House Dancer

Underground culture is often times hard to document. Toes are stepped on, memories differ, and people are offended or forgotten. There is also the problem that dances, even the established and recognized forms like ballet, are notoriously hard to accurately archive.  The sooner people start writing, filming, and talking about their experiences and spreading the knowledge, the more likely we will be able safeguard our dance heritage for the generations to come.  This is especially true of a relatively new dance form like house dancing.

Byron Cox dancer

Byron Cox of

I was recently delighted to find a fantastic source for house dancing called It seems like they are located in New York, but they have videos from dance workshops and festivals all over the world.  Fortunately for us, they are chipping away at providing information about the history of house dance, sub-categories of the genre, and prominent innovators of the dance form.  I’m still confused about exactly what lofting, jacking, and stomping are but at least people are starting the process of defining these styles.  This post lists significant contributors to house dance, and an interesting comment by someone who as an originator of lofting, is offended that he is left out! I hope this type of dialogue doesn’t deter the writers because now I want to find out more about the offendee and his history!

Chicago The Warehouse

The Warehouse in Chicago – the birth place of house music

I don’t think there will ever be definitive answers regarding the history of house dancing, after all there are differing opinions on where the term house music comes from in the first place.  The Warehouse night club in Chicago?  Music that you would play at your house?  I kind of think it’s more likely the first one, but it just goes to show that sometimes there is more than one meaning and maybe the truth is somewhere in the middle. Another thing about club and street styles of dancing that makes them hard to codify is that by nature they are free style and have to do with personal spontaneous expression. I’ve never seen two waackers waack the same way, that’s for sure!

To find out more about the dancers and choreographers contributing to, check out their House Dance Project page. You can also see videos of dancing and interviews and find out more about their mission as ambassadors of house dance. I truly believe that much of the innovation and breakthroughs in dance come from the streets and the discotheques. Thanks guys for all your hard work and gorgeous dancing and sharing it all with the world!

Intro to Waacking and Vogueing with Rashad Pridgen

The Spectre of the Rose and I attended Rashad Pridgen’s Intro to Waacking and Vogue a couple of nights ago. It was all that we hoped for and more! Well worth the $15 cost, it was an hour and a half of popular dance history, challenging and fun choreography, as well as a thorough warm up.

dancer and teacher Rashad Pridgen

Photo of Rashad Pridgen by Assad “Invent” Conley

Rashad took the time to talk about the origins of waacking in the 1970’s and it’s relation to locking and that indeed, it’s one of the styles that was seen on Soul Train. He also took the time to break down each of the steps and made sure everyone knew where the movement originated from in the body as well as the attitude behind the movements.

It was also quite thrilling to dance to Masters of Work and Jody Watley, among others, in the huge and spacious Center Space Studio. It’s rare that you get to hear this kind of music when you aren’t in a crowded nightclub and can really move!

Some of the voguing steps we practiced were the duck walk, tossing the ponytail, a basic walk and of course the glamorous poses that are the hallmarks of vogue dancing. Rashad made sure to show the the butchier styles for the male attendants and point out the difference between old voguing styles and the newer vogue femme styles.

Willi Ninja

The Legendary Willi Ninja vogues in Paris is Burning

One thing that I find challenging with the vogue poses is that I tend to want to pose with my hands on my hips and use my whole body, when the vogue style is really about shaping the face with the hands. Everything happens at shoulder height and above, which is not how I naturally pose. It’s interesting taking club and street styles into the classroom, because they really are about personal expression and personal style. Is there really a right way or a wrong way? How do you take a set of directions and evolved moves and make them your own? It can be a little bit difficult to feel fierce in the classroom environment, but Rashad had everyone form a circle at the end and show a little of what they had learned. Remember it is freestyle dance!

It was quite a vigorous workout and The Spectre of the Rose and I both found ourselves dripping with sweat. Those of you just looking for a workout would be whipped into shape in no time when doing these steps. Rashad was so fabulous and fun as a teacher and described one waacking movement as “tossing a glass of champagne.”

Originally from Portland, OR., Rashad currently lives in Northern California and teaches Afro House Hop every Saturday at Dance Mission Theater in San Francisco. He is also known by the name Soul Nubian and regularly teaches special workshops when he is in town. Check back for updates on this great teacher! For more information and updates on classes he is currently teaching you can visit his website at You can see Rashad waacking in the beginning of the promo video below as well as see some of his other specialty dance styles: