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'Sisqo's Shakedown' an MTV hit

'Bandstand' meets 'Dance Fever' in swimsuits at beach

SAN DIEGO — Unlike most Southern California beachgoers, Susie Nguyen isn't looking for a place in the sun.

She's one of hundreds of young people flocking to the beach this summer to dance.

Thanks to MTV's new daily dance competition "Sisqo's Shakedown" — an "American Bandstand" meets "Dance Fever" with a lot of flesh and attitude — San Diego's Mission Beach has become an outdoor dance club. The program airs weekdays at 3 p.m.

Part dance competition, part dance lessons, it has turned those able to get on the show into local celebrities.

"It's the 15-minutes-of-fame thing," said Nguyen, 21, of her almost daily trek to a defunct oceanside bar-and grill-turned-MTV studio. "I get to dance, meet great people and have an awesome summer. Who wouldn't want to do this?"

The dancers, mostly local teens and young adults, have been cast by MTV staffers who hit dance clubs and bars and blanket the beach and boardwalk with leaflets as they look for the right people to be on the show.

The only requirements: an ability to dance and wear hip swimwear. The pay: unlimited dancing to the latest hits and a lunch of bottled water and Domino's pizza.

"This is real. These are real kids who love to perform," said Mike Powers, MTV's West Coast producer. "We don't tell them what to do. They get on stage and dance. It's all them."

"Sisqo's Shakedown" is second in popularity among MTV loyalists behind "Total Request Live," a daily countdown of the top 10 music videos selected by viewers.

"People are really getting into it," said rap artist Sisqo, formerly of the group Dru Hill.

Conceived originally as a one-time summer program, the show may become a regular part of the network's lineup, says MTV.

"They've tapped into something with it," said MTV's West Coast host Dave Holmes. "Everybody loves to dance."

Whatever the reason for its success, those who want to dance on the show have reasons that range from the simple to the obvious.

For dancer Tarnita Woodard, 18, of San Diego, the draw is the celebrities.

"I'm a Sisqo fanatic. He gave me a hug," she said, breaking into a broad smile. "He's so nice."

For others, it's the opportunity to be there.

"We actually did it just for fun. Me and my girlfriend got picked out of a dance competition in Las Vegas, so we got in the car and came here," said Farrah Hines, 22.

For still others, it's the dancing.

"Dancing is my passion," said Nguyen. "I'm an international business student at San Diego State. That's my future. But this, this is fun for a summer."

During the recent taping of the Shakedown finals, which repeat Saturday at 6 a.m., hundreds of young people crowded the stage.

At stake: a one-time prize of $10,000.

To warm up the group, the DJs spun well-known group dances: the electric slide and the macarena.

Then it got serious.

"OK guys, take your shirts off," boomed a voice over a microphone.

With everyone in some type of beach wear, the music blared and the competition began.

The dancers gyrated and shook to the sounds of hip hop and pop songs.

Two men holding cans of body spray paint made their way through the crowded dance floor, spraying an "X" on those who didn't have the right moves and an "S" on those who did.

Onlookers crowding the beach boardwalk cheered those still dancing into the early evening hours.

"I watched it on TV back home, and when I came here for vacation, I'm like 'I gotta go see it,' " said Jim Dubina, 18, of Phoenix. "It looks different than it does on TV."