Afua Kouyate graduated from Garfield in 1976 and has been dancing in the event with The Original Throwbacks for the past four years. She participated with her daughter, Nialah Harris, who is 8 months pregnant. Harris danced with the New Generation Throwbacks and also helped coach the Cleveland High School team and the original Throwbacks team.
Multiple generations of families packed the Garfield gym stands to watch the dancers perform. Some teams used props, including umbrellas. But most just worked together to tell a story through their choreography. The audience seemed to have a special appreciation for the Throwback teams.
“Bubblin Brown is so fun,” said Cutonja Vann, a high schooler in the mid-1980s and a Throwbacks dancer now. “When you’re in that gym, it’s amazing. It’s unifying because you see so many generations. You come to one place, at one time and you’re all on one accord. It’s just beautiful to have fun, go back to your culture and ethnicity and your roots.”
She said performing with the Throwbacks was like going back in time.
The high school competitors included Highline, Federal Way, Renton, Franklin, Garfield, Rainier Beach and Cleveland. Cleveland, the defending champ, opened its routine with the song “This is America” — and it scored top honors again. It also took home a plaque for crowd favorite. Garfield took second place and Renton came in third.