Locking 4 Life
- The Story of Locking -
The Locking: From its origins as an LA-rooted underground movement,Locking has become one of the most important trends in “standing street dance” over the span of the last few decades. The creation of legendary group “The Campbellock Dancers” in 1973, along with the appearance of a Locking pioneer in the 1984 cult film Breakin’, were undoubtedly key elements that led to the movement’s now global success.
Today, the “Locking for Life” concept seeks to revive Locking by adapting it to a whole spectrum of current artistic and musical movements. As a link between the world today and the world of the first lockers, “Locking for life” acts as a channel for Locking’s raw and authentic spirit.
Locking emerged at school dances in Los Angeles in the early 70s. It was an era when the stereos were blasting the electrifying, socially conscious music such as What’s Going On by Marvin Gaye, We’re a Winner by Curtis Mayfield, Respect Yourself by The Staple Singers and the ground-breaking I’m Black and I’m Proud and Soul Power by James Brown. While dancers were witnessing a new, rebellious funk sound, soul music was still fresh, offering its finest to the world
with sweet tracks like Ottis Redding’s Try a Little Tenderness and It’s a Man’s World, another gem by Mr. Brown.
This soul/funk movement paired with a dynamic atmosphere in the streets of LA, was the context which inspired American dancer Don Campbell’s first moves, including his signature one: a clumsy freezing move. At the time, Don couldn’t quite pull off the popular soul dance, “The Funky Chicken”. In annoyance with his own failure, he mimicked the move, but with a Don Campbell twist; he broke up its fluidity by locking each movement into a freeze. It wasn’t rare to see Don Campbell using his style while imitating some of James Brown’s dance movements; he’d jump several meters in the air while executing breathtaking floor moves and splits. By injecting this phenomenal power into soul dancing, Don Campbell aka “The King of Crenshaw” (the club Mavericks Flats was located on Crenshaw blvd) created and inspired a spectacular and impressive new social dance, which later became an authentic performance. Campbellocking will always retain the essence of this festive spirit that is warm with the sun and fun of California.
A Soul Train named desire: At its inception, Campbellocking was a secret reserved to LA clubbers as well as college and high school party dancers. It was only when Don Campbell appeared on TV’s Soul Train with other street dancers like Charles “Robot” Washington and Jimi “Scooby doo “ Foster, that Campbellocking’s magnetic power acquired nation-wide recognition.
From that point, the world imitated this dance movement that had already swept the streets of LA. Everywhere, dancers imitated Campbellock’s dance moves and gestures: pointing at people, clapping and slapping their hands, and freezing in his signature lock pose. Don had thus injected many street gestures into dance by using them in locked poses that pause the movement in time to the chunky rhythm of the music.
Of all the dancers that joined the Campbellocking movement, Greg Pope would have the most direct influence on both the street and the performance of Locking. Along with the GoGo Brothers, Tony & Buddy GoGo, and James “SkeeterRabbit” Higgins , Greg was widely regarded as the creative link between the clubs and the high school dance events. Working closely with his mentor Don, Greg was often referred to by the nickname of “Campbell Junior”. While Greg combined his own innovations with Don’s style, he also infused his dancing with the many moves and steps pioneered by other street dancers. This shaped Locking into a structured and developed performance. Greg taught this structure to several members of the original group and helped to create what we know Locking to be today. Being a dance that is social and collaborative in its synchronized movements, Locking needs to be shared. Greg Pope, who is now known as Campbellock Junior, was thus a teacher, teaching the vocabulary and intricacies of Locking to talented young dancers and therefore ensuring that the dance would live on.
Meanwhile, a dance movement was burgeoning in the gay community. Inspired by the Cambpellocking style, show business and the fashion world , Locking’s wrist rolls and poses were incorporated into another style named after the gay community: Punking. This dance had other names as well. Inspired by the actress Greta Garbo, Punking was also known as “Garbo”. Others called it Waacking, which describes the dance’s uses of flailing arms. It is also known as Voguing and was later featured in Madonna’s music video, Vogue. In tandem with the Locking movement, this dance showed creativity and spontaneity.
Street to Stage: The Campbellock Dancers: The Locking movement took off in the streets of Los Angeles in 1972, introducing many street legends. In 1973, Toni Basil. a choreographer already well known on the Jazz circuit, would convince Don Campbell to form a group of Locking dancers. The Unison Street movement along with Don’s solo improvisational style now emerged. When Greg Campbellock Junior left inner-city street group “Creative Generation” to join Don’s group , “The Campbellock Dancers,” the group went through some changes and was later was renamed “The Lockers”.
The Lockers comprised of Don "Campbellock" Campbell, Greg "Campellock Junior" Pope, Bill "Slim Robot" Williams, Fred "Rerun" Berry, Leo "Fluky Luke" Williamson, Toni Basil and Adolfo "Shabba-doo" Quinones. Throughout the previous year, the dance had been evolving from a couples’ dance to a stage act. Dancers now faced the audience in different formations and did various synchronized steps in between solo improvisations.
