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Breakdance: Dummy's Guide to Popping, Locking, and Bboying

Dummy's Guide to Popping, Locking, and Bboying
Ever wanted to know more about popping, locking, and bboying? It's always important to be educated about different dance styles so you can be knowledgeable and also to not speak out of your ass. You might have seen something in movies or heard your friends talk about it, so this is a quick guide to all these things.

Funk Styles

Popping and locking are considered to be funk dance styles. Why? Because they originated in the early 70's and were danced to funk music. Contrary to popular belief, they aren't hip-hop dances although both are done to hip-hop (and other types of music).

Popping (Note: There are many, many, terms for this dance form, depending on region, time, place, and person, and the author does not claim to speak for them all).

Popping is one of the better known underground dance styles - well at least certain parts of it.

Popping (the word) itself is used to describe what is known as a hit. You tense you muscles in a short spasm; you "pop" it for a brief moment. If you do your whole body, it's called a "hit". It makes your entire body freeze for a little bit, and gives the aspect of a controlled jolt.

Popping is also a general term used to describe a whole lot of styles: ticking, strobing, animation, waving, struttin, saccin, filmore, bottin, tutting, gliding, boogooloo. Whewwww.... And there's a lot more!

It wasn't always this way. Ticking was ticking, waving was waving, and someone who did a lot of these styles was a bad-ass. This happened all around, but most people point to New York or Los Angeles area where all of this grew first, quickly spreading around.

Here is a short run down on each of common styles.

Waving - Making it look like you got energy running through making it look like you have a ball of energy going from your hand to your foot or whatever. Or you have a constant wave going through your entire body.

Strobing - Moving in a way that makes it seem like you are under a strobe light. For example, walking, brushing hair.

Ticking - Dancing in a way that makes it look like you are under a strobe light. Strobing and ticking are both commonly confused even by experienced poppers.

(ro)bottin - Making it look like you are a robot. You see this in commercials and movies all the time.

Gliding/Floats - Making it look like you are on ice and "gliding" around... but you aren't! A really famous one is Michael Jackson doing the moon walk.

Tutting - Making it look like you are an egyption hieroglyphic. It usually involves making your elbow and wrist bent 90 degrees. Boxing (a new term) describes inner tuts - but a lot of old skoolers look at you funny if you call it that. Filmore is doing all of this except with your wrists straightened out.

Styles of popping:

Boogooloo is the dance version of popping. It looks like you are dancing, and a lot of times you won't even know they are popping except their dance looks like it takes a lot of skill. Animation is popping to make it look like you are a cartoon. It's supposed to look unreal. Boogooloo and Animation will both incorporate the above styles.

Other terms include stuttin' and saccin' (both types of steps or walks).


Locking was invented by Don Cambellock. It's a very energetic, "funky" dance. It involves a lot of locks (or a freeze, very similar to a "hit". You also "lock" your elbow, to make it look like the crazy chicken dance), points (to point at people cheering for you), and acrobatics (crazy stunts. He also said that he fell down and played it off and people thought it was part of the dance). You can also do funny poses.

Locking in general is a very entertaining dance to watch. The original cambellockers (the first crew Don Cambellock formed to dance around the country), wore crazy customs and did a lot of funny trademark stuff like shaking hands and jumping over each other.

Of course, with time, dancing changes, becomes added onto, and there are many different styles of locking.



Bboys (people who bboy) sneer at ordinary people calling their dance breakdancing (which they deem to be the commercialized bastardation of the word). But some great bboys still call it breaking or breakdancing or any number of names depending on the region.

Bboying itself is a dance spawned by the hip-hop era. It involves the top-rock or up-rock (which is the dance you do to clear space around you), and once you are on the ground (using the 6-step), a variety of ground movement, and acrobatic power moves. BBoying can be defined by stylistics and power moves (and sometimes both). Stylistics is being on beat, whether something is a particularly clever move, how "artistic" something is. Power moves are what most of the people think of when they hear "break dancing". It involves spinning on your head, windmills, and the other crazy shit we all want to do as kids.

There is a great debate about what's more important, but the gist of the argument is that a lot of people has forgotten stylistics and will just learn crowd pleasing power moves. These people say that people don't learn how to dance anymore which is extremely important, but just do head spins and windmills and Other-Cool-Shit-That's-Hard moves.

Some excellent poppers call what they do pop-locking from the day they started popping decades ago. That may be the case and it is agreed that the definitions of any word is variable depending on where you are from. Therefore, the author takes the most common held position, that popping is popping and locking is locking, simply because there is a definable root for locking that's more clear.

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