Detroit is Home of Grit and Jit: Local Groups Keeps Dance Cultured Alive

Detroit is known for many things, from our musical sound of Motown to our drive as an automotive powerhouse; we’re a town with grit and creativity. And out of that creativity, the popular Detroit dance genre of Jit was born.


The Jit was a dance started by three brothers in the 1970s who became known as the “jitterbugs.” One of the brothers, Tracey McGhee, would tell WBUR that it all began as a dance by gangers.


“Back then we were criminals, sometimes we’d get out of the cars and start dancing, then it evolved to basement parties,” he said.


According to the outlet, McGhee expressed how he and his brothers would become so well known for their jit dance moves and routines that they would eventually land roles touring auto shows and helping sell cars as they danced in front of them.


Not to be confused with Chicago’s “Footwork” or “Steppin’” dance styles, the jit dance consists of fast footwork, flips, kicks, somebody drops, and a blend of styles that became very popular in the street and dance scene over time.


A local dance group has been working to keep this genre of dance and culture alive both here at home and internationally for generations to come.


“We’ve been just trying to find different way and avenues to keep pushing the culture,” said James Broxton, one of the co-founders of House of Jit.


House of Jit is a collective group of artists specializing in Detroit’s footwork style represented in their name.


The company was created in 2019 and founded by three dancers who share a common passion for Jit: Michael Manson (Mike Manson That Be Dancing), James Broxton, and Lilanie Karunanayake (First Lady of House of Jit).


“Nowadays these kids have a short attention span and only want to do the new stuff. But we have a team that is both introducing a young generation to this throwback style while also bringing back memories of a generation who once celebrated this style and culture,” Braxton said.


Their mission as a company is to plant Detroit Jit into the mainstream and pass the iconic Detroit style down to the up-and-coming dancing artists in the city. Michael Manson and James Broxton showcased Jit to the sports world as NBA dancers, where they danced alongside artists such as Flo’Rida, Bell Biv Devoe, Bobby Brown, Mc Hammer, and many more.


Manson, the founder, was featured on a television show called So You Think You Can Dance, showcasing Detroit Jit. He was also able to take Jit around the world, such as Europe and South America. He won two grants for his visual arts at the Detroit Jit: 2020 Kresge Fellowship and 2022 Joyce Foundation Awards.


Braxton’s and Manson’s bond and camaraderie don’t just show on the dance floor, as it’s been through years of friendship and bonding to perfect each other’s craft.


“My love for dace and jit started off with Michal as my best friend in high school,” Braxton says. “I was just fortunate enough to be one of his friends and he taught me how to jit from scratch. I wanted to learn because he wanted to teach. He wanted to help build a culture and once I found a deep love for it, we started branching off and teach it to other people.”


House of Jit began to make many accomplishments, from their live performance with the hip-hop duo Black Violin to a video collaboration with Footlocker Detroit.


Over the years, the company has been expanding. House of Jit added lifelong friends and teammates Mike “Flash” Reed, James “J ‘King” Terry, and Karief “DJ Primetime” Walker.


Gabby McLeod, known as the Queen of Detroit Jit, joined the team to help carry out the company’s mission. Gabby danced alongside Mason and Braxton for many years, starting on the NBA dance team. She also won the Kresge Fellowship in 2022 for her accomplishments with the Jit.


Braxton describes Jit as a complete dance, with footwork and maneuvers of one’s whole body, a style which has excited a fan base and taken them out of state, one particular co-performance with Black Violin in Toledo, Ohio, earning them a viral moment online for the song, “Jammin’.”


The group has also performed with Detroit rapper Trick-Trick.


“One of the fascinating things I found out later in life, House music was started in Detroit but as music started to change then Ghetto tech started to emerge and we were all jitting to it back in the day, but little did we know Trick Trick, DJ Godfather, Good Money, and others created the music we jit and danced to.”


Other members that have joined are, Malaino “Asap” Ross, Deha “Sae Cheeze” Brownleaf, Marcel Bonds, Tristan Hutchinson, Sadiyah “Adora Boo” Terry, Carly Mitchell, and Crishten Anguinaga.


The objective is to continue to spread the Detroit Jit culture as a way to preserve Detroit culture, especially amongst the youth in the city.


“Our goal is to keep Jit alive and for it to be internationally recognized. Multiple members of our group have already taken it around the world, but this grind and consistency will keep our genre relevant and ultimately accepted,” Mason added.



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