Reminiscent of the d
ance moves seen in the streets and high schools as well as moves previously invented by groups like The original GoGo brothers and Creative Generation, Locking now incorporated many steps and styles including The Robot, The Scoobydoo, The Skeeterrabbit and others.
The creation of this dance group indicated that Locking had broken through to the professional entertainment world. This group remains firmly established as a street dance legend.
Bringing together dancers highly adept at improvisation and synchronicity in their performances, the group put together the most breathtaking shows. For the first time, the world was able to see what was going on in the clubs, streets and high schools of Los Angeles. On stage, The Lockers amalgamated street style with stage tradition by wearing street fashion and classic stage garb in playful combinations. On any given night, you could walk in a club or dance in the hoods of LA and see tuxedoes, tail coats, butterfly bows, suspenders, brimmed hats, multi-colored shoes and striped socks. This is what the pioneers of Locking sported and which The Lock
ers went on to introduce to the world. As Locking gained popularity, the dance scene was flooded with elements of a Hollywood bygone era: double-breasted coats, vests, and wide-brim hats worn by the characters in 40s gangster movies. The Lockers were therefore in part responsible for a resurgence of the classy suits of the 30s and 40s. The baggy pants of the “zoot suit” had a purpose: it hid the knee pads they wore for their more acrobatic moves. Their soft-soled shoes, “marshmellows”, is another example how their style was functional as well as aesthetic. Lockers further adapted this classic look by adding a flavour that was decidedly 70s. This was thus a sartorial hybrid of what the ritzy "Cotton Club" set would wear and the funky stylings of the Soul era.
Thanks to Toni Basil’s aptitude in public relations, The Lockers increasingly appeared in the media and began constant touring, thus giving inspiration to other dancers to form their own Locking crews. These crews went on to many other fantastic developments. In 1974, The Lockers added street-dance pioneer James “Skeeter Rabbit” Higgins to their live performance and toured as the opening act for the world-famous Frank Sinatra. Throughout the 70s, other dances began to spring up such as Popping or Boogaloo, taking their inspiration directly from Locking and particularly the robotic moves it innovated.
In 1976 “The Lockers” went through other personal changes with the loss of Tony Basil and Fred Berry to other entertainment projects. The group added street pioneer Tony GoGo (a former member of the original GoGo Brothers). “The Lockers” broke up in 1977, following almost a four-year run o
f outstanding professional success.
Thankfully, the split didn’t indicate an end for Locking; in fact, its fate was far from that.
During the late 70s, the spirit of Locking was kept alive in the media by two major personalities and former members of the Campbellock dancers. Fred “Mr. Penguin” Berry, starring in the TV show What’s Happening, played the hilarious role of Rerun and Adolfo “Shabbadoo” Quinones starred in and choreographed many TV shows like The Big Show, where he played a classy and suave character.
Disco Fever The 1977 film “Saturday Night Fever”, directed by John Badham and starring John Travolta, also brought Locking to the world. Also directly inspired from the Campbellock movement, the disco dance style stemmed from Locking roots. The choreography in the movie can be attributed to the talents of a dancer by the name of Deni Terrio, who was the John Travolta’s personal dance coach.
After The Lockers and Locking itself became well known, Terrio, a regular in the suburban dance-contest circuit, began to show up at many local inner-city performances and clubs to learn from various pioneers. Terrio then learned some very basic Locking moves from Greg Pope and adapted them to disco choreography. Locking and the music that fostered it were therefore directly responsible for the dance and beats of the new disco era.
Big Bang The 80s marked the fusion of West Coast-born Locking with New York’s Hip hop culture, which would have a direct impact on lockers, and the spirit of the dance.
The 1984 film Breakin’, directed by Joel Silberg, starring Adolpho“Shabbadoo”Quinones, is a modern cultural artefact that illustrates the merging between the West and East of the United States. Filmed in LA, the feature film brings together four dance styles: Breaking, Popping-Boogaloo, Waacking and Locking. Despite the fictional nature Breakin’s plot, this film documents how west-coast and east-coast dance movements catapulted from the confines of America into an international arena.
Locking’s worldwide party had truly begun. Michael and Janet Jackson introduced codes from the dance into their choreographies in collaboration with the dance group “LA City Rockers”. Tony Go-Go opened a school based on the art in Japan. Meanwhile, former Soul Train dancer and Shalamar singer Jeffrey Daniel perpetuated combinations of Moonwalk glides and Locking in his singing act and choreography. Locking, led by the likes of Jean-Paul Goude, went on to conquer France on the street and in clubs, n
aturally, but also among artists.
Constantly evolving to mould with new musical trends, Locking is still undergoing a constant and fascinating metamorphosis. Be it soul, funk, disco, hip hop, new jack swing, pop, swing or r’n’b, the Locking dance keeps on amassing fans and inspiring both dancers and choreographers in all disciplines.
Taken from Gemini and Prisca's www.locking4life.com firstname.lastname@example.org