By now you will know that Street Fit® is the ultimate fusion of aerobic fitness and street dance, but what exactly is street dance? The answer is not entirely straight forward, even to those people immersed in the street dance culture, but this blog post should clarify things a bit.
Jigging to Clogging: How Folk Dance took to the Street
The most fundamental definition of street dance is any dance style that originates in public places (including the streets) rather than dance studios. Street dance usually evolves by improvisation and collaboration, with individuals building upon established styles and forming new ones.
Street dance is often referred to as an urban equivalent of folk dance. For example, ‘jigging’ was a popular folk dance in the 1500s before the widespread urbanisation of the UK. Following the Industrial Revolution, factory workers adopted cheap wooden shoes called clogs, which made a distinctive sound when tapped on the hard street surface. Arguably then, ‘clogging’ was the first street dance in the UK.
Jazz and the Afro-American Street Dances
Of course, when most of us think of street dance, factory workers in clogs don’t immediately spring to mind. Modern street dance is heavily influenced by African American music and dance styles. Among the first Afro-American street dances were tap dances performed to a new genre of West African influenced music that became known as ‘jazz’. The first use of the term ‘street dance’ may have occurred in the early 1900s in North East USA.
Hip Hop and Funk
The Seventies were to have a profound influence on the development of street dance, with two distinct music genres emerging form the USA and then becoming fused.
From New York City came hip hop, a complete subculture with its own, unique musical genre. Hip hop music featured rapping, scratching and sampling, with extended breaks between sections. In these breaks, dancers known as B-boys (or girls) would take to the floor and seek to impress the audience with intricate displays of footwork, poses and athletic ‘power moves’ that became referred to as ‘breakdancing’ in popular culture.
From hip hop dance came street dance crew culture; crews competed against one another in dance contests known as jams, leading to further evolution.
At around the same time, and from the opposite coast, California brought us funk music, a soul-based genre which became known for its iconic dance styles. Funk styles (so-called to distinguish them from the hip hop culture into which they have become absorbed) include locking, popping, waving and electric boogaloo.
As the decades moved on, new street dance styles arose from different dance environments, most notably rave dances, club dances and punk dances. However street dance as a label is now virtually synonymous with hip hop dance.
So What Street Dance Will I Learn?
If you have booked your place on one of our forthcoming Street Fit Instructors’ Courses, you will shortly be learning some great street dance moves. Street Fit choreography draws from the hip hop and funk styles mentioned above, including locking, popping, waving and breaking. Don’t worry if you’ve never tried street dance before; our Instructors’ Course is designed to teach you a basic Street Fit workout that can be built upon as your ability and confidence start to soar! As new routines are introduced, you will soon be building up an impressive repertoire of stylish street dance moves.
Check out a video from one of our instructor courses to see what it is all about!