Boogaloo: The Dance That Defined Oakland's Culture
Inspired by James Brown and the Black Panthers, the Black Resurgents are one of the dance crews who pioneered Oakland's boogaloo dance, the foundation of many other funk styles. However, their cultural contributions are little-known outside of the Bay. Meet these veteran dancers passing on their tradition to a new a generation, bridging the gap between boogaloo, pop-locking and turf dancing.
(high tempo funk beat)
- Hey, hey, what's happening with you fam?
This is your dude, Mr. Ricky Wilson G.
Oakland, California, baby.
Home of the boogaloo, Town business.
And let me show you around.
(upbeat music continues )
We were just a bunch of poor kids
that didn't have a lot of money,
but had a massive imagination.
- [Traci] This is before hip hop.
The name hip hop was not even thought of
for another 10 years.
- [Johnny] Our Ogs, the boogaloos,
you gotta show respect.
People need to know where the foundation comes from.
- [Will R.] We have to protect the art form's name,
that we have to protect the culture.
(upbeat funk music)
♪ Come on
(slower funk and jazz beat)
♪ Here are four gentlemen
♪ we have to line on top of us
♪ and I've been thinking of singing this song to you ♪
♪ Ladies and gentlemen, Black Resurgents ♪
- [Ricky G.] Here we are, back at the old stomping grounds.
The Black Resurgents,
we've been rolling almost 50 years as a crew.
When I dance boogaloo, I feel free.
The core of it stems from moving your body with a flow
like a puppeteer.
- [Will R.] Moving your body in space, in time with music,
and then just pose so that it tickles the eye gate,
that's what boogalooing is.
(upbeat funk tune, fingers snapping)
- [Will B.] There were a lot of things were poured
into the soil of this city that made it ripe
for the birth of this art.
Oakland in the '60s
amongst the African American community
was a blue collar city,
and the most of the Black neighborhoods
were quite underserved.
Then came the Panthers,
and the Panthers literally gave Oakland its identity.
♪ (Women singing) No more brothers in jail ♪
- [William] That simultaneously along
with James Brown, the funk.
♪ Say it loud
♪ I'm black and proud
♪ Say it loud
Ricky G.: When he said "I'm black and I'm proud,"
he stood up for a nation, look at my skin.
(fast, down-tempo funk tune)
- [Ricky G.] During the Black Panther days,
they would hire us to dance at the rally.
Out of the tension that was going on sprang this dance
as a way of self expression.
(funk music continues)
In the East Oakland area,
they would raise money by having talent shows;
dance, singing groups, whatever talent
that you had, you'd showcase.
The Oakland Auditorium is where we learned
to also how to get to the next level.
If you're from Oakland, you wanna be on those shows.
(upbeat funk with slap bass)
- [Traci] I remember the energy that was in the auditorium
and that funky, gritty bass stirred something deep
in the souls of Bay Area youth.
There were so many amazing groups on those stages
including The Black Messengers,
Derrick and Company
Gentlemen of Production,
Granny and the Robotroids,
Close Encounters of the Funkiest Kind,
(reprise of funky tune with fingers snapping)
- [Will R.] West Oakland, that's a whole different world.
- [Will B.] West Oakland pioneered a very theatrical style
of dance called head snatching.
I chose to get involved as deep as I did as an alternative
to getting in trouble,
to the things that were going on out here in the streets.
Boogaloo was more than just a dance.
It has provided a way of survival for some of us.
[Will R.] The BRS Alliance represents boogalooing,
roboting, and strutting, was formulated in 2000.
- [Will B.] We decided to form an organization
called OBM, Original Boogaloo Movement.
- [Will R.] We along with several others came up
with this thing about having outside barbecue to honor,
and to respect, in reverence, the pioneers.
And not only boogaloo,
our young buddies, turfers from around the Town.
(funk music with deep bass riffs)
- [Will R.] Turfing in the millennial is
what boogalooing was in the 70s.
- [Levi] Turf dancing is
like the little brother of boogalooing.
Movements come from boogalooing.
Turfing is boogalooing without the hit.
- [Johnny] Now these days with TikTok
all these people just learn how to do this without knowing
where it comes from,
who made it.
You gotta show respect to that.
We need to educate the world.
- [Man] What do we want?
- [Crowd] Justice.
- [Man] When do we want it?
- [Crowd] Now.
- [News Announcer Outrage over the death of George Floyd
[Johnny] For me to be an Oakland native,
and then the whole protest happening in my town,
but it's also very beautiful
that my people were standing up for their rights.
- [Crowd] Black lives matter.
Black lives matter.
- [News Announcer] There are growing concerns tonight about
the rise of the so-called boogaloo movement.
- [Ricky G] We all start hearing
about these so-called Boogaloo Bois,
creating chaos right here in the Town.
(down tempo funk beat)
[Will B.] Misusing, abusing, and misappropriating that name,
it cut me straight to my soul.
[Will R.] We do not want this organization using
the name boogaloo.
- [Will B.] We decided to issue a statement
that would kind of galvanize us all,
and it kind of from there,
it just kind of took off.
(music picks up in tempo)
International Boogaloo Day is about us speaking up
for the culture of boogaloo in its original form.
- [Traci] It's important more than ever
to preserve our cultural identity.
♪ All aboard
(ethereal funk, jazz beat)
Boogaloo is an extension of African spirituality.
When you think about African ritual
before the colonizers.
- [Ricky G.] Boogaloo is the reason why we're standing here
with our fists raised up high.
We speaking not only just
for our city of Oakland, California.
We speaking for our nation.
- [Will R.] We gotta continue to do our part.
Continue to push the preservation of the art form forward.
- [Ricky] Take what you want from the buffet of boogaloo,
'cause we not finished yet.
We not finished.
Black Resurgents, baby.
♪ All aboard
♪ All aboard
(music continues through credits)
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