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History Of Uprock

Bushwick, Brooklyn, circa 1967-1968


Throughout the mid-60's and mid-70's; Brooklyn was home to many street gangs. Rubberband Man and Apache were all too familiar with these violent times, they grew up in the Bushwick area. They often hung around with the Devil Rebels and other local Brooklyn Gangs. Although they socialized within a dangerous circle of friends, getting into trouble was not their ultimate goal. They loved to dance; mainly to Soul and Funk music, and wanted to channel their energy and skill towards something new-so they created a new dance form called "Rocking".


Rubberband Man and Apache would dance on the street corners while listening to the radio. They used mixture of moves from Fred Astaire, Gene Kelly, Salsa, and later the Hustle. As the dance developed, body movements called "jerks" and hand gestures called "burns" would be added to imitate a fight against an opposing dancer. Rubberband Man and Apache morphed these dance styles, movements, and gestures together to create a unique and original street dance. Many gangs, and more specifically gang members, began to perform this dance. It became commonplace to see gang members hanging out in corners rocking against each other. Rocking became a competitive dance that caught on very quickly.


By the early 70's Rocking became a local dance, not just a "gang" dance. Many non-gang-related youths from around the area started to Rock. You could witness Uprocking at block parties, teen dances, and many other festive gatherings. A man by the name of "Crazy Rob" organized the first Rock Contests in existence. Competition was fierce and Brooklyn became a breeding ground for intense dance contests (or battles).The dance caught on so quickly, and had spread so widely, that the name had to be changed. The term "Rock" in a "Rock Contest" would confuse many "Rock Music" fanatics; they would show up expecting a "Rock concert". Mistaken as a rock & roll dance, "Rocking" became "Uprocking". It was the same dance with a different name.


The name change did not affect the rate of the dance's growth and popularity. Many young men were competing and many Uprock crews were organized. Crews like Touch of Rock, Nasty Rockers, Mysterious Rockers, MTC Jigabugs, Dynamic Spinners, Non Stop, Rockers, All Star Rockers, Symphony Rockers, IND Dancers, Supreme Rockers, Down to Rock, Fast Rockers, Disco Rockers, Fantasy Rockers, Just Begun Rockers, Romantic Rockers, Holy Rock Smokers, Lil Dave Rockers, Rock With Class, Universal Dancers, One On One Rockers, Touch of Class, Phazzic Rockers, Explosive Rockers, Floor Master Dancers, Out to Burn, Out to Rock, Born to Rock, Born to Burn, TNT Rockers, Incredible Rockers, Latin Timbales, Galaxy Rockers, Unique Rockers, and Majestic Rockers. This extreme number of crews lead to an extreme amount of competition.


Unfortunately fierce competition did not go without mishaps. Though many battles would end peacefully, several others did not. Rubberband Man's final battle ended in a violent outcome.


Rubberband participated in a dance battle, in which the opposing dancer's girlfriend was put up as a prize. Ultimately, Rubberband won the contest and claimed his prize. The jealous boyfriend shot Rubberband as he was leaving the dance club with his new "prize" girlfriend. It was a tragic ending, a true legend was lost, but the dance continued to live on.


Dynasty Rockersą Role in History of Uprock


Competition remained strong, and still more dance crews were organized. In 1973 Danny Boy (Danny Negron) and Carlos Perez created the legendary Dynasty Rockers. Manny Figueroa, Eddie Figueroa, Danny Boy and Carlos were the first Dynasty members. Eddie Figueroa learned how to "Rock" from Rubberband Man, and he passed the steps on to Papo, Clark, and Manny in tribute to the memory of Rubberband Man. Dynasty Rockers revolved around leading dancers like "Danny Boy", Carlos, Ralph, Tony, and Gary "Crumb". The popularity of the Dynasty Rockers grew; this gave way to several branches of the crew. The Junior Dynasty Dancers and Girl Dynasty Dancers were organized, and also uprocked on the scene. Not only did the Dynasty Rockers bring new skills to Uprocking, but they were the first non-gang affiliated crew to flash the word "Rockers" on their "Colors"(Colors were originally used to identify individual gangs). "We used shirts or jackets and put our crew name on the back in a circle formation. The shirts, jackets, and sweaters were our colors and the letters were our Rockers"-King Uprock.


Late 1970's through 1980's


By late 1970 Uprock had itąs own identity as a serious dance form. There were dozens of crews in Brooklyn by this time. Uprock was taken very seriously by it's advocates. The high stakes for Battling often included money, women, bragging rights, and shirts, which was one of the highest stakes in a battle. If you lost your shirt you lost your nickname and your crew's name.


In 1980 the biggest title in Brooklyn was up for grabs. The title was "King Uprock". All the best Uprockers in Brooklyn came together to compete in one contest. The title was won by Ralph Casanova, who now holds the King Uprock title.


