Social Party Locking vs Commercial Performance Locking
By James “og Skeeter Rabbit Higgins
We all remember getting up on Saturday morning to watch COUPLES facing each other or dancing down the soul train line to the beats of Marvin Gaye or James Brown, That’s right couples, no pre plan just dancing some gyrations some fancy footwork and yes SOME pointing and Locking. Now we also can all remember about a year later turning on the television and watching a group of dancers, on a stage facing an audience and performing a pre planed routine.Which consisted of individual solos and some pre planned unison steps..
Umm there is a difference between dancing and performing. And that difference exist today also. And that is not to say that one is better than the other. Not all great dancers become great commercial performers as clasic entertainment dancers.And not all dancing performers are great dancers. A great performance can be exciting, unique, intriguing or comedic to and audience. But a great dancer does not necessarily need an audience it is inner and expresses itself outward he or she can be intuitive, spontaneous , have a sense of rhythm or passion with the ability to communicate that passion through movement, they have the ability to be inspired or to inspire, to feel the lead or to follow, To create or respond. That is where many of today’s lockers are lost they want to be great locking performers or entertainers and not conscious of becoming great Locking DANCERS Well lets not be confused as to what came first. there is a reason Don Campbell teaches the freedom of creation and the improvisational side of Locking. And that is because that is where it came from, But that part of the dance came from the creative side of the social party dance scene, NOT THE PERFORMANCE, and that is where Don, first implemented it at , not on a stage.you see the social party was on the dance floor of the clubs and dances. while on the dance floor (not the stage) we were free to create.
We would do the social party dances as couples and in between the established moves and steps, we would create our own styles and steps. This included what became Locking moves. Don was the very first streetdancer to interject various social gestures (these came from the social messages of the music). He did this along his unique freezing style of the funky chicken. These things were added to the other social dances and moves and WHAM ! You have the beginnings of Locking. While couple dancing you either improvised ,responded or followed and that was what was done, not only by the partner but often by others or sometimes the entire room joined in. Many of steps that people loved to follow on are the steps that eventually became unison steps. And the moves and gestures that were responded to was the body communication between two or more people. This is when one dancer does something on the DANCE FLOOR and his partner or another dancer answers or responds to it. with the same or another moveThis Social or Party dancing is the ROOT of what eventually became a performance. This is what came first as locking then continued to evolve . During these social parties couples or even the entire room communicated through body movements.
Guys and girls flirted, Dancers acknowledged each other and the expression of the LYRICS were mimicked. These were all for the most part spontaneous actions. And this is the part Don Campbell emphasizes with such great passion. And how can you blame him this was a wonderful part of the dances history. But now came the development into a PERFORMACE or ACT of Locking. And that also came from the elements of the party dancing. At first it was still done social and spontaneous and not for money. The combination of the improvisational social steps and locking moves had naturally merged with unison steps These steps developed while following the moves of others on the dance floor.
And contrary to what many believe were not PLANNED steps for a performance. The first small performances also develop spontaneously as small duos and trios of locking dancers (such as the GoGo brothers) would gather on the party dance floors. Others would stop and encourage them to respond or follow each other. These became the first impromptu mini shows .Many of the original pioneers were so used to dancing around each other and together in the PARTY scene that they could improvise and put together a small routine on the spot. These mini performances, began to spread to basketball courts, street corners, and parks .But it was still a spontaneous STREET dance that was moving toward a performance. and now dancers could preplan parts of their routines for talent and other local shows. But the spontaneity was not totally restricted.
This attracted the professional commercial market dance moved to a paid professional ACT Professional Promoters could now visualize the marketability of a structured LOCKING performance.. Now the essence of of its creative origin was lost. Each and every count or beat had to be accounted for, Dancers had to be exactly on camera que. routines and every beat in the music was preplanned , Even solos had to be choreographed, and exact positions blocked. This was not the freedom of creativity us street dancers or the dance itself had drawn its power or purpose from, however it is what we as street dancers are willing to accept. Some of us for the fame, some for the money. But I would like to think that some for the opportunity to allow this great art form to be documented and passed down So now The ORIGINAL ARTFORM of Locking (or OG LOCKING) as a performance and a historical dance was NOW complete.
And it is what you see on stage , but lets not forget it was inspired by many elements and people. Not just the performance. It is what is the foundation and guideline for the structured classical dance of locking But lets not forget the creativity involved with the social dance of Locking is NEVER COMPLETE it is just as it was when Don instituted it and many implemented it many years ago. It evolved on the social party scene many years ago. And it SHOULD continue to grow. And HOPEFULLY other creative moves and steps will find their way into this wonderful art form, and give today’s evolution of Locking a much needed universal purpose again