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June 30, 2005

Slang of the Week: krump (noun/verb)
an athletic, aggressive street dance characterized by wild, seizure-like movements

When Janet started krumping at her conservative cousin’s wedding reception, her aunt thought she was ill and called an ambulance.

Celebrity quote:
“I feel like this whole krump movement is going to change the way women are depicted in videos as well because soon as he saw that, his first thing on tour—Do you know what we wear? We wear baggy Dickies and Chucks* and we dress like boys. And I like that because I feel comfortable because I don't have to show my body.”
-Krump dancer Miss Prissy, now on tour with rapper the Game

Krumping originated in South Central Los Angeles with a clown named Thomas Johnson. Tommy the Clown, as he was known, invented a crazy dance to entertain children at birthday parties back in 1992, and it caught on as a trend with teenagers. This dance was called clowning, and dancers with painted faces incorporated mime movements with a style similar to break dancing.

While clowning is still performed, the newer krumping is a darker and more aggressive form of the dance. In the spirit of New York City break dancing battles from the late 1970s, Johnson began organizing competitions for both styles and some of the top performers began to get recognition when they were chosen to appear in music videos, such as Missy Elliot’s I'm Really Hot.

This is quite different from the way break dancing was popularized. Nowadays, hip hop is so dominant it’s hard to imagine, but in the early eighties, MTV showed rock videos almost exclusively, so people didn’t see break dancing there. The network's first rap show, YO! MTV Raps didn’t air until 1988. Although PBS produced a break dancing documentary called Style Wars in 1982, most Americans got their first look in 1983 when break dancers doubled for Jennifer Beals in the hit movie Flashdance. If you’d like to see examples of krumping and clowning, take a look at the website for Rize, a new documentary about the dance (

*Dickies is a brand of clothing designed for heavy physical work. Chucks are Chuck Taylor basketball sneakers from Converse.

What’s new at Slang City?
“She's a woman from the block with the best of weave, but I won't stop till I'm pullin' out tracks, tracks,” raps Ludacris on Trick Daddy’s Sugar (Gimme Some). What does it mean? Check out our translation into Standard English. (Warning: This song contains adult themes.)