Electronic Music Dance Culture

Historical Background of Liquid

Definition of Liquid Dancing

Using movement, predominantly in the hands, arms and upper torso to create an illusion emulating the state of Liquid or “flow” with the ability to change shape, direction and volume as the dancer sees fit.

History

The true origins of the dance that has become known as “liquid” are slightly elusive. Depending on whom you talk to you will get multiple answers. The information contained in this history is based on what has been learned by speaking with individuals who have seen Liquid propagate across the United states at various points in history.

There are many theories about what exactly started Liquid dancing and where. What seems to be evident at least is that the dance is indigenous to the rave culture. Liquid has roots and influences, at least in its primordial state, right around the first raves recorded in the United States in the early 90’s. What is also evident is that even with the many researched influences and seemingly fluid starting points geographically, just like any other dance, philosophy, fashion or trend they are all the direct products of culture. Liquid is a child of rave culture and had it not existed, no other external influence would have had an opportunity to create, mold, develop or influence the style as we understand it today.

Influences

Glow sticks:

Glowsticks were first introduced into the rave scene in the early 90’s at Club Palladium in NYC where hip hop, house and reggae were the typical genres played . It is reported that as the night progressed, loud sirens would sound off and DJs and event staff would hurl light sticks into the crowd. Soon people would end up buying the glowsticks at military supply stores and bring them to the parties. The use of glowsticks then spread into night clubs like the Limelight where electronic music was the main genre played. This act spawned the use of glow sticks at raves where attendees picked them up and held one in each hand. This lead to waving them around in order to follow the traces one left behind the other. This act in itself emulates the foundational principle of “flow in Liquid where there is a lead and a follower.

The dance style “Waving”:

The style “waving” has certainly had its influences on Liquid dancing. There is a major point of contention between people who practice liquid and funk stylists and has been highly debated. Some funk stylists contend that liquid is a continuation of waving. Whereas liquid dancers say it is a dance indigenous to the electronic music culture that possesses similar characteristics of waving with a unique blend of many other elements.

Maglites:

Holding the same birthplace as Digitz at the Tunnel Night Club, the use of Maglites was an art performed by unscrewing the tops of the bulb casing from the flashlight to expose the bulbs. Typically the single AAA and double AA mag lights were used. The person using the Maglite could also press on the light fixture at the edge of the bulb to turn the circuit on and off. Maglite trails were usually rather large and had helical properties. By turning on and off the lights one could create different light effects and traces on their body.

Photons:

Another common light source used were photons. Photons are LED light sources usually powered by a circular battery. Early types of these lights were hand made by taking the led and taping the nodes to the battery. More sophisticated versions were factory made and had easy on and off switches to manipulate the light patterns. A strong practitioner of this style would use multiple photons in each hand, each with a different color and through the manipulation of timing and synchronization they would give the appearance of the lights being tossed to a partner or traveling and out of the body and other.

White Gloves:

Another common trend at raves was wearing white gloves which would glow under black lights. Some of the earliest video available provides evidence of ravers moving their hands similar to voguing as they were picking up on the trails from the gloves. LPC visited a group of dancers in California called the TranceFormers. This group took the concept of gloves rather far in the development of liquid. Relying on the black lights, they utilized advanced liquid techniques to develop trails and illusions. Canada was also using white gloves to perform their liquid style as well.

Hands:

As the development of Liquid began to advance, many people started putting lights down and experimenting with using the body as the source of illusion. The hands were integral in this process as the connection between the two hands was a pivotal point in maintaining Liquid flow.

Music:

The “flow” or style in which liquid is performed, like all dances, is dictated by the music one is dancing to. In rave culture this typically entailed 4/4 beats and breaks at higher BPMs than most genres. Today, electronic dance music now encompasses a plethora of genres and other beat structures that Liquid and Digitz practitioners must learn to adapt to.

Additional Lights & Props:

Aside from the more notable use of glowsticks, dancers in New York, primarily the Liquid Lights Crew, (LLC) was developing many different apparatus to further enhance the illusions of liquid such as Jedi Lights, big colorful pogs with flash lights in them. They relied on the trails that the lights would give, much like that of glowsticks.

Significant Contributions

Liquid Pop Eric: 

In early 1999 Liquid Pop Eric was filmed dancing in front of an arcade machine at a club in Philadelphia. When this video was released via early file share programs such as Kazaa and Napster, it became one of the most highly downloaded videos related to Liquid dance. This video provided Liquid with world wide exposure and is now the most recognizable video on the internet for Liquid.

Eric is also the founder of Liquid Pop Collective, a crew most noted for pioneering and defining the Liquid and Digitz dances and is one of the earlies Liquid dancers known.

Tiny Love:

Tiny Love has made significant contributions in both Liquid and Digitz dances. He is one of the oldest known Liquid practitioners witnessing the birth of rave culture in the United States. Tiny is recognized as an originator in perfomring Liquid with glowsticks and other light sources. He continues to advance and pioneer the dance to this day.

Lucas 'Relic' Johnson & Elliot 'Prime' Armstrong:

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. Though Folds is not a direct technique of Digitz it was soon incorporated and used in both Liquid and Digitz 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.

LiquidPop Collective:

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. 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.

Liquid Lights Crew / Vibe Elements:

Liquid Lights Crew (LLC) was a NYC based crew who began collectively experimenting with liquid as early as 1993. Members such as Tiny Love were also actively engaged in the early stages of rave culture in the United States.

Additional members included Lio, Sorin, Make, Yoshy, Dany, Billy, Radu

LLC was most notable for using light props such as glowsticks, flashlights and light sabers to produce trails for liquid. Many of the early “figure 8” foundations for liquid was also produced by this group.

LLC is one of the first rave based crews to perform on stages at parties. Their first being at “4 You” in Asbury Park, NJ.

Vibe Elements, a later extension of Liquid Lights Crew began around 2000. This crew continued to push the boundaries of Liquid dancing in NYC. Throughout the summers on Friday evenings, VE would usually set up at Union Square in NYC and bring together crews from across the city to dance and perform in front of large crowds.

Fu Manchu

Fu Manchu has been doing liquid since 1994 and was among the first to move away from using props such as glow sticks to instead focus on just utilizing the human body. Fu later went on to become a founding member of the Liquid Pop Collective and played a major role in the development of the liquid dance 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.

Floasis.Net

Knowing how large a role the internet had played in keeping the Liquid Dance community connected and evolving throughout the term of Reflective.net, HgItch and Kai formed a vision of the future of the community over the course of several road trips around the continental US circa 2004. This vision consisted of instructional, inspirational and historical media combined with the workhorse of a forum to be a resource that would inspire and instruct a new generation of Liquid Dancers. This resource eventually became Floasis.Net and was launched in 2007 as a hub to connect Liquid Dancers around the world with emphasis on open sharing of knowledge in a united community of peers unsegregated by crew affiliation.

Over the course of the next 6 years, the community was rebuilt through word of mouth promotion and search engine optimization. This period gave birth to the Liquid and Digits wikipedia, the only annual Liquid Dance battle at the time of this writing (Confluence) and the first ever Liquid Dance Conference. F.N was also the primary coordination resource for national community gatherings at events like DEMF, Starscape and Underground Sound. These meetups served as a marker each year, acting as the snapshot for what Liquid Dance had achieved in the previous year and to set the bar for where it would soon go. Most of all, Floasis.Net was a welcome center for the next generation of upcoming Liquid Dancers.

As of 2012, Floasis.Net is unofficially retired as a web resource for Liquid Dance.