By the mid-80's and into the 90's Uprock began to wither down. (B-boying) breaking became more popular. Many Uprockers got married, acquired full time jobs, became B-boys themselves, or had other situations that took them out of the game. The only way that Uprock was present during this time was in a modified form called "Top Rock", which was done by B-boys. Top Rock was not the correct form of the original Brooklyn Uprock Dance, and in essence, Uprocking became dormant for a few years.


Making a Come Back


In the early-90s two B-boys (Numbers and Burn One) started a search for original Brooklyn Uprockers. They brought out legendary dancers like King Uprock, Clarkie, Lil Dave, Noel, Cuz, Buz, Duz, Diana, Danny Boy, Lil Ed, Lucan, Manny, Carlos, Jefferey, Gary Crums, Lil Tito, Lil Bebop, Gee, Disco Ed, Mr Loose, Rocky Nelson, Chino and other original Uprockers to help spread the true essence of the dance. These members have participated in several major Hip Hop events, such as Zulu Nation Anniversary and the B-boy Masters Pro-Am. The true pioneers are an essential element in the growth of this dance style.


Dynasty Now


Dynasty Rockers presently has seven members that are active in the Hip Hop community. Existing members are: King Uprock, Numbers, Break Easy, Seamstar, Danny Boy, New Danny Boy, and Antonio. King Uprock heads the crew as leader and teacher. He currently teaches classes in Brooklyn as well. Numbers and Danny (New Danny Boy) live in Las Vegas, Nevada. Seamstar is an active DJ in Florida, and Antonio currently lives in Switzerland. In 2002 Dynastyąs Goal is to educate people about Uprock and bring it back into the street dance scene so that they can take it to the future and beyond.



What Is Uprock?


Uprock is a soulful, competitive street dance. It was developed in the Bushwick area of Brooklyn between 1967 and 1968 by two men; Rubberband Man and Apache. Uprock is danced in synchronization to the rhythms of Soul and Funk music; and certain Rock songs. The dance consists of foot shuffles, spins, turns, freestyle movements, sudden body movements called "jerks", and hand gestures called "burns". The "Uprock" dance involves two or more dancers, single or as a team, dancing alternatively or simultaneously, performing what is called a dance battle (-Breakeasy).Uprockers battle throughout the duration of a complete song (from the beginning to the end) in a line formation called the "Apache Line". The Apache Line allows two opposing dancers or crews to face each other and execute their "burn" gestures towards one another. Although Uprockers sometimes emulate fight moves with their "burns", physical contact is never allowed. Physical contact is usually a sign of inexperience. If an Uprocker is experienced he or she will not make any physical contact in order to "Burn" his or her opponent. Experienced Uprockers are also familiar with the songs that they dance to, and they use the lyrics and sounds of the music to out-do their opponent. Uprock is mastered with discipline, patience, heart, soul, and knowledge. In order to grasp the essence of the dance and become a good Uprocker, one must become familiar with the HISTORY of Uprock.

The Uprock Battle (Apache Line) by Break Easy

The Uprocking Battle is similar to the Breakin Battle. It needs another opponent or teamate in order to battle or do a routine. Uprocking is a "dance" which uses the entire song that is played. Uprock uses the music in its entirety, unlike breakin which is a temporary body in motion for the "Break" of a song.


Uprocking needs opposing individuals or groups formed in a "Apache Line" as to where the B-Boy battle is in a circle. Each member is lined up against his or her opponent and uses the Uprock music in his or her favor. The music is the guideline for when to execute a jerk, burn, or freestyle. Therefore, knowledge of the music is very important in the Battle scene. Each Rocker must keep in his/her line formation until he is either tapped to step out by another rocker or the opponent gives out.


A Rocker must execute a jerk or burn at the "break" and dance freestyle or burn throughout the rest of the music played. He or she uses the music's, lyric or sound in his or her favor in order to create the illusion of a story. This is unlike a breaker who steps in, "Breaks", then steps out for part of the music.


When Rockers are in battle, he or she may be tapped on the shoulder by another, to let the next Rocker member in the battle confrontation. Then he or she steps out and the next rocker is in the battle. This is a sign of respect for both Rockers.


In an Apache line where there are two groups in confrontation the members must stay in line formation and can switch partners in keeping the Battle line in motion. The initial basic move is the freestyle or routines if any until the break of a record. At the "break" is where the Jerk or Burn is then executed. Both members must alternate there Burns or Jerks with no physical contact. If there is physical contact there is no point or burn given to the one who touched the other.


The Rocking Battle does not necesarilly use burn after burn there must be a constant rotation of burns and jerks in order to give each opponent the space to burn the other with style. There really is no losing in the Battle it is the knowledge of the music and the styling of dance that wins in favor of the Rocker.

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