How to dance locking

Your Guide to Popping and Locking

© Sinisa Kanizaj / Red Bull Content Pool

How did popping and locking come to be? Find out more about the dance style and the moves to create more emotive dances.

Written by Red Bull Editorial Team

4 min readPublished on

Popping and locking have inspired hip hop, dubstep, and other modern dance moves for a long time. These two dance styles differ in their movements, though. While both dance styles tend to intertwine, popping and locking is a combined style of dance that has a very distinct rhythm. This unique move is the combination of two movements: the pop and the lock.

What Is Popping and Locking?

Popping has its roots in Fresno, California, and is the creation of Sam “Boogaloo Sam” of the group Electric Boogaloos. Locking is the creation of Don Campbell, a member of the Lockers, a Los Angeles group. These two moves combine to form a basis for hip hop, dubstep, and contemporary dancers to play into their choreography. Here's a guide to help you understand the moves and how you can up your popping and locking game so you can get better and create more emotive dances.

Practice Popping With Some Basic Moves

Dive into perfecting your popping by learning some of the basics. First of all, popping involves contracting and relaxing your muscles, creating a hit effect when you put it to the beat of the music you're dancing to. You can use popping in quick successions or in slow and controlled movements to add emphasis to certain beats in the music.

Popping Simcho performs at the Red Bull Dance Your Style Pre-World Final

© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

The Forearm Hit

To get the hang of popping, start with a basic forearm hit or forearm pop. Just contract and relax the muscles of your forearm to the beat of the music, either in fast hits or slow hits to reflect the different points in the rhythm that you want to make stand out in your dance.

The Chest Pop

When you do a chest pop, you're pretty much doing the same thing as you do with a forearm hit, except the movement is in your chest muscles. Contract your chest inward quickly, almost where it feels like you're jerking your body in, but keep it controlled. Relax the tension in your chest muscles as quickly as you contract, and repeat the motion in the pattern you need for your choreography.

Play with this move by contracting and relaxing the muscles in your chest as you shift your body parts in different directions during your dance routine. Combine your forearm hits with your chest pops to create a flow to the music. You can use these two popping moves to form the basis of other moves you put into your dances.

Next Comes Locking

Locking is just stopping right in the middle of a quick movement and holding that position for a moment before flowing back into your dance. It's pretty easy to do. Just go through your routine and put these stops at different points in the music that you want to accent with your body. Freeze your dance in a position that drives your choreography to the rhythm, hold it for a couple of beats, and continue the routine. Here are some signature lock dance moves you can practice to hone your skills as a dubstep or hip hop dancer.

Greenteck poses for a portrait during the Red Bull Dancers Tour Japan

© Little Shao/Red Bull Content Pool

Ask for Five

This locking dance step looks like the hand signal for a high five. To pull off this lock, listen for the points in the music where you want to put your stop, and start playing it out in your choreography. Dance your routine and lock your hand in a high-five position for several beats.

This looks awesome when you follow through with a forearm hit to emphasize the beat of the music. You can use the ask for five move in a few different ways. In one, you can do it one-handed where you freeze your hand right in front of your body, or you can use both hands as you flow with forearm hits. It's really up to you how much or how little you put the move into your dance steps.

Locking Points

To pull off this lock, incorporate pointing in your choreography. Dance your routine and at certain beats through the music, freeze your hand while pointing at something or someone. This can accent your moves in a really cool-looking way on stage, especially if you're performing with live musicians, so you can lock point at the guitarist, drummer, or other person playing on stage with you.

Popping and locking are unique dance moves that have a long history of influencing popular and mainstream hip hop and other dance styles. Today, street dancers who favor contemporary styles like funk dances and dubstep can use the popping and locking moves to bring out the music, beat, and one-of-a-kind dance style. So give some of these moves a try, and if you're up for learning more, there are always dance lessons from the pros.

What is Locking? (with pictures)



Fact Checked

Locking was initially called Campbellocking after its inventor, Don Campbell. Campbell was a dancer who appeared on numerous shows in the late 1960s and early 1970s, but performers like James Brown, who also used similar techniques in performing his music, may have inspired him. Locking is often associated with break dancing today, but it occurred much earlier than many of today's forms of hip hop. It’s still used regularly and unlike some versions of hip hop, may be more often performed to funk or pop music than to rap.

The basic locking form is to hold a movement, usually well coordinated with music, after some fast dancing movements. The dancer remains, for a few seconds, locked in place, before resuming dancing. Dancers often work extremely hard to coordinate these moves with music and sudden freezes, that emphasize form, isolation, and music. So it can be said the form of dance is extremely musically aware.

There are a number of lock steps which are often combined with popping. In fact locking is often thought to have inspired popping. When a pop and lock are used, a dancer isolates a muscle movement with a hard hit. Imagine hitting a wall, which stops your movement. Popping essentially provides an invisible wall, so the muscle isolation pops or hits. This movement then may be locked, or frozen for a few seconds, based on inflections in music used.

