Popping, also known as Electric Boogie, is an innovative style of hip-hop or funk dancing. Poppers achieve the dance style’s jerky or twitchy movements by continuously and rhythmically tensing and then relaxing muscles in the arms and legs. These jerks or twitches are called hits, ticks, and pops. These moves give the dance a robotic or cartoon-ish appearance. Popping can be combined with other styles of dance to make unique and entertaining performances, but is distinct from break-dancing, with which it is often confused.
This type of dancing can be done in many different styles and with many different moves. Animation is a type that mimics stop motion cartoons with its jerky movements, creating the illusion that dancers are moving frame by frame. Boogaloo is a fluid technique that dancers use to create the illusion that their bodies don’t have bones. Boppers isolate their jerks or pops in their chests, while crazy legs is a technique that focuses on the legs.
Fast forward, ticking and slow motion involve variations in the speed of dancing. Strobing recreates the visual effects of a strobe light upon the dancer. Liquid movements create the illusion that the body is made of liquid while puppet is meant to imitate a marionette. These are just some of the countless styles and movements that encompass popping, and poppers may combine a number of styles and moves while dancing.
Popping entered the mainstream in the 1970s when dance group the Electric Boogaloos performed it in a routine on Soul Train. While the exact origins of the style are difficult to determine, some trace the dance to 1960s Oakland, California, where it was allegedly inspired by the popular robot character on Lost in Space. Miming may have also influenced it.
Well-known and influential poppers include Don Campbell, who in 1969 put out the album Do the Campbellock. Campbell became known for combining the dance with comical expressions and costumes. In the early 1970s, Campbell assembled a dance crew that dancer and later singer Toni Basil helped get booked on Saturday Night Live. Today, respected poppers include street dancers Steffan "Mr. Wiggles" Clemente and Timothy "Popin' Pete" Solomon.