Pop dance is a form of street dancing and one of the original funk styles that emerged in the 1960’s-70’s. It is characterized by sudden tensing and releasing of muscles (or “hitting”) that sync with the beats of music. The dance also involves isolations of body parts, facial expressions and dramatic use of angles. This style is based on the idea of creating a picture and illusion with movements and poses. Its fluid motions make it unique and stand out from breaking, which is more floor-oriented.
Popping first gained national awareness through a series of mid-1980’s Hollywood breakdancing films called “Breaksploitation.” These movies showcased popping dancers like Boogaloo Sam and his Electric Boogaloos crew. It was these dancers that popularized the movement and gave it the name “popping.” Often, however, when people talk about popping they refer to all of the funk dance styles, including locking, waacking, and floating, as part of the same art form. While combining these styles is possible, it’s important to remember that each has its own distinct style and history.
Today, popping continues to evolve and expand with new dancers adding their own twists and techniques to the style. The popularity of the dance has even prompted the Grammys to create a dedicated category for pop-centric electronic dance music, separating it from other forms of electronic and dance music, while still keeping it under the umbrella of the Recording Academy. This is a big deal for the dance world, as it provides an official home for dance music that combines club rhythms with traditional pop song structures and hook-filled melodies.