Turning the camera off

ViewFinder

ViewFinder

February 04, 2007|By Andre F. Chung | Andre F. Chung,Sun Staff

I spent a week at Baltimore's Edmondson-Westside High School last September, getting to know members of the school's football team and other students and photographing their lives in and out of school for a series of articles that ran last week on the challenges facing these inner-city students as they prepared for a football showdown with City College.

At Edmondson's Senior Inauguration dance the students let it all hang out. Nowadays teenagers do an explicit form of dancing called "freakin'," but it's a lot wilder than the "freakin' " I did as a teenager in the 80s. The dancing is something like a lap dance without the chair. All the kids know that they have gone well past standard conventions of decency, and that seems to be part of the appeal.

As I made a few photos, Tariq Jones, the star running back, left his dance partner (whom he wasn't freakin') and came across the dance floor shaking his head, telling me to stop. I put the camera down to talk to him, as he seemed very concerned.

Tariq is a devout Muslim who had attended Islamic schools before he came to Edmondson. He was very anxious about the way the students were dancing in front of the camera and didn't want it published.

"If my mom sees how they are dancing here," he explained, "she won't let me come out anymore."

A portfolio of other images taken by Sun photographers can be seen at www.baltimoresun.com/viewfinder.

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