Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area where Hyphy, and nationwide terminology is rooted from, the world has yet to fully experience Turfing, a dance style that enables Bay Area youth to fully express themselves through intricate bodily movements, and a flow that serenades to everyone watching.
Story: Nico Blitz // @nicoakablitz
Videos: YAKFilms, KQED Arts
TURF is an acronym that stands for “Taking Up Room on the Floor”. This style derived from Oakland, California in the 1990s, and easily made it’s way around the entire Bay during the beginning of the 21st Century.
A couple groups who helped popularize the style via Youtube include the Animainiakz and the Turf Feinz. The first Turf video that went viral was the YAKFilms production featuring the Turf Feinz ; an ode to friend RichD, titled “Dancing in the Rain Oakland Street”.
More groups began to emerge, including Unknown?, HEAT, and SwaggaRight, who became some of the most noteworthy dance groups that influenced what we see today.
By 2012, the movement began to die out. The youth that used to express themselves through dance became fewer and fewer throughout the years. However, Turf Dancing groups began to join forces in order to create an alliance that pursued to keep the passion alive.
Recently, dancers like Dopey Fresh – Turfer of KnuckleNeckTribe, Unknown, and Artfacts – and Algerion “The Krow” Bryant – Turfer of HEAT, No Mercy, and Rebel Squvd – and more made their way to the KQED Arts stage, combining their styles with Alonzo King Lines Ballet of San Francisco, California.
We continually see the progression of dance styles throughout time. Growing up, I used to get looked at in weird ways because the Turf Dancing style was very unfamiliar to people. Now, we see the style making moves, incorporating themselves with other styles to create something totally different, and appealing to say the least.
At the end of the day, a style is nothing more than a label. To say that Turf Dancing is not an art form in itself is pure ignorance. The idea is that people who look at the unfamiliar are quick to criticize and easily judge without taking a breath. It’s time for all us audience members to avoid one-sided thinking, and be able to expand on the definition of art.
I will forever give my thumbs up to all Turf dancers. I am no longer part of the movement, but the movement has not left me, and will forever reside in my memories and the future that plans to take the passion even further than it is now.