The smiling young woman took center stage, hands stretched toward the children in the audience at the West End House Boys and Girls Club, shoulders dipping in time to the first beats of “Teach Me How To Dougie.” She called for applause, and as a cheer went up, the kids sprang from the wooden floor. In seconds, she was surrounded, as she almost always was, by children.
“Come on up!” Dawnn Jaffier shouted, and the line of dancers grew. They planted their feet, shimmied their hips, and bent low at their knees. Jaffier pretended to lasso someone in the audience and mimed pulling the child up on stage.
In less than 24 hours, Jaffier would lie bleeding to death on a Dorchester street.
But in this moment, just past 3 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, the weekend still beckoned with the promise of all-day celebration at the Caribbean festival. Jaffier, 26, was planning her costume; her bag was full of gold glitter and spray paint. She smiled when she thought of it.
First, she had to see her kids off. They were always telling her jokes, showing her dance moves, following her around. Jaffier, her boyfriend said later, was like the leader of a little school of fish. After her dancers nailed their routines, 16-year-old Shelby Jean-Pierre found her in the dance studio and taught her the “Shmoney Dance,” the two young women giggling while they rocked their hips and stepped their feet.
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