A VIEW FROM MY WINDOW: The Amazing World Of Dance
Dance is the backbone of most of our music and the core of our recreational joy. Everyone recognizes the dancers. They know their style and can even tell their era of influence by their moves. Most people do not recognize their faces and do not know their names. Dancers have “street names”. Sometimes people have heard a catchy name like Shabba-doo, Skeeter Rabbit, Fluky Luke, Poppin’ Pete, and Slim Robot, but they do not know the story. Sadly, most dancers do not know legal names or backstories. I will pull the curtain back and give a glimpse into dancers, styles, and colorful personalities. Dancers are athletes. They train, they practice, and they live a life apart from the crowd as they pursue those powerful adrenalin moments under the stage lights like any other athlete. It is time for everyone to see them in a new light.
Hip-hop, or Street Dance evolved from a rhythmic style of music that grew from urban culture. Hip-hop dance is a synthesis of many styles of dance based on music with heavy bass and a cadence in the verbiage. The music is compelling, bringing immediate response. Street Dance is a broad category that includes multiple styles that evolved as a part of the hip-hop culture. Various styles emerged in the 70’s, beginning as an extension of James Brown’s “Good Foot” dance, which debuted in 1972. Breaking was not floor oriented in its early stages but started as “toprock”. “Uprock”, created in Brooklyn was a strong influence. In 1973, DJ Kool Herc created the break beat. A break beat is a rhythmic combination looped over and over to extend the instrumental solo, providing a showcase for dancers who attended house parties. Martial arts and gymnastics synthesized with dance and hip-hop evolved into a floor-oriented style.
California styles and beats grew independently as “funk styles”. Referred to as “street dance”, styles known as locking, popping, robotting, bopping, bustin’, boogaloo, strutting and dime-stopping. Boogaloo is the oldest. It started in the 1960’s as a fad dance and became Boogaloo in Oakland, CA. A separate music genre called Latin boogaloo emerged at the same time. The Lockers and The Electric Boogaloo overtook other styles due to dance crews’ influence. The West Coast styles were created independent from breaking and were danced to funk, not hip-hop.
The West Coast had the weekly television show, Soul Train, films, Breakin’, Beat Street and Wild Style to give the style power and visibility introducing this genre to the public. The dance industry responded by creating studio versions of the moves. Artists brought choreographers and synchronized group moves to accentuate songs, giving birth to “jazz-funk”. Classically trained dancers learned the patterns, but even Michael Jackson fused “street dancers” into his sizzling music performances.
In the meantime, Hip-hop or street dancers continued to develop their styles. Dance battles took place at clubs, changing the sound of the club and attracting athletes who competed to win money. Bar populations evolved into athletic young people who demanded their style of music. Live bands and dance floors began to attract or repel dancers. The power of dance changed music and the way the public experiences music. Music and dance took on a new energy as dance contests owned the night. Hip-hop owned the night.