The 5th annual Oakland Boogaloo Reunion BBQ which took place in West Oakland’s Shoreline Park was an incredible and inspiring intergenerational gathering that provided much needed living history. There’s a popper’s picnic that takes place annually in Los Angeles at Griffith’s Park where they get lose and celebrate history.. This month the Bay Area let their story be told.
When most people talk about Hip Hop Dance, they think of what is known as B-Boying but commonly known as break dancing in the mainstream. They think of people of doing elaborate spins on their backs or highly choreographed, robotic, strutting, clay-mation type movements that defy what many have imagined our bodies could do.
Most people think that because the term Hip Hop is attached to these various dance styles that they’ve originated from New York City. In reality the dances known as Boogalooing, Roboting and Strutting have their roots three thousand miles away in the Bay Area going back to the 1960s. Their origins predate the birth of Hip Hop in New York in the 1970s.
Instead of bongo heavy break-beats that became a signature sound for early Hip Hop, the choice of music for many of the Bay Area’s pioneering street dancers was bass laden funk music.
If there was one thing that unbeknownst to folks from either coast that tied them together, it was James Brown. Early B-Boys in the Bronx were inspired by the moves he executed when performing songs like Get on the Good Foot. Songs like Give it Up or Turn It Lose and Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved were staple songs heard at early park jams. In the Bay Area the song of choice for early Bay Area funk and street dancers was Superbad.
There were no massive block parties in Oakland, San Francisco and Richmond which were the three main cities that were central to these dances during that time period. Instead many Bay Area youth who embraced these dances showcased their skills at talent shows which were just as numerous in the late 60s, early 70s as block parties were in New York during the summer.
Deejays were few in number while hundreds of 3-4 member funk bands made up the musical landscape of the Bay Area. As Will Randolph of the pioneering dance group the Black Resurgents noted, you might find 3 or 4 bands on every block. Some dance crews including the Black Resurgents even had their own bands.
Over the years thanks to popular TV shows like Soul Train and the later the Gong Show or key individuals moving from one place to another, the dances of the West Coast eventually became known to pioneering dancers in New York who incorporated them in their routines and by default became umbrellaed as Hip Hop.
Here in Oakland the 5th annual Boogaloo Reunion BBQ was held as folks from all over come out, and literally strut their stuff. They showcase and celebrate the evolution of some of those original dances that were prominent in the Bay and Northern Cali as many like to note; the Day before Hip Hop. Today at the Boogaloo Reunion BBQ you will see early Funk style dancers, traditional Bboys and Bgirls and now turf dancers..
This year I arrived at the Poppers Picnic and BBQ (September 6) at West Oakland’s Shoreline Park, just as things were winding down, but managed to catch up with lot of folks and shoot some cool pictures that caught the good vibe and overall spirit of the day..Enjoy
written by Davey D