An Oakland man is bringing original turf dancing back to the Bay Area in a big way, and some impressive dancers from Richmond have joined the battles.
We stumbled upon a YouTube video Thursday showing a turf dance battle in July involving Richmond dancer Jasmine “TurferGirl” Haynes, who won the competition.
Her performance prompted the Richmond Standard to contact the video’s poster, Johnny “5” Lopez, to learn more about the dance battles. Lopez raved about Haynes’ dancing.
“She is really humble, a really nice girl,” he said. “She’s always been turf dancing. She incorporated a little popping and tutting, but she kept the original.”
Lopez is the founder of TurfInc, a two-year-old company dedicated to bringing back the original form of turf dancing that was invented in Oakland. Lopez named his company TurfInc because it also encourages incorporating other dance styles into turf dancing.
“The movement was alive around 2004 and 2005, but it died out after a lot of dancers got killed or went to jail,” Lopez said.
The style of dancing morphed into other forms including flex dancing, which is prevalent in New York.
“In New York the [flex] dancing is more like Jamaican reggae, while for us it’s more like Mac Dre, E-40; our stuff is hyphy,” Lopez said.
TURFInc held its first dance battle at a tattoo shop in East Oakland, on 98th and International.
“It brought the community together, we had a blast, and it was coordinated,” Lopez said. “We never had nothing coordinated for turf dancing.”
In order to attract more dancers, Lopez began holding turf dance battles in safer areas. Through a contact at Youth Uprising in Oakland, Lopez met Tom Franco, actor James Franco’s brother, who offered his warehouse space in Berkeley at a discount price for the dance battles.
“I threw about four events at his venue,” Lopez said. “He was really into it.”
The YouTube video posted Thursday was TURFInc’s 12th battle.
Lopez says about two dancers from Richmond have come to compete and hopes to attract more from Richmond and beyond.
Back in the day, Lopez added, Richmond was known for a type of dance called strutting, an “old-school style of popping, waving and boogaloo.”
“My goal is to attract anyone who is part of the Bay Area culture,” he said. “Not everyone has to be a turf dancer to be a part of the family. I just want to bring the dance community together and put turf dancing on the map.”
Lopez also credits Javier Ochoa, founder of High Voltage, for producing the videography for the battles.
The next dance battle will take place at The New Parish in downtown Oakland Oct. 25.