Even though Uprocking isn’t as famous as some other dances, it has had a big impact on other street dance styles. For instance, the toprock element in breaking was inspired by Uprock.

In this post, we will get to know more about Uprock, which was shared by three people who love this art form and also wanted to share their stories about how they first started dancing and experienced the journey of this art form.

What is Uprock?

Uprock
Uprock

Definition

What is Uprock? Uprock is a competitive dance that started in Brooklyn, New York, in the late 1960s. Also known as Rock Dance or Brooklyn Rock, it used to be called Rocking. Later, Brooklyn dancers called Apaches adopted it, and they added the ideas of burns and gestures to create the dance. As it spread to other parts of New York City, different movements were added, giving the dance more structure and making it a recognised form of street dance.

Meet Prince Paswan, also known as B-Boy Burst, hailing from Kolkata. He’s been immersed in the world of Uprock since 2012. Leading the crew known as Break Guruz, they stand out as one of the rare groups championing this unique dance form in India.

According to B-Boy Burst, the roots of Uprocking trace back to a time when it was a dance form associated with gang culture. Members would perform it as a sort of prelude to gang fights, illustrating their intended moves against adversaries. Each gang had its distinctive style, employing various props such as:

  • Nunchakus
  • Guns
  • Butterfly knives
  • Incorporating boxing techniques

However, as the 1970s unfolded, there was a positive shift. Uprock began transforming into a means to counter gang violence, evolving from a potentially harmful ritual into a more constructive dance form.

Misunderstanding

Some people might misunderstand these two dances. So, what’s the difference between Toprock and Uprock? The answer will be revealed by Jayanta Samaddar, aka B-Boy Hotshot, another key figure from the Break Guruz Crew, and a trailblazer of Uprock in India.

What’s Toprock? In B-Boy Hotshot’s words, the Toprock element of breaking, a dance form related to Uprock, draws some inspiration from rocking. However, there’s a significant distinction. Toprock is typically a precursor, happening before a breaker transitions into the ‘get down,’ which involves footwork or power moves.

On the other hand, Uprocking stands out as a complete dance performed throughout the entire song, showcasing its unique characteristics and contributing to the rich tapestry of street dance in India.

Next is Arif Chaudhary, also known as B-Boy Flying Machine, hailing from Mumbai. According to him, most hip-hop dances find their roots intertwined with Uprock.

In B-Boy Flying Machine’s perspective, Rock Dance, a precursor to breaking, played a crucial role in shaping toprock. Unlike breaking, Rock Dance doesn’t incorporate power moves, but it stands out for its infectious groove.

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B-Boy Flying Machine emphasizes the rich cultural essence discovered by African American dancers within Rock Dance, adding a distinctive and native flavor to the dance form. It’s a testament to the dance’s evolution and its significant influence on the broader spectrum of hip-hop dances.

What kind of music is used in uprock?

Uprock, a dance form with its roots deeply intertwined with the streets, finds its rhythmic expression in the beats of rock, soul, and funk music. Traditionally, it evolved alongside a curated selection of songs characterized by a robust and driving beat. B-Boy Burst, sharing insights into the preferred musical backdrop for Uprock, emphasizes the effectiveness of funk and soul tunes that boast a strong, hard beat.

  • He points to his all-time favorite, “Give It Up Or Turn It a Loose” by James Brown, as a prime example. The soulful voice paired with a powerful beat creates the ideal ambiance for Uprocking.
  • Other tracks in his repertoire include “The Mexican” by the British band Babe Ruth and “Apache” by the Incredible Bongo Band, both cherished for their suitability to the Rocking style.
A James Brown's track
A James Brown’s track

However, B-Boy Burst highlights the consistently irresistible allure of James Brown’s tracks, attributing their soulful vocals and pulsating beats as the X-factor that sets the stage perfectly for the expressive and rhythmic movements of Uprock. Understanding the symbiotic relationship between Uprock and its musical accompaniment adds another layer to the appreciation of this unique dance form.

What makes Uprock unique?

Uprock, being an urban dance style, carries its distinct charm and personality. For B-Boy Hotshot, the appeal lies in the imaginative aspect of the dance.

