Waacking! Waackin!Whacking! Punk! Pose!
Everywhere you turn, this dance has been sweeping the world by storm , capturing the attention of a massive worldwide audiences as one of the hottest dances to be discovered and introduced to a new generation. Around the world and across the nation , slowly, Waacking! Waackin! Whacking! , is being propelled into the spotlight into established dance studios, events /contest in urban dance culture both nationally and internationally , being featured in modern-day media, such as TV’s ABDC, SYTYCD, numerous music videos, live concerts and stage, re-establishing itself as a movement that refuses to be ignored
Andrew Frank could follow a slinky movement with a defiant one. and Miss (Toni) Basil’s explanation that his kind of dance flourished in the homosexual clubs made his delight in physicality an implied gay liberation manifesto”
-Jack Anderson ,
New York Times
“………a new dance form emerged among gay black dancers in LA: the “Vogues”, also known as “Posing” or “Punk”. but this was a black version of punk that had nothing to do with the frenetic style of white punk dancing. Andrew Frank, Star, Tinker, and other male dancers Basil soon brought into her own shows, knew about “Locking” but were interested in creating a feminine style. They took elements of “Locking” embroidering the freeze frame pointing of the finger and transforming the wrist-rolling to a gesture that moved decoratively around the head, and they added deliberately campy poses , quoting from Vogue magazine , and from photos of movie stars like Greta Garbo, and Marilyn Monroe.
Writing Dancing: in the age of Post Modernism
In the backdrop of the tumultuous political and social upheaval of the 70’s , the demands for Freedom permeated throughout american culture , throughout art, music , movies ,and dance ..
As the collective conscience of awareness for civil rights took hold of a country, The LA Street Dance Scene was already experiencing renaissance with the popularity of Soul Train which exposed the nation to the social dances in LA such as the freeze , and a very early form of Posing. A dance based out of the funky chicken, created by a man named, Don Campbell , called locking exploded from the streets and clubs of LA onto TV, and Stage, took flight to open the door for professional street dance .
While Locking was being introduced to the mainstream , art form that would flourish in the LA underground gay clubs/discos that exalted their expression of freedom, emerge .
…simply referred to within their circles as “punking” by DJ and Pioneer, Michel Angelo which was a derivative “punk” an offensive slur against homosexuals.
Disenfranchisement to Genesis
Homosexuality behavior was declared a criminal act and mental illness among the majority of the United States. The Dont Ask Dont Tell Policy mantra was strictly enforced, with the military dismissing and dumping legions of soldiers for homosexual practices in varied city ports in America, more notably, New York, Los Angeles, and future mecca, for gay culture, San Francisco. Unwilling to face the shame of being dismissed from the military, many stayed and built a solid underground community and home for themselves while being plagued the realities of a bleak future, The fate of living life as an open homosexual , especially if you were black and latino in the United States , lent itself to only a few options, many remained in the closet burdened by the fear of the risk of being punished … or Jailed, bullying, job discrimination, disenfranchisement, and alienated from mainstream society . Faggot” “Homo” “Punk” and many other derogatory slurs were addressed to gays.Homophobia was such an epidemic that struck a chord of fear and ignorance in many that the idea of being in contact with someone who was gay, could result in your demise.
The police raids in notably gay clubs, Black Cat Tavern in LA in 1967 and Stonewall in NYC in 1969 , would however, launch the Gay Revolution to the forefront, and mobilize. Openly gay political activists such as Harvey Milk would elevate into government. Groups like the Coquettes from San Francisco which featured a then unknown singer by the name of Sylveter would garner attention nationwide. 1975 would mark the year Homosexuality would be declared legal in Los Angeles. Donna Summer’s Giorgio Moroder ‘s disco manifesto “ Love to Love You Baby” would herald a new era of sexual liberation.
Hollywood clubs such as Paradise Ballroom, Catch One, Ginos, and Ginos II that echoed the sounds of Summer, Motown, Issac Hayes and others, became their safe haven from the societal wounds of shame. Thanks to Dj’s such as Danny from Paradise Ballroom, and Micheal Angelo, would provide the perfect backdrop to breathe life for its eminent genesis. The dance floor became a canvas for exploration of their heart, their soul , their fears, their imagination, their demons, their fantasies. They created living art through escapism and make believe..seamlessly creating pictures and scenarios that would take revered choreographers months of rehearsal to create. Then one by one, dance almost defiantly double time to the music. Organically ,in a blink of an eye, evoking the je ne se quoi of early images and silent films of 30’s and 40’s Hollywood ..Dietrich, Garbo, Gloria Swanson, Crawford, and others found their way onto the discos floors. The fluidity and athleticism of ice skating and gymnastics , the exaggerated humor of cartoons, campy tv shows such as Batman, which used the word “whack” in an action scene , and a legions of movies, fueled inspirations for the evolution of what started simply posing , to the crabwalk, into a full-fledged dance. It was Glamour, it was humor, it was fun, it was passion, it was cinematic, it was the spotlight and it was all theirs, for those on the outside, could do nothing but hold their breath to see what would unfold ….hoping to understand and feel what motivated their expression.
It was the spirit of camaraderie of the underground gay community that created an atmosphere for it to blossom, While there were many who would come and go in the dance …there were a handful of gentlemen, who would elevate the dance into what it is known to be in the modern era. Most notably:
Claude,Fay-Ray,Jo-Jo,Johnnie,Juan,Lizard-Women,Rodney and Tommy.
Danny ( Paradise BallRoom )
and @ Ginos II
Michael-Angelo =The HeartBeat of this Dance Style/ART
All of them each had very distinct styles and personalities that made them all individually intrinsic to the building of the dance.Yet, collectively, they all shared an essence, instinct, and rhythm , that earned the recognition of it being acknowledged as a style onto its own. In matter of time, through word of mouth and noted appearances in local dance contests in more mainstream clubs , spectators and contestants alike took notice of this new , phenomenon. Despite the efforts of Michael Angelo, to maintain exclusivity strictly to the beloved gay community, spectators from all types backgrounds, including professional dancers , choreographers , actors, singers, and patrons , would eventually begin to flock to their clubs to catch a glimpse , and study this collective group of individuals at work….
©AlyssaChloe.All Rights Reserved