Popping is a street dance adapted out of the earlier Boogaloo (funk dance) cultural movement in Oakland, California. As Boogaloo spread, it would be referred to as Robottin in Richmond, California, Strutting movements in San Francisco and San Jose, and the Strikin dances of the Oak Park community of Sacramento which were popular through the mid-1960s to the 1970s. Popping would be eventually adapted from earlier Boogaloo (freestyle dance) movements in Fresno, California, in the late 1970s by way of California high-school gatherings of track & meet events - the West Coast Relays. The dance is rooted through the rhythms of live funk music, and is based on the technique of Boogaloo's posing approach, quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk or can be a sudden stop in the dancer's body, referred to as a pose, pop or a hit.This is done continuously to the rhythm of a song in combination with various movements and poses. It was popularized by a Fresno & Long Beach-based dance group called the Electric Boogaloos that mixed popping techniques to boogaloo. Closely related illusory dance styles and techniques are often integrated into popping to create a more varied performance. These dance styles include the robot, waving and tutting. However, popping is distinct from breaking and locking, with which it is often confused. A popping dancer is commonly referred to as a popper.


Because of popping's cultural Boogaloo roots, popping developed before Hiphop's cultural movement and helped influence the tradition of styles of hip hop dancing. It is often performed in battles, where participants try to outperform each other in front of a crowd, giving room for improvisation and freestyle moves that are seldom seen in shows and performances, such as interaction with other dancers and spectators. Popping and related styles such as waving and tutting have also been incorporated into the electronica dance scene to some extent, influencing new styles such as liquid and digits and turfing.

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