Anarchist of the Month: The Lockers

Inspired by my video post for Thelonious Monk, I had to bring my choice for December’s “Anarchist of the Month” a little closer to the age of, well, pre-hip-hop. And so I chose the pioneering street dance troupe the Lockers, who innovated and popularized locking. The group’s founder, Don Campbell, invented the dance in 1970 while trying to overcome a shyness for dancing, locking his body into various poses in between moves. In the process, he created a new street dance revolution that—especially after he formed his crew—became the boogie emblem of post-black power urban America, stylin’ and on the move. I know I’m not the only one who sat stiff and glued to the TV watching the Lockers on Soul Train or What’s Happening (Rerun was a member) and feeling an immense sense of pride. Here was a ghetto dance posse who, more than doing the latest dance, rocked a new dance vocabulary, one that supremely showcased the confidence of young people of color. And, moreover, had impacted everyone from the Jackson 5 to Dick Van Dyke, and influenced future street dance movements from electric boogaloo to voguing. Not to mention the stars the Lockers became (appearances on Saturday Night Live and the Grammys) and the superstars some of its members (Fred Berry, Toni Basil, and Shabba-Doo) would become. Below is a video of the Lockers rocking the Train. Enjoy.