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Popping (a.k.a. hitting) is a funk dance and street dance style based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the dancer's body, referred to as a pop or a hit. This is normally done continuously to the rhythm of a song in combination with other movements.[1]

Popping is also used as an umbrella term for a group of illusionary dance styles and techniques that are often combined with popping to create a more varied performance.

It's generally believed that the dance evolved in California in the 1970s and was originally inspired by locking.[2] It was later incorporated into both the hip hop- and electronica dance scenes.



In the late 1970s a popping group called Electric Boogaloos (earlier known as the Electronic Boogaloo Lockers) made popping and some of its related styles famous by performing on the television program called Soul Train. The Electric Boogaloos themselves state that their founder Boogaloo Sam came up with the popping technique and the basics of the electric boogaloo dance style in 1975, after being inspired by one of the pioneer locking groups known as The Lockers.[1]

Most sources from famous and old generation poppers, and people who were alive during the time, agree that the Electric Boogaloos came up with the foundations of popping and some of its related styles,[2] while some argue that popping existed in other areas of California in the late 1960s, before Electric Boogaloos was started.[3]

The mainstream media greatly confused the naming structure of the funk style dances by calling it breakdancing. The movie Breakin' and Michael Jackson's popularity contributed to the naming confusion as moonwalking (known as backsliding in popping terminology) came to be associated with breakdancing instead of popping.

Techniques and styles

There are a number of techniques and styles that are often combined with popping to enhance the dancer's performance and create a more varied show. When using popping as an umbrella term, these can also be considered a part of popping.

A style and a technique that attempt to imitate film characters being animated by stop motion. The technique consists of moving rigidly and jerky, using the strobing technique of halting at very small intervals or tensing of muscles, to make it appear as the dancer has been animated frame by frame. The resulting motion is also reminiscent of strobing, but with the intention of impersonating stop-motion characters and not, as in strobing, the movement itself. This style was heavily inspired by the dynamation films created by Ray Harryhausen.[4]
Boogaloo/electric boogaloo
A fluid leg-oriented style utilizing rolls of the hips, knees and head. This style was created and made famous by the Electric Boogaloos.
Dime stopping
A technique of moving at a steady pace and then abruptly coming to a halt, as if attempting to stop on a dime. This is often combined with a pop at the beginning and/or end of the movement.
Floating, gliding and sliding
A set of footwork-oriented techniques that attempt to create the illusion that the dancer's body is floating smoothly across the floor, or that the legs are walking while the dancer travels in unexpected directions.
Liquid dancing
An illusionary dance style that focuses on flowing and continuous liquid-like motions, with concentration on the fingers, hands and arms. It is stylistically connected to and often mixed with waving. Liquid dancing is common in rave culture, and some dancers consider it a complete style of its own.
The technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to create a jerking effect (a pop or hit) in the dancer's body. Popping can be concentrated to specific body parts, creating variants such as arm pops, leg pops, chest pops and neck pops.[4]
A style imitating a puppet tied to strings. Normally performed alone or with a partner acting as the puppet master pulling the strings.
The robot is a style imitating a dancing robot or mannequin.
Slow motion 
Moving very slowly with exagerrated movements to make it appear as if the dancer is viewed in slow motion.
Using the same principle as dime stopping, but movements between halts should be shorter, and as quick and regular as possible to give the impression that the dancer is moving within a strobe light.
A way of popping where the dancer pops at very small intervals.
Tutting/King Tut
Inspired by the art of Ancient Egypt, tutting exploits the body's ability to create geometric positions and movements, predominately with the use of right angles.
Tensing muscles very hard, causing them to shake or vibrate.
Waving is composed of a series of fluid movements that give the appearance that a wave is travelling through the dancer's body. It is often mixed with liquid dancing.

Notable poppers

David "Elsewhere" Bernal
Michael "Boogaloo Shrimp" Chambers[5]
Steffan "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente
Bruno "Poppin Taco" Falcon[5]
Timothy "Poppin Pete" Solomon[6]


  1. ^ a b Electric Boogaloos. The Birth of Popping and Boogaloo Style. "Funk Styles" History & Knowledge. URL accessed on 2006-05-15.
  2. ^ a b Holman, Michael (10 1984). History, Breaking and the New York City Breakers. Freundlich Books. ISBN 0881910163. URL accessed 2006-05-15. The Fantastic Poppers. Popping. Knowledge & Articles. URL accessed on 2006-05-15. The Twilight Players. Hall Of Fame. The Dance. URL accessed on 2006-05-15. Thomas Guzman-Sanchez of Chain Reaction. History Of A Forgotten Era. Underground Dance Masters. URL accessed on 2006-05-15. SpaceCapital at Interview with Bopping Andre. Interviews. URL accessed on 2006-05-15.
  3. ^ SpaceCapital at Interview with Scooby from California. Interviews. URL accessed on 2006-05-15.
  4. ^ a b Mr. Wiggles. Move Lessons. Dance Lessons. URL accessed on 2006-05-16.
  5. ^ a b Full cast for Breakin' at IMDB
  6. ^ Poppin' Pete's page at the Electric Boogaloos

External links

  • The Electric Boogaloos Boogaloo Sam of the Electric Boogaloos claims he is the creator of the style of popping we see today and of Boogaloo Style Popping
  • Mr. Wiggles The website of Mr. Wiggles of The Electric Boogaloos
  • Represents popping/hitting from a Hip-Hop perspective.
  • Mass Destruction One of the few popping crews in Europe.
  • Nachopop Nachopop is a Sydney based popper and DJ
Street dance
Hip hop dance - Popping

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