A term for popular a reggaeton dance is added to Spanish-language dictionary : NPR

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STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

This is the time of year when dictionaries tell us which new words they have accepted as legitimate. And it’s also the time of the year when we hear from the Royal Spanish Academy, which oversees the Spanish language. Among the new words added this year is one that’s been around for decades. Anamaria Sayre from NPR’s Alt.Latino explains.

ANAMARIA SAYRE, BYLINE: Anything from your Bad Bunnies.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “YO PERREO SOLA”)

BAD BUNNY: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: You Karol G’s.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “WATATI”)

KAROL G: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: If you’ve ever heard them on the radio or listen to them at a party, you likely have danced something close to what is a perreo.

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

The Academy defined perreo as a dance that is generally performed to the rhythm of reggaeton, with erotic movements of the hips. Got that? And when danced by couples, I am told, one dancer is usually found behind the other with their bodies very close together, so basically twerking.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DADDY YANKEE: When I see the twerking, I said, yeah, that’s perreo.

UNIDENTIFIED DJ: Right?

DADDY YANKEE: Yeah. Of course.

INSKEEP: That’s reggaeton star Daddy Yankee talking years ago with LA’s Power 106 radio station about perreo and twerking.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DADDY YANKEE: That’s the American way of perreo.

MARTIN: The style of dance gained popularity in Puerto Rico and then quickly caught on around the world. Sayre says the acceptance of the word perreo solidifies the dance’s place in reggaeton music.

SAYRE: It’s kind of like a living, breathing history lesson in both revolution and subversion. It’s something that was not traditionally seen as approved or as high class even. It was – kind of emerged from the underground.

INSKEEP: Some artists use the dance as a way to reclaim power.

SAYRE: “Yo Quiero Bailar” comes to mind by Ivy Queen.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “YO QUIERO BAILAR”)

IVY QUEEN: (Singing in Spanish).

SAYRE: She’s a supreme feminist in the genre, and it really kind of was, like, the ultimate indicator that the woman is in charge and that this is a female-dominated dance, which I think forever changed both the genre and the dance itself.

MARTIN: But for Sayre, the acceptance of perreo is bittersweet, as it highlights the complicated history of the dance.

SAYRE: It’s, like, this really beautiful exemplar of all of the difficult parts of colonization and how to turn something beautiful out of something that people in power don’t want to see become beautiful. And so it’s a really incredible thing to watch a journey like this from the ’90s till now.

INSKEEP: Again, the word is perreo, P-E-R-R-E-O.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, “YO PERREO SOLA”)

NESI: (Singing in Spanish).

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