Posts Tagged ‘westcoast popping’

New Otis Funkmeyer article on

September 3, 2010 Leave a comment

Our old friend Otis Funkmeyer started writing popping articles on again. You can read the entire article here, but let me give you a reader’s digest version with these three quotes that really blew my mind.

I realized recently that the way I was taught waving, the way I teach waving, the way every single person I have ever met (except PacMan) teaches the arm wave, is wrong. It’s not how the best wavers wave. Simple as that.
And it got me thinking. The best dancers are the best DANCERS. They aren’t necessarily the best teachers. But eventually, people come along and they go, shit, how do you do that?!!? And so the best dancers are forced to become teachers. But they don’t actually know how they do what they do, so they just try different ways of teaching. Eventually, one of them sticks, and they just run with it. Then their students get good and become teachers and this method, which was not necessarily even a good method, let alone the best method, becomes the standard way that things are taught.

What I’m trying to say is this. We all got taught popping wrong. The way I got taught is wrong. The way you got taught is wrong. It’s all wrong. You want the proof??? The way that people teach is NOT the way that people dance. When I was in Calgary in 2004 learning Electric Boogaloo Style Popping from Boogaloo Sam himself, he doesn’t dance like that. He doesn’t just do the fresno. He doesn’t actually dance like that. That’s just some routine he came up with. When you seen him dance, boy, that man was GANGSTA BOPPIN. Hard ass robot. Hard ass dimestops. Clean. Quick. Shakes. Everything HARD. The fresno doesn’t teach you that. It teaches you to be on beat. On rhythm. On time. Loose and funky. But not HARD.

The arm wave is the same way. All the best wavers I know curl their fingers as the wave comes out. Nobody does that dorky upside-down-V thing that is how the wave is always taught. Why? Because it doesn’t look as good. It looks better to curl your fingers on the way out.

See, the way I teach popping, the way I was taught popping, is that you should be loose and relaxed and then when it’s time to hit, you QUICKLY tense and then QUICKLY relax again. See, this is actually a very good way to teach Japanese people who can’t dance and White Americans who can dance even less than that. Because when we see popping, we get so damn tense it looks uncomfortable. But the problem is that the baby gets thrown away with the bathwater. The best dancers ALL have that tension. That’s part of the unreal looking of popping. Even boogaloo at its highest levels is dope because it DOESN’T LOOK REAL. If you don’t have the unreal, robotic, animated, gangsta look with your popping, you are partially missing the point.


Looking Elsewhere: Youtube is our friend and enemy

June 28, 2010 2 comments

This is the third entry in the David Elsewhere series where I analyse his training methods and philosophies. The quotes are derived from his myspace post.

Relying on my memory and not videos for reference – Like most people I have the natural tendency to subconsciously imitate movements I am frequently exposed to. I feel videos have the potential of doing more harm than good because multiple viewings make me more disposed to mimicry. Seeing Skywalker and Animation bust only on a few occasions prevented me from directly imitating them because all I had to go by was the memories in my head. Using memory alone as reference allows my creativity to manipulate external influence into something that is more of my own innovation.

This principle surprised me the most. If it weren’t for internet video clips, I never would have started dancing in the first place. For the first time in history, I have the ability to watch the greatest dancers in the world perform, no matter how remote i am from the hub of the dance community. I can receive expert tutorials without relying on dance teachers near my region. This is the first time that everyone in the world has access to this treasure trove of inspiring videos, and every dance style has the chance to spread like wild fire on a global scale. How could anyone denounce this?

But one issue nagged at me. Looking at the small selection of popping and bboy clips that survived from the late 70s and 80s, I am often in awe of the originality of the dancers. Granted, some elements of those dances may seem dated, even corny. But in other respects, the skill and creativity of the old school dancers overwhelmed me. The art of animation, vibration and floats/slides were more advanced in the 1980s then today.

And here’s the central question: How did the urban youth of the time, with almost no guidance from video clips or formal teachers, learn these incredible creative moves?

This question rose up again in my interview with Otis Funkmeyer. He wrote that having less access to footage proved to be an advantage for him and his fellow poppers. They were always “hungry”. Youtube offered too much eye-candy and didn’t produce the army of skilled dancers that he expected would come out of this trove of videos.

A few interviews with the OG poppers (from showed similar sentiments.

What do you think is the major differences between todays scene and before?

[…] We looked within our imagination. Many stylese came out in a short period of time, and those styles got flipped by the next person, you took the ball and ran with it your way. Today, many cats emulate thier dance from the sorce they are studing to learn it from. That, in my opinion, takes away some of the creative process that takes place when figuring out styles, moves, transitions, etc, yourself.

-Midnight, source

I think it’s all coo for videos and clips, but people have to remember to look at these clips for inspiration not for biting and copying verbatim. Peeps need to take from what they watch and twist it to there own sh^t. or if they are beginners, bite a lil until you are able to understand the dance better, and then change what you have bittin to your own sh&t.
Mr Wiggles, source.

We keep hearing that back in the day, no one danced like each other. Please explain.

First of all back then we didn’t have any video cameras to record different people we were lucky to ketch soul train so see the soul train line and watch the different dancers. […] everybody got there reps of there originality and being different.
-Shallow, source)

After long periods of reflection, I began to see some truth in these statements. I came up with a number of ways that people can abuse the dance clips that are meant to inspire us. I will come back to these and discuss them individually in later posts, but I will now focus on Elsewhere’s objection to mimicry. Elsewhere distrusts the ability to replay the clips over and over again, because it induces the viewer to mimic what he sees instead of inspiring them to take their style in a new direction. He elaborated on this in an interview with Oye Mag.

With all the people and dance styles that have come before you, how do you stay original?
That’s hard. I think that in the very beginning when most people start, it’s kind of necessary to copy people. But once your dancing matures I think videos can be a little unhelpful. You can watch them over and over again so you’re kind of brainwashing yourself into wanting to dance like that. I’m not saying that videos are a bad thing. I’m saying that they are good to some degree, but I just think that they are easily abused.

I like going to events and seeing someone dance, then going home and not being able to watch them again. When you don’t have the ability to watch something over and over again, your mind kind of manipulates the memory into something different. Then when you go home and have that vision in your head, it becomes your own interpretation.

Not being able to rewatch video clips therefore has advantages. It means that you may remember a cool move, but you can’t remember every aspect of the illusion. These gaps in your memory means that you have to stay inventive and come up with your own ways to achieve the illusion. In the process, you stay hungry and attentive. Your mind isn’t allowed to remain lazy because it can’t rely on mimicry. This process is more valuable then actually learning the move itself. It will feed into your originality, and give you the impetus to create your own moves and style.

Let’s look at an example that illustrates this. Mr Wiggles accidentally created his famous knee slide because of a misunderstanding. He heard that Popin Pete performed a moved called the knee slide. Mr Wiggles hadn’t seen Pete do it, but he assumed it was a back-slide (now called the moonwalk) performed on the knees. He practiced so long until he figured a way to pull it off. He did the move in the movie Beat Street and in a performance for the president.

It was only much later that he found out that Popin Pete’s knee slide was nothing like a knee moonwalk (it was more like the ET walk). Not being able to see the move even once, he used his imagination and created a completely new move.

I’m not saying to stop watching video clips altogether. They expand your understanding and can lead you into something new and exciting. Watch as many different clips of different styles for inspiration (I’ll come back to this point in Looking Elsewhere: Mixing Styles). But the clips can make you dependent and decouple you from your own imagination. Refrain from rewatching the same clips over and over again, because it will do you little good.

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