Thursday 27 October 2016

'Young people are completely alienated from politics' - Richard Boyd Barrett explains why he dabbed in the Dáil

Meadhbh McGrath

Published 08/07/2016 | 10:11

Richard Boyd Barrett dabs in the Dáil.
Richard Boyd Barrett dabs in the Dáil.
Richard Boyd Barrett. Photo: Caroline Quinn

Following on from the spectacular display of his dabbing skills in the Dáil on Thursday, Richard Boyd Barrett has explained his dance moves as an attempt to engage young people in politics.

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Speaking on RTE Radio One’s Ryan Tubridy Show, the Dun Laoighaire TD said he dabbed to illustrated a point about the government’s Misuse of Drugs bill.

“The government’s policy when it comes to tackling drug abuse in young people is completely flawed. It fails to engage in any way with young people and the concerns they have or to give them the supports and resources they need. That is the point I was trying to make,” he said.

“It’s very, very obvious that an awful lot of young people are completely alienated from politics.

“In any election it’s clear that the biggest demographic that don’t vote and don’t engage with politics are young people. It’s our responsibility to engage young people.”

The AAA-PBP TD mentioned the cuts to youth outreach and support projects as a particular problem, arguing that such cuts “take away resources from young people and leave them with nothing to do”.

“It’s sort of hypocritical then to lament the fact that kids get involved in crime or drugs if you take away the supports and resources that they need to do other things,” he said.

When asked to explain what dabbing is, Mr Boyd Barrett said it was a “hip hop dance move” he had learned from his children and other young people in his area.

Richard Boyd Barrett. Photo: Caroline Quinn
Richard Boyd Barrett. Photo: Caroline Quinn

“Hip hop these days is really the cultural language of teenagers,” he said.

He referred to a dance school in Santry that his children had attended and that was struggling financially, saying: “They provide an amazing service for young people and give them a healthy outlet where they can learn about dance. Governments don’t seem to recognise the importance of these things.”

He added that the young people in his constituency had recommended he dab in the Dáil.

“The kids in my area said to me, ‘you should dab in the Dáil’. It was their suggestion and they said young people would listen, they would engage with that and it make them think about what you are doing in the Dáil and what you’re talking about.”

For those unfamiliar with ‘dabbing’, the viral dance craze involves a single move where you tuck your head in the crook of one arm while extending the other.

Originating in hip-hop culture in Atlanta, Georgia, dabbing was popularised by Vine videos and a cringe-inducing performance by US presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton on the Ellen show earlier this year.

Mr Boyd Barrett prefaced his dab on Thursday by explaining it was “something I promised some of the young people in my area that I’d do in the Dáil”.

“They asked me, ‘what do you guys do in there? Do you have any idea what’s going on?’ They asked me to do something, it’s a bit of street language from the street,” he said, before showing the room how to dab.

“When kids are trying to make a positive statement on the street, they do something like that.”

He added: “I don’t know what it means, but we need to learn what it means. We need to learn what young people are talking about, what matters to them, what they consider positive activity.

"We need to support them and fund them, instead of this misguided nonsense.”

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