The small Alabama town of Semmes is getting a lot of attention for a group of performers recently featured in their Christmas parade. The “Prancing Elites,” self-described as an all-male African-American gay dance team from Mobile, Alabama, marched at the tail end of the Semmes 13th Annual Christmas Parade. The five-member troupe was decked out in white hot pants, Santa hats and red coats to the shocked reaction of some residents.
Team captain, Kentrell Collins, told AL.com they received what he thought were words of encouragement from an older man directing the procession who said, “’If anybody says anything to you, don’t stop moving, keep going.’” The Prancing Elites completed an official parade application and were invited to perform by the organizers, so they were under the impression that they were welcome. Kentrell, also a U.S. Army veteran, explained his conversation with the parade organizer to WALA Fox 10, "I said we're all over 21 and we're guys. She was so excited. She was like, ‘I didn't know they had any groups like that in Mobile.’"
However when the group proceeded down the parade route, the crowd reaction wasn’t exactly warm. "Some of them were saying stuff like, ‘Oh my God, like what's that?’" said member Adrian Clemons. Parade-goer Claudia Davis told the station, "I was outraged and appalled. And I never expect anything like this at the Semmes Christmas parade."
While their outfits may be considered over the top, video of the Prancing Elites in the Semmes parade doesn’t seem to depict dance moves that are worthy of complaints that the routines were “vulgar,” as one organizer described them. The team’s J-Setting style of dance is described by the group as a “lead and follow style of hip hop dance, characterized by cheerleading-style sharp movements to eight-beat count music.”
In response the complaints, Kentrell said, "We do want to say we apologize if we offended anybody who did not know who we were before today. But still at the end of the day, we only just came to dance. I mean we did get invited.” The Prancing Elites were created because males weren’t allowed to audition for Mobile dance teams, so the group is use to overcoming obstacles, but dancer Jerel Maddox said, "I would rather you pull us to the side and say you know, ‘Hey that's probably not a good idea for you guys.’ Okay we, you know, we can accept it.”The controversy after the Semmes Christmas Parade has not deterred the Prancing Elites, who will be performing on New Year’s Eve, in upcoming Mobile Mardi Gras parades, and according to AL.com, are in talks to appear on a reality tv show. Jerel summed up the group’s passion and drive in an interview shot earlier this year, “Be who you are. Embrace who you are. Love what you do and just do it to the fullest.”