Pulling out imaginary weapons from his jacket and engaging in a dance battle without causing any harm creates a unique and energetic experience. He compares the feeling to demolishing personal demons, akin to a boxer training by punching a sandbag – expelling energy without inflicting harm, making it an exhilarating outlet, especially for a kid with boundless energy.

B-Boy Hotshot’s sentiment resonates with the historical backdrop of Rocking. As B-Boy Burst points out, when it originated in New York City, Rocking provided a means for individuals to escape the gang scene.

This historical context adds depth and significance to the dance form, making it more than just movements – it becomes a form of expression and a way to transcend challenging circumstances. The dance not only entertains but also serves as a powerful tool for personal and communal upliftment.

What are the fundamental moves in Uprock?

When exploring the elements of Uprock, B-Boy Burst breaks it down for us, highlighting the key components that define this expressive dance form. According to him, the dance primarily revolves around hand gestures and jerks.

Hand gestures, in essence, are referred to as ‘burns,’ while jerks encompass sudden and dynamic body movements. Further delving into the world of jerks, they can be categorized into:

  • Spins
  • Turns
  • Shuffles
  • Freestyle
  • Drops

Especially, if you’re curious about the last technique listed above, you may found this video helpful!

These elements collectively form the fundamental building blocks of Rocking, laying the groundwork for practitioners to express themselves and engage in the rhythmic and dynamic movements that make Uprock so captivating. Understanding these intricacies provides a deeper appreciation for the skill and creativity involved in mastering this unique style of dance.

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How are Uprock dance battles conducted?

How it woks?

1 vs 1 battle
1 vs 1 battle

In the realm of Uprock battles, there exists a distinct set of rules and technical nuances, akin to other competitive dance forms. Typically structured as 1 vs 1 battles, both dancers engage in a simultaneous performance throughout an entire song.

B-Boy Burst sheds light on the battleground dynamics, emphasizing the significance of an imaginary boundary called the Apache line.

What is Apache line? Apache line is invisible demarcation, drawn between the two opponents, serves as a constraint during the dance battle. Crossing this line is a no-go zone.

B-Boy Flying Machine further elucidates the distinctive approach of Rocking in competitions. Unlike many street dance battles where dancers go round after round, Rocking competitions involve simultaneous performances throughout the entire song. Both competitors share the stage, engaging in a continuous dance-off against each other.

This unique format adds an extra layer of intensity, requiring dancers to maintain their energy and creativity consistently. It highlights the dynamic and interactive nature of Uprock battles, setting them apart from other dance competitions.

How to win the battle?

Victories in these battles are determined by factors such as the most burns, jerks, hand gestures, and overall performance quality. According to B-Boy Burst, the key to success contributing to a dancer’s chances of triumphing in the battle lies in:

  • Infusing character into the dance
  • Incorporating various concepts
  • Storytelling
  • Executing impactful burns

Popularity of the Uprock competitions

While Uprock is a vibrant and expressive street dance, it’s interesting to note that there aren’t many major competitions or dedicated events for this style worldwide. Instead, Uprock battles often find their home as integral components within larger street dance gatherings.

B-Boy Burst shares insights into one such event, “Culture Shock” describing it as a rocking affair that takes place as an underground happening in small jams. Despite its relatively low-key status, it serves as a special gathering for Uprock enthusiasts, offering a unique space for the expression of this distinctive dance form.

Highlighting the global reach of Uprock, B-Boy Flying Machine recounts his participation in the 2019 Rock City Park Jam at Taipei Bboy City. Describing it as a very underground event, he expresses the greatness of his experience.

What is Taipei Bboy City? Taipei Bboy City is an annual international breakdancing (B-boying/B-girling) event that takes place in Taipei, Taiwan. It is a major competition that attracts talented breakdancers from around the world to showcase their skills, compete, and celebrate the culture of hip-hop and street dance.  It serves as a platform for dancers to connect, share experiences, and contribute to the global dance community.

Having a fondness for Uprock but facing limited opportunities to engage in jams back in India, B-Boy Flying Machine took the plunge and participated in Taipei, making it to the top 16. This narrative not only emphasizes the scarcity of dedicated Uprock events but also underscores the commitment and passion of dancers who travel across borders to partake in international gatherings that celebrate and showcase this dynamic dance style.

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