Hullo mortals! LOL, my greetings seem to affected by Halloween and I think something has possessed me for real. Oh! Umm….I was talking about Rocking. Nothing scary, ya know! Pushing my lameness aside, I’ll get back to what I am here for. We all are aware that understanding any art form takes a lifetime. But during the course, you discover many more relevant elements of the art along with yourself. Just as breaking got me introduced to rocking and so uprocking back to history has been a part of me. According to me, rocking is “the dancing” we all keep on searching as breakers. Not going in the philosophical part so early, but here’s what I found after digging around.
Rocking or Uprocking evolved in NYC around late 1960s. I came across the names of these two men called Rubberband Man and Apache who once lived in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. With the dangerous gang culture rooting around, the two actually shifted their focus from violence to dancing. They were often seen dancing by the streetside inspired by Gene Kelly, Fred Astaire, Salsa and Hustle. They did the foot shuffles, spins, shakes, turns, freestyle movements, jerky body movements called ‘jerks’ and hand gestures and thus rocking came into existence. The hand gestures aka ‘burns’ were actually incorporated in rocking by Apache to humiliate the opponent.
So basically, these two ended up making a dance style in order to channelise their energy to achieve greater and definitely peaceful skills. A man named Crazy Rob had organized the first Uprock battle in existence. Later Brooklyn became the grounds for many such contests. But late 60’s and early 70’s were still the time of gangs. And alas! Rubberband had to meet his end in a jealous dance rift. Rubberband had participated in a battle wherein the opponent’s girlfriend was the “prize”. He won and claimed the prize girlfriend but the jealous boyfriend shot Rubberband as he was leaving the club. It was certainly a tragic ending of a legend.
The legend died, but the dance lived on! A follower of Rubberband, Eddie Figueroa passed on the intricacies and moves of Uprocking in the memory of this lost legend.
As the number of competitions increased, the stakes also increased. They included money, bragging rights, women and SHIRTS. Oh yes, the shirts were one of the highest stakes in a battle. If a dancer loses his shirt, he/she loses their name as well as their crew’s name. At that time, the shirts used to imrpinted with the crew’s name and people used to battle to acquire each other’s shirts. Gosh! All I can do is sit here, imagine it all in my head and drool over it man. Nevertheless.
Rise of Uprocking Crews
With the rising popularity among the other hoods and Brooklyn, various rock dance competitions came up. While the Brooklyn rockers kept their jerk and burn style intact, the other rockers preferred not to. Brooklyn was the only hood to practice the primitive type of rocking which included disrespectful gestures inspired from gang culture. But as I mentioned before, people still do practice and preserve it as they are the roots to be cherished forever.
Many crews like Latin Timbales, Mysterious To Burn, Universal Dancers, Dynamic Spinners, Rock With Class, Touch Of Class, TNT Rockers, Holy Smoke Rockers, Incredible Rockers, Rock With Style, Lil Daves Rockers, MTC (Music To Communicate), Jig O Bugs, Explosive Rockers, Down To Burn, Touch of Rock, Just Begun Rockers and Down To Rock were formulated back then. But the first Uprocking crew in Brooklyn was Dynasty Rockers which was established by Carlos Perez and Danny Boy Negron in 1973. which is still active with King Uprock as the President.
On the other hand, The Bronx Boys Rocking Crew lead by Batch was the first uprocking crew in Bronx. Originally established as a graffiti crew, they heavily hit/wrote on the metro buses. Cash established it in 1974 along with Shark and Batch who all became the founding members of TBB. Later Batch formed The Bronx Boys Rocking Crew which now has spread it’s wings globally just like Dynasty Rockers, VII Gems Rock Division, Mastermind Rockers, Time 2 Rock (CA), Forever We Rock (CA), Breaks Kru, Rock Lordz (MN, KS, NV), Incredible Rockers, For The Rock (Russia) and Ready To Rock.
TBB became known for great amount of members and skilled rockers getting down on the floor. In TBB’s successful days, Afrika Bambaata discussed a peace treaty with them. Thus since 1977, Zulu and TBB met as brothers and sisters at every jam.
But Batch had to reluctantly disband TBB on June 16th, 1979 due to reasons. But people like Jimmy Lee and Jimmy Dee kept repping TBB. They reincarnated it by the name “Rock Steady” which also met it’s end soon. Yet with no original members left, the crew’s name found it’s way in the younger generations of Manhattan. Later Aby(Batch’s younger brother) and Trace 2(TBB original member) finally decided and restored the rocking crew with a little change in the name. TBB became – The Bronx Boys/Bronx Girls(TBB/TBG) Rocking Crew Global. And now it has become diverse and larger than it was with bboys, bgirls, DJs, MCs, poets, activists, writers, educators, videographers, promoters, photographers and many other professionals.
Breaking Gains Fame
Though sadly around mid-80’s, rocking started to fade away. Breaking arose and breakers outnumbered the rockers. Some uprockers moved on in life while some started to break. Uprocking appeared yet again; but with a new form and name – Toprocking which is an element of Breaking itself.
Rocking had lost it’s recognition but thanks to King Uprock for rebuilding the vibe again. A breaker named Numbers had started to seek the uprockers and original techniques. It took him a few years to reach out to King Uprock and invite him to a Bboy jam in Florida. King Uprock’s presence made a great impact and led to rebirth of uprocking once again. Great ups to Numbers!
So much of history and there is still more to say. But I am not blurting it out now. I shall keep it for the next part of the same topic. For now, I want to thank all the brothers, sisters, mothers and fathers who actually made all this history happen. We are learning a lot. We are so grateful. Gracias!
And y’all stay tuned for the Part 2 of Uprocking Back To Hip Hop History.
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Until then, keep deciphering the streets.
Laters! Peace 🙂