[Editor's Note: Writer Jessica A. Koslow is a USC master's student writing her thesis on krumping. Know Your L.A. Hip-Hop Dances explores some of the most popular street dances in our city.]


Popping is harder than it looks: Like a robot, or even a mime, your body is stiff and you move slower than usual. The trick is contracting your muscles to create a “pop,” or jerking motion.

Background: Boogaloo Sam of The Electric Boogaloos from Fresno is credited with inventing and naming popping in the late '70s. The dance has its roots in funk and was inspired by popular late '60s dances like the robot and James Brown's “Popcorn”. One style of popping is called “tutting,” after Egyptian pharaoh Tutankhamun, in which dancers interpret Egyptian hieroglyphics.

Popping hit big in 1984 after being featured in the movie Breakin'. In fact, people often think popping and locking are styles of breakdancing. Though they're often incorporated into b-boyin', that style focuses on floorwork, while popping tends to be done while standing.

Remember Ozone and Turbo, Breakin''s two cool street stylers? While Ozone was a locker, Turbo — aka Michael “Boogaloo Shrimp” Chambers — was a popper. Then 17, he grew famous for his Broom Dance, above, which Dave Chappelle parodied in 2003 on his Comedy Central show.

Michael Jackson made locking famous, and he did the same thing with popping. In fact, his signature step — the Moonwalk — is based in the style. The Moonwalk actually looks like the '60s era Camel Walk in reverse, embellished with MJ's popping sensibilities. Folks like Usher, Chris Brown, and Ne-Yo have been known to put a pop or two in their routines. But nobody does it like Mike, below.

Whereas poppers used to dance mainly to funk and disco, nowadays they usually use hip-hop, electro, new wave and industrial. As popping travels the globe and evolves, dancers are constantly adding new moves to its vocabulary.

Machine Gone Funk, for example, is a popping crew bridging the gap between the old and new schools. Here's their video for “In Your System.”

This New Year's, while you're popping bottles, why not do some popping as well?

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