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Breakdance: Funk Styles History And Knowledge

Funk Styles History And Knowledge
Funk Styles or funk dance refer to dance styles that are primarily danced to funk music. More specifically they can be used for a group of street dance styles that originated in California in the 1970s, mainly popping and locking. Though these specific dance styles have today been incorporated into the hip hop culture to some extent, and are often seen danced to hip hop music and electronica as well, they were originally and are still commonly danced to funk music. One of the reasons that the term funk styles first appeared was to give these dances their own identity and avoid them being primarily associated with hip hop and breakdancing.

What is "Funk Styles"?

In the 80's when streetdancing blew up, the media often incorrectly used the term "breakdancing" as an umbrella term for most the streetdancing styles that they saw. What many people didn't know was this within these styles, other sub-cultures existed, each with their own identities.

Breakdancing, or b-boying as it is more appropriately known as, is known to have its roots in the east coast and was heavily influenced by break beats and hip hop. The term "funk styles" was coined to give what we do it's own identity and separate it from hip-hop. Popping, locking and boogaloo were styles that were created in the WEST COAST during the FUNK ERA, and while these styles were adopted into the hip-hop movement, its roots should still be recognized as pure funk. Hence the term, FUNK STYLES.

The Birth of Popping and Boogaloo Style

In a town called Fresno, California, there lived a shy boy named Sam. Inspired to create his own style of dance after seeing the original Lockers perform on TV, in 1975 Sam started putting together movements which later became known as boogaloo or boog style.

The name came from the old James Brown song "Do the Boogaloo". One day when Sam was dancing around the house, his uncle said "Boy, do that boogaloo!" A puzzled Sam asked his uncle, "What's boogaloo?". "That means you're gettin down" his uncle replied. From that day on he was known as Boogaloo Sam.

Not many people know what boogaloo style is or how to do it. Boogaloo is a fluid style that uses every part of the body. It involves using angles and incorporating fluid movements to make everything flow together, often using rolls of the hips, knees, head. Making your legs do wierd things, and covering a lot of space on stage using "walkouts" or other transitions to get from one spot to the next spot. Although it is described as fluid, please note that boogaloo is different from the style known as waving.

Popping was another style created by Sam. People get confused about what this style is. They think it is the name for all the styles that came out of the funk movement (1970's California). It is not. Popping is a style in itself, that involves snapping the legs back, and flexing your muscles continuously to the beat to give a jerky/snapping effect. Popping is a unique style. It's not the universal name for all the funk styles. If you pop, then you're a popper. If you wave, then you're a waver. If you Boogaloo, you're a boogalooer, and so on.

Sam would say the word "pop" (under his breath) every time he flexed while he danced, similar to the way someone might make machine noises when they do the robot, Sam would say the word "pop, pop, pop". People would always say to him, "Hey do that popping stuff!"

A lot of people ask what Electric Boogaloo style is. Electric Boogaloo style is combining popping and boogaloo style together. The two styles compliment each other well and is known worldwide as the signature style of the EB's.


While Sam was creating popping and boogaloo, others were creating and practicing unique styles of their own. Back in the day many different areas in the west coast were known for their own distinct styles, each with their own rich history behind them. Some of these areas included Oakland, Sacramento and San Fransisco.

Although the EB's primarily pop and boogaloo, we still like to mix it up and encourage all dancers out there to learn and mix other styles as well.

Some of these styles include:

Air posing
Crazy Legs
Dime Stopping Filmore
Scarecrow Snaking

The Electric Boogaloos would like to give respect to the other OGs and innovators of all styles who contributed to make the street dance scene what it is today. Keep the funk alive!

Boogaloo Sam

After seeing legendary group the Lockers perform on television, Sam was inspired to create his own dance style. Around the years of 1975-1976 Sam created a set of movements that evolved into the styles known today as popping and boogaloo (boog style). In 1977 Sam founded the Electronic Boogaloo Lockers, who later became known as the Electric Boogaloos.

Currently Sam is still getting down and is the active leader and member of the EB's. A true innovator of funk styles, Sam has helped push the boundaries to where they are today.


Locking is a dance created by Don Campbell who also formed a group called the Lockers. Dance moves within locking include:

Campbell Walk
Hand Claps
Floor Slaps
Lock Oil Wells
Funky Air Guitar
Earth Quake
Knee Drops
Scooby Doo
Skeeter Rabbits
Stop'N Go
Wrist Twirls
Uncle Sam Points
Locker Hand Shake


Tutting is the name given to a contemporary abstract interpretive dance style that exploits the body's ability to create geometric positions and movements, predominantly with the use of right angles. It is performed with minute attention to the musical rhythm, typically by altering positions in a stop-and-go fashion.

Though Tutting is currently a prevalent form in the closely related funk and electronic dance communities, its history, as with most dances, is not well documented.

'Tutting' referring to a distinct style gained usage with the advent of funk styles during the early 1980s. Within that community, dancers would use tutting poses while performing popping routines. One would 'hit' one position and then move immediately onto the next, similar in action to the robot popping routine only slightly faster. These movements made use of the wrists, elbows, and shoulders to create the desired right angle.

Presumably, the dance began as a mimicking of the angular poses common to ancient Egyptian art. In the early half of the 20th century, these poses were performed by various groups for comical effect (see the article Walking like an Egyptian). Tutting as a whole or certain tutting moves have been referred to as 'King Tut'; it is likely from this colloquialism for the Pharaoh Tutankhamun, as a representative of ancient Egypt in western popular culture, that the form gained its name. For this reason, Tutting is sometimes incorrectly identified as the related cultural phenomenon "Walking like an Egyptian".

Recent developments

Although tutting as a style has maintained its close ties to popping, it has since evolved to making use of a much wider range of positions and movements. The size of poses, or tuts, now varies from large body tuts to intricate finger tuts. The transitions between poses have become more elaborate and expressive. Moreover, certain substyles of tutting have emerged such as: boxing which consists of creating and manipulating box-like or rectangular shapes predominantly with ones arms; a liquid influenced style that some tutters use to make the joints appear as hinges that can then be manipulated by another bodypart; and fixed line which employs the mime concept of fixed point to create more convincing geometric illusions.

The electronic dance community has played a large role in the increasing robustness of tutting due to the more abstract nature of its own predominant style, liquiding. Tutting is now highly regarded in both the electronic and funk dance communities for its technical depth and distinctness to the extent that a sufficiently dedicated member from either may use it as their dominant style, and is occasionally referred to as a tutter. As such, practitioners of tutting will take from other funk styles in their performance, just as for instance, poppers would incorporate tutting in their own style during its formative years.


Both boxing and the hinge illusion are special applications of the mime concept fixed point. Another style, called fixed line, requires that dancers apply this concept rigorously to more convincingly convey the illusion of solid shapes. Much as a mime conveys a wall by always keeping one hand on the wall, or shows a rope by always keeping one hand on the rope, a tutter shows a shape by always maintaining at least one side of the shape. To do this, a tutter will use his body parts to assemble a shape segment by segment and dissasemble it in the same piecemeal fashion.

With practice this method can be used to create elaborate geometric patterns. When these patterns are formed only with the arms the effect is similar to boxing as described above, but now tutters are learning to incorporate all of their body parts to create a more dramatic effect.
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