Posts Tagged ‘digits’

Featuring: Eric from Liquid Pop Collective

June 19, 2010 3 comments

When I first saw a dancer do handflows, I thought the hands looked like two fish chasing each other. I didn’t even understand properly what I had seen. I found out what the move was called (much later) after stumbling upon a tutorial for liquid and digitz made by a group called Liquid Pop Collective. The most impressive handflow was contours. The way your one hand flowed over the surface of your other immovable hand, like water over a rock. Then your flowing hand became solid, and the cycle would repeat. The true expression of the liquid metal approach.

At the time, I wasn’t particularly interested in dancing or electronic music (the German scene back then was terrible), but I rediscovered the video a few weeks back and payed more attention to it. Contours caught my eye again. I searched around and found the following clip. It was unused footage for the tutorial, starring crew member Eric. This took the finger flow to a new level.

I recently contacted Eric and interviewed him for this feature. He answered my questions and provided some additional literature on the electro scene (you can read the email correspondence in my previous, separate post below.

Eric was born in New Jersey, about 25 minutes from New York. He went with his older cousin to his first NYC party in 1993 and fell in with the electronic party scene. He explained that there were two separate dance cultures for electronic music in NY, the club scene and the rave scene. The clubs included the Tunnel, Lime Light, Sound Factory, Twilo, Shelter and Outback Jacks. The raves could be held anywhere, sometimes at abandoned buildings without any permits. The scene gained momentum, and club owners started to pursue the rave crowd. Sometimes they would contact the authorities and make them shut down the illegal parties, then have promoters stand outside the rave and distribute promotional fliers for their clubs to the exiting crowd. Thus, the two scenes began to mingle.

Two years later, Eric came in contact with liquid dancing.

The first time I seen a style of liquid that really moved me was in 1995 at a club north of Philly
called Outback Jacks. They had a small Sunday night party that I found when I first moved to Philly. This is here I met a girl named Chrissie who absolutely had the most unique style of liquid I had ever seen up until that point. She incorporated her whole body into her flow. She is the genesis for what my style is today and part of her still lives in my flow. She totally changed my perspective on what liquid could be.

Unlike the popping scene, competition didn’t play a big part in the evolution of the dance.

There were a million of casual dancers who happily rave skipped the night away. I would say between the serious folks like myself it was a matter a pride and respect. When someone had dope liquid it was more of a respect thing because no one was forcing you to be good at liquid but you. There are dancing jerks in every dance scene, who sole purpose in life was to make themselves feel better by belittling the person next to them.

Eric wrote to me that he never practiced at home or took lessons to improve his liquid (although he did take some classes for popping). Instead, he went to the clubs five days a night and danced up to eight hours for a period of ten years. Regarding advice he would give to novice dancers, he answered in the same vein as David Elsewhere.

BE YOURSELF. YOU DONT NEED TO LOOK LIKE ANYONE ELSE. If you like something take it and make it your own. Find you own flavor be unique LISTEN to the music and let it move you.

Drugs became ubiquitous in this scene, and a substantial part of the crowd were young middle class people with income to spare on Ecstacy or whatever else. This attracted criminal gangs to the scene, and violence became a huge risk. The most infamous gang was the BTS crew It was a loosely organised gang with no formal initiation rites, ethnic boundaries, or any particular rules of conduct (except not stealing from fellow crew members). They would often sell fake drugs by selling mints or spray painting pills. At clubs, they pick-pocketed the clubgoers on the dance floor, or scouted for other drug dealers so they could steal the drugs from that dealer. For more information, read this article

This slowly led to people avoiding the scene, which was the beginning of the end. In 2002, the US senate passed the RAVE Act to counter youth drug use. The penalties for organizing such raves were so stiff they killed off the scene. NY mayor Rudolf Guilani took a hard stance against the clubs in his effort to clean up the city from undesirable elements, and many of the most prominent clubs could not sustain themselves after the 9/11 attacks paralysed the club scene in NY.

Before the scene died out, Eric recorded a short clip of him dancing in the Philadelphia club Space in 1999. He posted it on Napster, which was in its prime as a file-sharing medium. The clip became one of the viral videos of the pre-Youtube era.

In 2000, he met the dancers who later form the Liquid Pop Collective crew. The response of the clip overwhelmed the LPC crew, and they started discussing the idea to produce a tutorial on the dance. Eric eventually took out a ten grand loan to do so and involved a core team of LPC dancers. Ricardo Rivera (aka VJ Kaboom) directed the video (he now owns and Imri Meritt did the sleeve art and music soundtrack (he now runs

The tutorial was a success, but the LPC broke up soon after. I asked Eric why. He wrote me a three word reply: money and ego.

As to other dancers who continue the tradition of liquid and digits, he pointed to the community. He also made sure to mention the Liquid Lights crew, particularly crew member Tiny Love, who predated the LPC by a few years.

I ended the interview by asking him to describe his most memorable moment in dancing.

Wow, that is hard. I would have to say a yearly party called Starscape thrown by Ultra world down in Baltimore. I think the party was in 2003. I was with my future wife and all the LPC guys. We watched the sun come up out on the dock over the water ( this dock was destroyed during a hurricane in 2004) to the sound track of MOS DEF’S UMI says. It was surreal after a full night of dancing together. Those are the moments I miss the most now a days…

More interviews to follow, plus another entry in the Looking Elsewhere series coming up. If you’d like to receive updates, click on the RSS feed button.


Featuring: Poppin John

June 5, 2010 4 comments

Being asked to choose my favourite dancer makes me uncomfortable, because I feel that I am disrespecting all of the dancers who have influenced me in their own different ways. But I can answer the question if it is posed a little differently. “Which dancer has the strength and qualities that you want to attain?” or “If you could only watch and learn from one dancer, who might that one be?”

In these cases, my answer comes without reservations: Poppin John. Isolations, dime stops, speed control, variety of styles. He excels in all of them. He happens to incorporate my favourite styles (what luck!), and his moves are always spot-on perfect.

Me stringing a line of praise and superlatives may come off as unconvincing, even disingenuous. So let me provide video footage of John’s dancing and point out why they blow me away like no other dancer. I embedded the videos so that they cut immediately to the part I want to discuss. That means that I’m going to post a lot of videos, but you don’t have to watch the entire clip (that’s your own choice afterwards).

My favourite moves involve head-and-chest isolations. I learned them first before attempting anything else.  A small number of dancers do it, but I have never seen anyone pull it off like Poppin John. Below you can see what I like to call “chicken head”

and here you can see what I like to call “head swipe” or “madd headd” (after Madd Chadd).

Note how isolated his head is from his neck and chest, and that it remains so even when he takes steps (not just standing around).

How about arm and body waves? No worries, that’s his specialty.

His footwork is varied and original. Look at his floating and gliding skills.

This clip below forced me to learn liquid hand waves.

Strobing is perhaps my greatest love, and there’s so little of it around (thank God for David Elsewhere, Tyson Eberly, Madd Chadd, and Flat Top). The best strobers are those that strobe more than just their arms.

I’m not the biggest fan of finger tutting, but tell me if this doesn’t bring a smile to your face.

Speed control. Moving your body real fast, then incredibly slow, perhaps even stopping on a dime, then going into overdrive again. Often overlooked, but it’s real important to build up contrasts in your dancing. That will make your dancing stand out. Check out his shoulders in this clip.

Too bad there’s no interview planned. That’d be too crazy, right?
You’d be surprised. Stay tuned for more.