If you call yourself a popper but you don’t know who this man is, it’s back to school time for you. Although The Tikas main focus normally highlights Hip Hop Culture and Consciousness, we are more than happy to provide you with this lesson on Popping History; because like Bboying, Popping is a dance style that was created outside of the dance studios. It was a dance from the street. So lets get it in:
This respected OG, in this particular “Animated” looking dance style, (believed to have been originated from the bay area) called “Popping”, was born in Kansas City in ’63. He moved to Reno Nevada at age four, and to LA at age six. It was there, a couple of years later in 1978 when he saw ‘Popping’ for the very first time in Compton when he was just fifteen years old. He was astonished. He had never seen anything like it.
He returned home still in shock, not quite knowing why he felt mad for some reason, but then he realized that it was because he didn’t get a chance to see it sooner.The movements he saw looked so incredibly animated.
“A source of controlled energy capable of varying the emotions of everyone watching” – No Bone Tyrone
After Tyrone returned home from school that very same day, he locked himself in his room and tried to mentally and physically duplicate some of the movements he had seen, immediately falling in love with the dance.
“It was a way to provide myself a vehicle of self expression by way of animated and isolated movements” – No Bone Tyrone
When he moved to Pomona, CA one year later, he was happy to see that there were also poppers over there. He was respected for bringing a style of waving to Pomona nobody had seen yet. Tyrone transitioned from snake movements, back into wave movements, and he combined snake movements with isolated waves, including isolated arm and leg movements. The effect and “snaky-ness” of his waves, became bigger by the way of isolation, and contortion of other body parts while he waves. This is also why he got the name “No Bone Tyrone”, because waving was his primary style.From this primary style, he developed the other movements he did such as creeps, floats, slides, glides, twistoflexes, the scare crow and electro mechanical puppet, just to name a few.
Yet, No Bone and many other poppers important to the popping culture sometimes remain unknown or overlooked. the reason for this could simply be lack of exposure because of the inability to promote ones self but also family responsibilities and or injuries.
also by the end of the 80’s many people in the states looked at popping as a trend. and felt that it already ran it’s course. so a lot of people stopped because they thought it wasn’t going anywhere. yet 30 years later the entire world is still popping!
The kids in California did this dance as a form of entertainment to occupy their time, have fun, and stay out of potential trouble. But Popping became bigger because it became a way to avoid any type of Gang Initiation or Gang Activity. This is because (in part) actual gangsters had respect for the Popping craze.
“Gangsters were more interested in me showing them how to throw a wave instead of trying to sweat me about which set i was from” – No Bone Tyrone
Popping was just a respected form to be down with in California, and when someone is a good popper in those areas, people often used to say things like “that’s gangster” or “that move looked gangster!”; meaning it looked hard, raw, and aggressive. So the term “gangster”, became more of a slang in the Popping culture.
Before I wrote this article, I contacted No Bone Tyrone himself, to make sure my facts were on point. The first thing I noticed was that he is a very Humble and respectful man. He took the time to answer the questions I had and he really showed his appreciation for the dance. This was very inspiring to me. In note of this, I asked him what his advice would be to the new school poppers in this day and age, of which he replied with three important notes:
1. Always strive to focus on what you can add and give back to this art form. This will help you stay focused, show appreciation and should never allow you to get caught up into thinking the art form cheated and short changed you.
2. Take full advantage of technology and expose yourself to as many styles as possible, by way of, YouTube, popping websites, work shops, and/or any event that sidelines or showcases Popping contest and performances. Pay close attention with emphasis on what you liked about a certain style, Popper or performance, and just as importantly, what you didn’t like about a certain style, Popper or performance. This will help you make a better decision on what style you want to start learning.
3. Never say something to anyone on the internet that you wont say to them in person. If you have a particular “beef” or problem with someone wait until you see them in person or at least exchange phone numbers to resolve whatever disagreement you might have. Disagreement is not a bad thing, its actually an opportunity to see all the facts or documented evidence, since ultimately the truth always finds a way to reveal itself. So don’t feel bad if you are wrong about a certain date, style,movie ect. Lord knows I have been corrected many times, and have no problem admitting it.
Finally, he gave me this message he wanted to share with the Popping Community all over the world:
“If we as Poppers, took a minute to think about what inspired us to start in the first place there would be more universal love for this art form which we all love.”
Peace, No Bone Tyrone.