Electronic Music Dance Culture

Historical Background of Digitz

Origin of the Dance

Tunnel Night ClubDigitz’ (digits) origins began circa 1997 , at the Tunnel Night Club, right as the NYC club and party scenes began their steady decline into obscurity. At the time, several major clubs existed providing an interconnected web of budding electronic music culture and hedonistic lifestyles, drawing in party kids and clubbers living within the city and across neighboring states and suburbs. These clubs included the Tunnel, Twilo, Limelight, Sound Factory and Vinyl, Roxy

Though many party kids traversed back and forth between the main clubs in NYC, and frequented parties and raves in and out-of-state, the Tunnel was most certainly a central nerve point for a group of kids who made the club home.

Inside the city block sized club, overshadowed by giant disco-balls and an enormous winged Greek god like statue were a set of stairs that led up to various rooms on the second floor. Directly to the right was the Mezzanine, home base for what was a tight-nit set of party kids. 

Mixed within this melting pot of races, genders, cross-genders and classes was a young man by the name of Mario, experimenting with a new concept of finger manipulation and synchronization that would soon be coined Digitz.

The Mezzanine: A Sub-Culture within a Sub-Culture

Tunnel Night Club Floor Plan

Click to Downlaod Image

Known as the “Mezzanine” room, this small section of the Tunnel, on the second floor of the club, peered over the main dance floor hall and possessed all of the strategic vantage points a party kid could want. On Saturday nights this room succeeded from the rest of the club with a single, red valor theatre rope, latched to opposing brass stands.

By all standards of the club, this was not a VIP room, nor was it supposed to be cordoned off. But to anyone in the club trying to enter the room, you were greeted with “Who do you know?” The room lacked guidos, muscle heads, bouncers and thieves. In a way, the rope was there to keep out the VIP. The Mezzanine was a small tear of cloth from the larger underground party and rave culture. It was in this spot that a style of Liquid was learned using mag lights and glowsticks and Digitz (digits) began its fledgling adventure beyond the steamy walls of the NYC nightlife.

Origin of the Name

The name Digitz was coined by Yenal, a fellow party kid and friend of Mario. He originally stated that his fingers looked like a set of “mechanical digits.” The term “Digits” stuck and eventually was branded as “Digitz” when the dance crew Liquid Pop Collective began organizing the vocabulary of the style on paper, subsequently releasing a video documenting the terminology and history in 2001.

Early Evolution & Development

At first, Mario and a dance friend of his, Milo, were essentially the only ones doing Digitz (digits). This was an era without cell phone cameras, you tube and other social networks a like. Information traveled at the speed of personal interaction.

Between 1998–2000 however, those hanging out in the Mezzanine soon began imitating and practicing the style. Approximately 5-10 individuals ended up standing out progressing the style as a whole. This included the following people: Don (aka Dj Dali), Rich (aka Blue), Sue, Yenal, Mark, Lawrence, Joe (aka Digital, LPC) and Jared (aka Code Red, LPC).

Unfortunately, by 2001 the Tunnel night club closed down and many of the other clubs and parties in the city declined due to New York mayor Rudy Giuliani's quality-of-life campaign.

Migration out of NYC to Philadelphia

In early 2000 the NYC club scene started to lose significant momentum. An original student of Mario and Joe (Digital), Code Red soon found himself linking up with a group of like minded dancers in the southern New Jersey and Philadelphia region. By 2001 the group of friends became the dance crew known as Liquid Pop Collective (LPC).

As the members began trading dance concepts around Liquid; a style each member had previous experience with, Code Red also began teaching the crew the foundations of Digitz (digits).

Club Motion, Philadelphia

Club Motion, Philadelphia

Shortly after, LPC linked up with Reflective Multi Media, a group of artists within the electronic music scene. LPC held a residency at Motion Night Club in Philadelphia, where they soon began influencing the dance scene in the City. They also pushed the dances further by traveling to out of town and out of state parties.

Within a year, the crew saw a significant increase in party kids attempting to perform Digitz (digits) and Liquid, most notably at Motion Night Club.

In order to preserve the style and help support its growth, LPC began organizing and defining the movements and theories of the dance through the development of a universal vocabulary for practitioners to learn form.

This initiative was done in concert with the production of their instruction video, “LPC Liquid & Digitz: Volume 1."

Significant Contributions

Code Red: Vocabulary Development & Initial Push of Digitz beyond its Point of Origin

Jared aka “Code Red” or “Red” first entered the club scene in 1998. Shortly after he was befriended by a group of kids at the Tunnel Night Club in NYC who practiced Liquid dancing using maglight flashlights and glowsticks. They also practiced the style known as Digitz (digits). Jared was eventually introduced to Mario who along with a few other members taught him the technique.

