Back in the day, it was all about the b-boys, b-girls and the poppers and lockers. My brother used to get cardboard boxes from a downtown liquor store so that me and my friends could breakdance for change (which all went into his pocket). The kids these days have their own dance moves — though it all flows from the same continuum that reaches way back to the Lindy Hop and beyond. Hell, this West Coast kid can still Uncle Sam point like nobody’s business. Though these days I need to stretch first.
YouTube may be the best thing to happen to modern dance in ages, and consider this a celebration of the sublime primacy of the African-American community in that tradition. Warning: blue lyrics and infectious enthusiasm may not be safe for work.
The first clip comes from my backyard, the Yay Area, where the style is Hyphy. Keak da Sneak coined the phrase and E-40 popularized it. In this clip, the Oakland Athletics’ mascot Stomper “Gets Dumb” and shows the crowd how it’s done.
Down in the Southland, it’s been about Clownin’ and Krumpin’. The movement led by Tommy the Clown was taken worldwide by the David LaChappelle documentary Rize. This clip features Tommy and his crew at a high school pep rally. It’s fundamental showmanship, people.
If you were paying attention, you might have caught how the last cats “let it rain and spread it out.” The hip-hop connection is from three thousand miles away in Harlem, where the kids are cooking up Chicken Noodle Soup. DJ Webstar got the production credit for the movement’s anthem. I’ll take mine with a soda on the side, please!
While the Dirty Dirty South is mostly known for gettin’ crunk in Hotlanta, in Memphis Buckin’s the trend. According to the b-boy forums, it may have derived from the Gangsta Walk of a generation ago, but another town lays prior claim…
Bringing it all back around to the Lindy era, Motor City USA claims that they’ve been jittin’ since the Hoover administration. It’s a balletic style that feels freshly ageless. As though dancing was as old as humanity and as unique as the dancer or something.