Hip Hop Dance is a broad category that includes a variety of styles. The older dance styles that were created in the 1970s include uprock, breaking, and the funk styles. Breaking was created in The Bronx, New York, incorporating dances that were popular in the 1960s and early 1970s in African-American and Latino communities. In its earliest form, it began as elaborations on James Brown‘s “Good Foot” dance which came out in 1972. Breaking at this period was not primarily floor-oriented as seen today; it started out as toprock which dancers perform while standing up. An influence on toprock was uprock which was created in Brooklyn, New York. Uprock looks similar to toprock, but it is more aggressive and looks like a fight. Uprock is also performed with partners, but in toprock—and in breaking in general—each person takes turns dancing. In 1973, DJ Kool Herc invented the break beat. A break beat is a rhythmic, musical interlude of a song that has been looped over and over again to extend that instrumental solo. Kool Herc did this to provide a means for dancers who attended his parties to demonstrate their skills. B-boy and b-girl stands for “break-boy” and “break-girl”; b-boys and b-girls dance to the break of a record. Further influenced by martial arts and gymnastics, breaking went from being a purely upright dance style—toprock only—to becoming more floor-oriented.
At the same time breaking was developing in New York, other styles were being created in California. The funk styles refers to several street dance styles created in California in the 1970s such as roboting, bopping, hitting, locking, bustin’, popping, electric boogaloo, strutting, sac-ing, and dime-stopping. Out of all of these dances, boogaloo is one of the oldest. It started out as a 1960s fad dance and was the subject of several songs released during that time such as “Do the Boogaloo” and “My Baby Likes to Boogaloo”. From being a fad, it developed into a dance style called electric boogaloo and a music genre called Latin boogaloo. The most popular and widely practiced of the funk styles are locking and popping. The television show Soul Train played a large role in giving these styles commercial exposure. Both The Lockers and The Electric Boogaloos—dance crews responsible for the spread of locking and popping—performed on this show.
It is historically inaccurate to say that the funk styles were always considered hip-hop. The funk styles were adopted into hip-hop in large part due to the media. Once hip-hop activist and DJ, Afrika Bambaataa, used the word “hip-hop” in a magazine interview in 1982, “hip hop dance” became an umbrella term encompassing all of these styles. Due to the amount of attention locking and popping were receiving, the media brought these styles under the “breakdance” label causing confusion about their origin. They were created on the west coast independent from breaking and were originally danced to funk music rather than hip-hop music.
As breaking, locking, and popping gained popularity in the 1980’s, hip hop social dancing (party dancing) started to develop. Novelty and fad dances such as the Roger Rabbit, the Cabbage Patch, and the Worm appeared in the 1980s followed by the Humpty dance and the Running Man in the 1990s. The music of the day was the driving force in the development of these dances. For example, the 1980s rap group Gucci Crew II had a song called “The Cabbage Patch” that the dance of the same name was based on. 2000s era social dances include the Cha Cha Slide, the Cat Daddy, and the Dougie. The previously mentioned dances are a sample of the many that have appeared since hip-hop developed into a distinct dance style. Like hip-hop music, hip-hop social dancing continues to change as new songs are released and new dances are created to accompany them.