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Easy Step-by-step Popping and Locking

Pop and lock are styles of dance that are normally associated with hip hop and can make up parts of a break dance or b-boy routine. Popping refers a series of movements in which the dancer quickly contracts and then relaxes muscles, causing his body to jerk. Locking is when the dancer quickly freezes after a series of fast, popping movements and holds herself in a still, locked position. When performed together, the popping and locking dance moves create a funky and exciting dance that many people have come to not only enjoy, but respect.

Start by standing straight with arms at your sides.

Isolate and "pop" your rib cage by thrusting it forward as though you were going to bump chests with someone in front of you. Try to keep other body parts still, popping nothing but your rib cage. Make the same movement a few times, popping your rib cage to the left and right as well as forward.

Add shoulders to the mix. Swing your left arm out and to the right side of your body. Flex every muscle in your body, but especially those in your arms, as you round your shoulders. This is what creates that popping effect. Switch sides, swinging your right arm out and to the left side of your body.

Use quick motions as you pop your shoulders forward. Repeat this move twice on each side of the body to get a rhythm. Combine this with the thrusting of the rib cage to create a mini-routine.

Add knees and elbows to the equation. Bringing both arms up and out in front of you, raise one knee. As you raise the knee, lift elbows up so that they are the same height as your shoulders. As you lift them, freeze. Hold your entire body still for a split second. Then raise your elbows a bit more, at the same height as your ears, popping your shoulders the same way you did earlier.

Slam down your arms after you have raised your elbows up the first time ( to your shoulders) and then second time (to your ears), being sure to "lock" after both movements. In your head, count the beats, "Up, up, down." Repeat this twice, then switch to the other side by continuing the same upper body movements while using the opposite knee.

Combine these basic popping and locking moves to create your own routine. Use the same style to create your own dance move, too. Remember to flex and relax your muscles with each of the movements for that popping feel. Think of every move on a frame-by-frame basis.


  • "Pop" and "lock" are considered two completely separate dances. Some hip-hop dancers will argue that the terms "pop and lock" or "popping and locking" are improper since each style has its own origination.
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