What is Street Dance? Street Dance History Part 2
How far down the rabbit hole do you want to go? View Street dance history part 1 here
In a nutshell: Street Dance is a collection (or umbrella term) of lots of different Street Dance Styles, born OUTSIDE of the dance studio, for example: on the streets, parties, parks, school yards, nightclubs/social gatherings etc.
This is what the first “Street/Hip Hop” class I went to LOOKED like:
This class was not even Hip Hop, it was more Street Jazz in disguise. The teacher was also very far removed from Hip Hop. Real hip hop teachers would have looked like this:
LOL, Joke! I am not going to write about about what Hip Hop is and isn’t (yet), I will try and stick to Street Dance.
Rabbit Hole level 1: Street Dance is not a Style of Dance!
Did you know this? I have spoken to MANY people who are learning Street Dance and the conversation goes like this:
Me:Hi, Oh so you dance? What kind of dance do you do?
Them:I do ballet, Street Dance…
Or like this
Me:What styles do you teach?
Teacher:Hip Hop, Street, Popping…
The fact that some people even abbreviate it to just “Street” makes me cringe.
I am guilty!
I am also guilty of such crimes. When I first got into the Street Dance culture I thought that everything was just “Hip Hop”. The thing which changed it was research and time investing into the culture. I quickly learned about the different styles and it changed everything.
Where did the term: “Street Dance” come from?
Some say, and I would agree, The term Street Dance was coined by the media when they tried to make sense of the dance crazes that were taking off at the time. The fact is these dance styles were around long before the media saw it. It makes sense though. If you had never seen for example, Breakdance (correct term Breaking or Bboying/Bgirling – don’t get me started here lol) before and you saw a whole bunch of people dancing this way on the street, you may well talk about it with your friends and would most likely generalise it to Street Dancers, as they were dancing on the Street. Just like a Street Performer could be a magician, dancer, acrobat etc but are commonly given the term “Street Performer”. If you spoke to a magician they would no doubt say “I am not a Street performer first, I am a magician who performs on the street. As a profession they might be a Street performer but the actual thing they are doing would be…magic.
The public aren’t to blame…
The general public will most likely not know the exact correct terminology and/or history – and that’s ok. This is what separates the real from the superficial. Is it ok for the media to use the incorrect term? Yes. Do I like it? No. Does it matter? To some, yes. Is that important? Ask them.
For me I use this as a tool to bring my students on the Street Dance journey. People who don’t want to know don’t have to know. It is though, our responsibility to inform those who don’t know, ESPECIALLY as teacher.
Rabbit hole level 2: Street Dance styles were born OUTSIDE of the studio
This is where it gets a bit deeper and a bit confusing so I wont get into it (yet). I will finish here with one final thought.
Street dance was not born in the Dance studio, but this doesn’t mean you cannot train IN the studio. People who don’t know this become Studio dancer who have to have a mirror in front of them to learn. In our classes we “keep it real” by doing Street Dance demonstrations in the street, with the lino, and the boom box. Studio dancers in large part CAN’T do this as it is not a part of THEIR culture. Studio dancers often LOOK LIKE real street dancers but then if you put them in a REAL street dance scenario they do not know what to do. This is not a bad thing. It is just putting into perspective what Street Dance is, and what Street Dance isn’t.
Don’t get things twisted. Research, ask questions and get into the culture.
What I have learned:
- The general public will most likely not know the exact correct terminology and/or history
- People can talk the talk, but can’t walk the walk
- Street Dance Culture is very deep and has a lot of History
- The journey never stops
An absolute MUST have DVD which teaches all about Street Culture, Street Dance etc is called The Freshest Kids – A History Of The B-Boy. If you don’t have it, get it. You will not be disappointed. The link here is an affiliate link so I get a commission if you purchase it from amazon.
Street Dance dates back to the early 1920’s or even further…the journey continues!
About the Author
Rob is the owner of Street Styles 4 All (SS4A), married to his wife Chloe. Follows Jesus (not on twitter), runs a Street Dance school. Rob also known as "Smoove Groove" runs the online courses at SS4A and is passionate Street Dance and about teaching Street Dance.