Some dancers argue strongly that pop and lock, though emerging at approximately the same time in dance history in the 1970s, are really two separate forms. A pop is much more of a serious dance, whereas locking is more fun, celebratory and playful. Plus, most forms of popping consist of series of pops, one after the other. Some describe it as a series of freeze frame photographs. A lock tends to occur through a dance as isolated stops in what are otherwise a variety of fluid and sometimes frenetic moves. Some merge the forms, but others argue that the two forms should exist separately.

There are a huge variety of lock steps, and many of them involve collapsing the body before locking in place in one way or another. The dancer then emerges out of the collapse into a lock. Other features in locking include splits; look at James Brown and Prince performances for these forms of lock steps. Landing on the knees, and holding various other positions, including some taken from mime are also common.

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent MusicalExpert contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

Tricia Christensen

Tricia has a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and has been a frequent MusicalExpert contributor for many years. She is especially passionate about reading and writing, although her other interests include medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion. Tricia lives in Northern California and is currently working on her first novel.

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Dance Locking - Locking.

Locking is a funky dance style also associated with hip-hop. The name of this style comes from the English "lock" (lock), so they began to call a combination of fast movements and fading in improvisational positions for a short time, and then continuing the movements at the same speed.


Locking (translated from English as “blocking, locking”) is one of the directions that separated from hip-hop, based on its large-amplitude movements, turns, jumps, throwing arms and legs. Locking is performed at high speed and with great impact. Almost no battle goes without locking.

Technically, locking is very close to its progenitor - hip-hop , so many basic elements were borrowed from there: sharp and intense movements, various throwing and shaking hands, jumps of different types and levels.

There are two basic elements in the lock itself: “ lock ” (“lock”) and “ point ” (“point”). The combination of lock and point form the basis of this dance: the constant change of sharp fixation of the body and the performance of original movements. Thus, locking is a synthesis of movement and immobility.

Locking is characterized by sharpness and discontinuity in performance, therefore it has a broken rhythm, in which the alternation of movements and “freezes” fit very harmoniously. The main music to which locking is danced is funk.

Funk (English funk) is one of the fundamental currents of African American music. The term denotes a musical direction, along with soul, which makes up rhythm and blues. Funk, first of all, is dance music, which determines its musical features: the ultimate syncopation of parts of all instruments, pulsating rhythm, screaming vocals, repeated repetition of short melodic phrases.

Historical certificate

USA, 1969, dancer Don Campbel forms a new style as a pop version of folk dance and calls it in honor of himself - “Campballoking”, then a more laconic the modern name is locking.

Locking spread through the US to European countries, along with hip-hop conquered new horizons, gaining more and more fans around the world. Europeans, having adopted the basics of dance from advanced lockers from America, brought many new features to locking, developing it in their countries.

Over the entire period of the existence of locking in the United States, a whole school of new generation lockers has grown, among which are Richie Rich , Luza Kabuza , Flo Masters , etc.

are already in almost every country top-class lockers, whose task is to pass on their skills to other dancers so that the development of this bright and original style continues.

Locking -
cheerful dance , he infects everyone around him with his positive energy. If you lack positive emotions, then locking is the best solution!

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Locking - positive funky dance

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  • Locking - positive funky dance

    If you are an unusually positive person who is looking for something new and unusual, then the locking dance is what you need. This is one of the most positive funky dances. Locking is characterized by a comic, comical manner of performance.

    The dance owes its name to a set of dance movements called "locks". The foundations of this dance direction were laid in the nightclubs of Los Angeles in the early seventies. Gradually, locking came into fashion.

    Despite a certain improvisational approach to performance, locking has a number of basic movements that are clearly fixed and should be performed by all dancers in the same way. These include fast “locking” elements (locking), “pointing” (pointing), as well as hand claps (slaps, claps, giving five) and splits (splits). All movements are performed in a sharp manner. There are many tricks - throwing hands, looping hands, jumping, swinging arms and legs. If locking is performed by a team of dancers, then you can see the overall synchronization of movements. It looks truly unforgettable and exciting.

    Locking is based almost exclusively on basic movements. Therefore, in order to achieve the highest level of mastery, it is necessary to pay special attention to the basis of the dance and the quality of performance. If a dancer improvises a lot without using movements from the dance base, then he already loses to the one who performs the basic movements in advance. Thus, locking is a kind of constructor from many details that the dancer must be able to put together. The more interesting and competent he is able to do this, the higher his skill.

    However, following the base does not mean that you need to completely forget about the moments of improvisation. Being able to dance to the specific music that is playing at the moment, without preparation, is also important for all funk styles, including locking. Sometimes it's quite difficult. For example, if there is a pause in the music, then the dancer must immediately stand in a certain position - lock, and freeze. If you are familiar with the basic elements, then this will not be difficult.

    Like most modern dances, locking includes elements of acrobatics, which, in turn, requires good physical preparation. To perform individual elements, you even need to use protective knee pads, at least in training.

    Consider a few basic locking movements:
    1) Lock (lock) is an abrupt stop when the dancer seems to freeze.

    Learn more