of New York,” she shares. She plans to keep the company connected to the Museum in the hopes of making that happen.
Whenever that comes to fruition, I’ll certainly be the first in line with my ticket. Until then, check out more photos from the celebration. Happy belated birthday to hip-hop (and to me, a hip-hop lover).