Code Red is attributed with developing the vocabulary of the foundation techniques used in Digitz (digits) today. He is also responsible for bringing the style out of NYC, teaching the style to LPC who in turn were able to afford the style the ability to be seen nationally and internationally.

Liquid Pop Collective (LPC)

By late 2001, Liquid Pop Collective was gaining attention as a reputable voice in electronic music dance culture. In mid 2001 the crew began the planning stages of their video, creating vocabulary and foundation principles to both Liquid and Digitz (digits). In September of 2001, the crew filmed the major components of the video, and with the support and production of Ricardo Rivera (VJ Kaboom/KlipTV), began selling the video by early 2002. 

Within just a few months, LPC sold over 2,000 copies reaching every continent except Antarctica. The video helped push the dances globally causing a strong following of practitioners by the end of 2002.

The video has since been published, in parts, on youtube garnering well over 1 million hits in combined views.

Tiny Love: Finger Tutting/Boxes & Finger Connect

Tiny Love has made significant contributions in both Liquid and Digitz dances. He is most noted for pioneering the styles of finger boxes and finger tutting and inventing the Digital Character style and Face Masks style. This style is based on various influences from Mr. Wiggles of Rock Steady Crew, Code Red from LPC, mudra hand poses and martial arts. Digital Characters uses digitz (digits) to create shapes that mimic patterns, animal faces and other shapes. Face Masks uses Digitz (digits) to create shapes around the face to give alien appearances to the performer. Tiny Love continues to push the boundaries of both Liquid and Digitz to this day.

Lucas “Relic” Johnson & Elliot "Prime" Armstrong: Folds

Prior to being introduced to the Digitz style, Relic was living in Houston, TX. A close friend of his, Elliott (aka Prime) and Relic were introduced to the NYC style of Liquid circa 1997 when a friend of theirs, Francis, returned home after seeing the dance performed in clubs. The style he showed had large, broad movements characteristic of the Liquid in NYC during that time.

Soon after, Prime began experimenting with the dance by condensing the Liquid in size and incorporating the fingers. This ultimately gave way to Folds, a now highly used technique in Liquid and Digitz (digits). Though Folds is not a direct technique of Digitz (digits) it was soon incorporated and used in both Liquid and Digitz (digits) when Relic began showing LPC after joining in 2002. The Fold style and condensed version of Liquid influenced both dance styles collectively and is certainly a prevalent factor in pushing the boundaries of both dances.

D-Strange: Finger tutting/boxing

D-Strange is attributed with inventing various styles of finger boxing/tutting. As a member of LPC he began using tutting and boxing techniques and applying them to Digitz concepts. He also began experimenting outside of the 90 degree confines of tutting and box shapes by using triangles as a main source of shape development. D-Strange was the originator of the now popularized “Finger Tutting” style.

Sami “Ben Grimm” Diament & Phil “Frequency” Thorne

Entering the scene in 1999 - 2000, Both were members of the Liquid Pop Collective. Ben Grimm was instrumental in the development of the digitz style alongside Code Red. Frequency is best known for his use of the technique known as “rails” and also for integrating “waving” into his liquid style.

Shifted Shapes: Bridging coasts

In 2002 Shifted Shapes visited Homeland , a recurring dance event in Los Angeles, California where he introduced the East Coast style of finger boxing and tutting to the west coast. Shifted Shapes used the concept of Fixed Point Mime Technique within Finger Boxing/Tutting re-branding it is Fixed Line.

Digitz crosses dance and artistic platforms

Hip Hop and Funk Scene:

During the first decade, Digitz (digits) remained primarily in the electronic music scene and was typically seen as a set of tricks by other dance cultures. As the style progressed and the notoriety of the dance grew, elements of Digitz (digits) were soon appearing in dance styles other than that within electronic music.

The concept of Finger Tutting/boxing and different Digitz elements can now be seen prevalently performed within the Popping/Funk Dance/Flexing communities.

TV Pop Culture

The use of Digitz (digits) and Finger Tutting has made appearances in pop culture mediums such as commercials, movies and tv shows.

  • Samsung Commercial (2011)
  • Step Up
  • Americas Next Best Dance Crew
  • So You Think You Can Dance

Gloving

Modern parties and raves now see a trend of finger dance being performed called gloving. This style uses Digitz (digits) conepts and techniques and applies the use of white gloves with lights at the tips of each finger.