“Funk Styles”

Post added: September 5th, 2010 in dance-styles category.

What is “Funk Styles”?

In the 80′s when streetdancing blew up, the media often incorrectly used the term “breakdancing” as an umbrella term for most the streetdancing styles that they saw. What many people didn’t know was this within these styles, other sub-cultures existed, each with their own identities.

Breakdancing, or b-boying as it is more appropriately known as, is known to have its roots in the east coast and was heavily influenced by break beats and hip hop. The term “funk styles” was coined to give what we do it’s own identity and separate it from hip-hop. Popping, locking and boogaloo were styles that were created in the WEST COAST during the FUNK ERA, and while these styles were adopted into the hip-hop movement, its roots should still be recognized as pure funk. Hence the term, FUNK STYLES.

The Birth of Popping and Boogaloo Style

In a town called Fresno, California, there lived a shy boy named Sam. Inspired to create his own style of dance after seeing the original Lockers perform on TV, in 1975 Sam started putting together movements which later became known as boogaloo or boog style.

The name came from the old James Brown song “Do the Boogaloo”. One day when Sam was dancing around the house, his uncle said “Boy, do that boogaloo!” A puzzled Sam asked his uncle, “What’s boogaloo?”. “That means you’re gettin down” his uncle replied. From that day on he was known as Boogaloo Sam.

Not many people know what boogaloo style is or how to do it. Boogaloo is a fluid style that uses every part of the body. It involves using angles and incorporating fluid movements to make everything flow together, often using rolls of the hips, knees, head. Making your legs do wierd things, and covering a lot of space on stage using “walkouts” or other transitions to get from one spot to the next spot. Although it is described as fluid, please note that boogaloo is different from the style known as waving.

Popping was another style created by Sam. People get confused about what this style is. They think it is the name for all the styles that came out of the funk movement (1970′s California). It is not. Popping is a style in itself, that involves snapping the legs back, and flexing your muscles continuously to the beat to give a jerky/snapping effect. Popping is a unique style. It’s not the universal name for all the funk styles. If you pop, then you’re a popper. If you wave, then you’re a waver. If you Boogaloo, you’re a boogalooer, and so on.

Sam would say the word “pop” (under his breath) every time he flexed while he danced, similar to the way someone might make machine noises when they do the robot, Sam would say the word “pop, pop, pop”. People would always say to him, “Hey do that popping stuff!”

A lot of people ask what Electric Boogaloo style is. Electric Boogaloo style is combining popping and boogaloo style together. The two styles compliment each other well and is known worldwide as the signature style of the EB’s.


While Sam was creating popping and boogaloo, others were creating and practicing unique styles of their own. Back in the day many different areas in the west coast were known for their own distinct styles, each with their own rich history behind them. Some of these areas included Oakland, Sacramento and San Fransisco.

Although the EB’s primarily pop and boogaloo, we still like to mix it up and encourage all dancers out there to learn and mix other styles as well.

Some of these styles include:

Air posing
Crazy Legs
Dime Stopping

The Electric Boogaloos would like to give respect to the other OGs and innovators of all styles who contributed to make the street dance scene what it is today. Keep the funk alive!




In 1969, a young black man by the name of Don Campbell was becoming known among street dancers in Los Angeles for inventing a dance called the Campbellock (he put out a record called “Do the Campbellock”). Don Campbell took the hydraulic robotic movements, which were all about total control and mixed it with wild, out of control body movement dances of the tap-flash dance days plus exact stop and start movements and spiced it all with comic facial expressions and clown-like costumes to develop a whole new dance movement which is still going strong called “Locking” (Campbellocking to us old guys. I lived in L.A. when it first came out and was a pretty good Campbellocker myself.)

The best way to describe the movement of locking would be thus: You know those little-figured toys that are like inside-out puppets on small plastic circular platforms or pedestals, and if you press the bottom of the platform the figure collapses real fast, then when you let your finger up it goes back into shape? Well that’s what locking looks like. The body moves out of control then back into control snapping into position, collapsing then snapping back.

By the Early ’70s Don Campbell had put together a whole crew of lockers called “The Lockers.” One of the lockers was Shabadoo, the star of “Breaking,” and Penguin, who was the chubby locker named “Rerun” on the TV show “What’s Happening.” The lockers of the early ’70s wore platform shoes, loud striped socks, pegged pants that stopped at the knees, bright colorful satin shirts with big collars, big colorful bow ties, gigantic Apple Boy hats, and white gloves.

“The Lockers”

Around that time a known TV choreographer named Toni Basil, who was famous for shows like “Shindig,” and “Hullaballoo,” discovered Don Campbell and his Lockers and helped bring them to international fame. She was an incredible dancer herself and soon learned to lock. She became a member of The Lockers, helped develop their dance act, and got them on TV shows like “Saturday Night Live” and commercials such as Schlitz Malt Liquor Beer (the one with the bull).

I remember seeing her and Don Campbell dance live at a nightclub called Crenshaw Flats in Los Angeles. I was blown away. She was actually better than he was!

Also around the time “Soul Train” hit the air (1972) and it became an instant media hit by featuring street dancers, especially The Lockers, of Los Angeles. The nightclub Crenshaw Flats the apartment on Crenshaw Boulevard in Los Angels was where the “Soul Train” gang hung out.

At the time breaking was developing in New York, locking the The Robot were getting popular in southern California. During 1972 and ’73 in Fresno, California, a small city halfway between Los Angeles and Dan Francisco, a black family of all boys were inventing something new of their own. They called their dance the Electric Boogaloo. Pistol Pete (who also starred in the film “Breaking” and was involved with Toni Basil and The Lockers and “Soul Train” in the early days) and his brothers had created The Electric Boogaloo by combining locking. The Robot, and the more smooth and controlled movements of mime. Instead of throwing their bodies in and out of control like locking, or in total hydraulic control like The Robot, they passed energy through their bodies popping and snapping elbows, wrists, necks, hips and just about all the body joints along the way. Electric Boogaloo was more like mime in the sense that it pantomimed a live wire of electrical current, but it still needed the control of The Robot to give it style. The Electric Boogaloo became big in San Francisco even before it hit Los Angeles but when it did hit L.A., the TV capital of the world, it was introduced through “Soul Train” as the new dance form and challenged the popularity of locking. The Electric Boogaloo (or Electric Boogie as it’s called now) has since spread to New York as breaking later hit Los Angeles. It’s interesting to see breaking and locking existing in the same sub-cultures. I think it’s partly because they complement each other as opposites. The Electric Boogie is in control and tends to imitate the movements of nature like a lightning bolt or a rippling river, whereas breaking is more out of control and anti-nature or anti-gravitational like a flying saucer. Another reason they’re done together with the same kids may also be that they’re both competitive dances where dancers battle each other to determine who’s best. “If my breaker can’t beat you, my boogie can.” They live in the same competitive atmosphere.

Because of its competitive nature, I see Electric Boogie also becoming a competitive sport. This might seem odd because unlike breaking, it’s hard to judge, but it will go the way of breaking because they have become inseparable in a cultural dance movement. It will evolve into a competitive thing.

Written by Michael Holman in early 80s.


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