Saturday October 23rd, one-on-one dance contest, Red Bull dance your style, concluded the American line-up. Wild card, Angyil McNeal, stormed the dance floor and was crowned national champion. The iconic popper will now move on to the World Finals in Johannesburg, South Africa. If you’ve never attended one of these events, qualifiers from Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, Atlanta, Memphis and Miami come together to show off the versatility and uniqueness of the dance. While witnessing the natural talent of many of these dancers, the style and story behind the moves make it all that much more compelling.

There are five elements to hip-hop, including breaking, which originated in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. The energetic and complex style of dance is said to be a gateway to the emergence of new styles. Much like breaking, many dance styles originated in inner-city neighborhoods like Chicago and New York. Popping, jookin’, footwork, whacking, turfing and flexing became fundamental dance styles, unique to their own regions. Like any cultural influence, the history of each dance plays a central role in its representation on the big stages and within the music.

Like breaking, house dance has been around since the late 1960s. Originating in the underground clubs of Chicago and New York, house dance mixes elements of disco and electronic music. The main elements of the house include lofting, jacking and footwork. Dancers like Prince Wayne took the time to learn the history of dance and appreciate the decades-old style. The Atlanta skilled and professionally trained dancer finds creative therapy in house dancing. “House dancing grew out of club culture, with the main movement being the jacking. The jacking comes from the bouncing of the chest,” he explains. A seductive body move, artists like Chip E, Farley “Jackmaster” Funk and Steve “Hurley” Silk would be inspired and turn this move into booming club anthems. Wayne digs deeper into the style, explaining that “it comes from people getting together in the club and forming these movements. A lot of people don’t understand house dance and take it too seriously, but learning the history of it made me really helps to appreciate the style.

The disco and post-disco era inspired much of the dancing seen today. Like house dancing, waacking and voguing also originated from club culture. While vogueing is said to be based on the East Coast and often tied to house music, waacking originated in Los Angeles LGBT clubs in the 70s. Usually done to disco music like Cheryl’s “It’s Gonna Be Right” Lynn, the elements of waacking are distinguished by complex arm movements, poses and punks. Originally from Seattle, Washington and qualified from Atlanta, Tracey Wong, found her passion for waacking while creating spaces of empowerment for queer women. “It’s a form of dance that was created by the black and Latin gay community on the West Coast,” she describes. “Although he’s known for his many circular arm movements, it’s really about emphasizing the music with your whole body.” Wong addresses the true beauty of waacking – freedom. During the 1970s, there were very few places where members of the LGBT community could express themselves, safely and freely. For Wong, understanding and respecting the historical context of waacking and community dances brings much more value and meaning to this dance style. For her and many others, one cannot respect this dance without learning its history.

While club culture has played a role in the development of dance styles like Chicago footwork, waacking, and voguing, hip-hop subgenres like the hyphy movement have also inspired creative expression. Dancers like Krow the God, who can contort his body into positions you wouldn’t believe, can attest to this cultural influence. Turfing and flexing are both symbolic and exclusive to Bay Area street culture. Characterized by rhythmic floor movements, glides, flexes and contortions, this distinctive style was invented by dancer Jeriel Bey in the 90s. “Turfin’ started in Oakland, my hometown,” the dancer reveals on the way he entered the dance. “The Architeckz were the first turf band that E-40 released and they branched out to the Anamaniac as well.” The Archictecks ​​were also an extension of the initiator, Jeriel Bey. “It’s an extension of the hyphy era, but we just made it more technical. The technical also differed depending on which hood you came from. of art is limited by socio-political injustices Expression that addressed brutality against black and brown communities, dance is deeper than a movement Happy to be in the spotlight, Krow the God is happy to see his hometown receive some well-deserved attention.

From the east coast to the west coast and everywhere in between, the impact of history on the culture of dance and music is just as important as the dancers themselves. Many of the styles we see today wouldn’t exist without the people and history that influenced them. So the next time you find yourself lost in music or dancing, remember how far you’ve come.