Taking Up Room on the Floor, Then the World

Dancer No Noize performing as part of a video directed by Yoram Savion.

Screenshot by Will Nacouzi/The Skyline View

Dancer No Noize performing as part of a video directed by Yoram Savion.

Nico Triunfante, TSV Writer

If you’ve ever walked past Forever 21 on Powell Street in San Francisco, it’s unlikely you’d miss the loud music and a large, energetic group of dancers, showing off their Michael Jackson-like feet, and arm contortion. To tourists and the non-dancing crowd of the Bay Area, this may just look like a bunch of kids finding ways to make money off of dancing. Little do they know that it is, but a way of life, for these kids; this lifestyle is known as Turfing.

Remember back when the Hyphy Movement was still around in the Bay Area? Remember when going “dumb” was a fun phase for a lot of us in high school? I’m sure we all had those days when we would scream the lyrics to “Ghost Ride It” by Mistah F.A.B., or follow along with the “Thizzle Dance” by Mac Dre. Nowadays, especially in the Bay Area’s nightlife, we have “Yiken”, which came after a few dances like the “J12” of Clyde Carson’s “Slow Down”. But where did these dances originate? Again, we find that the answer is Turfing.

Turfing started back in the 1990s in Oakland, California, which was a mixture of Popping and Boogaloo dance styles. Oakland residents used the original acronym T.U.R.F. (Taking Up Room on the Floor) to claim territories by the way that they danced. Specific moves indicated where you were from. For instance, the “Brookfield,” which is a dance that looks like you’re gliding on ice, was originated in the Brookfield Village of Oakland. Now, it’s made its way from this village to not only other parts of the Bay Area, but across the region and the world.

If you had watched America’s Got Talent in 2012, a street performer by the name of Alonzo “Turf” Jones, found his way from the streets of San Francisco to the big screens in Las Vegas. While previously being a viewer from his San Francisco days, his performances consisted of gliding, arm contortion, which they call “Bone Breaking,” and a King Tut style of dance. Finding abnormal angles and twists that the regular human body cannot find is his specialty. Influencing many adolescents under his wings, he provided the roadmap for Turfing to the rest of the world.

Another Turfer named Beejay “Strobe” Sao, is one of the most popular Turfers in the Bay Area. The focus of his style of Turfing is in his outlandish angles found in the King Tut. With the ability to make boxes, triangles, and shapes that seem impossible at first glance with his arms, definitely creates a large aura of entertainment for his audience. From his dancing creativity which started in 2010, he has proliferated into a worldwide performer, performing in Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and soon Germany to name a few. In an interview, he claims that Turfing is a “lifestyle; a dance in which I am able to tell my story.” Sao says that, “Turf dancing saved a lot of our generation’s youth. We come from the bad parts of the Bay, so this is what kept us out of jail, or even death.” Turfing has created an atmosphere of hope, creativity, and peace for the Bay Area’s current generation, and will continue on to “be in history as one of the greatest dance styles, period!”.

Turfing is but a click away, once you’re on YouTube. If you get the chance to see what Turfing is like, hopefully you would see what all these adolescents see in it; the enjoyment in dancing, the thrill of battles, and the creativity that they see in their minds. Take a chance, and who knows, maybe you’ll end up trying it out yourself!

Directed and edited by Yoram Savion , Music by Yung FX, Erk tha Jerk & COOP. Dancers are No Noize (red jacket), Man (black jacket), BJ (striped shirt), Dreal (white shirt).