Aggressive Dance, Positive Release

image773005x.jpg
tommy the clown, krump, krumping, clown
CBS

You probably have never heard of America's hottest new dance craze. CBS News Correspondent Bill Whitaker reports that it isn't one you can learn from Arthur Murray.

It's called krumping, or clown dancing.

"When you krump dance, you're expressing the way you feel," says Lawrence Gojit, aka Solow. "Instead of saying it in a sentence, you say it in repeated body movements."

It's winning the unlikeliest converts. Kyle Jones is a ballet student by day — and a krumper by night.

"In ballet everything is like tight and in krumping everything is just loose," said Jones.

Loose, raw, aggressive, krumping burst from the hard streets of south L.A. — the ignition point of the L.A. riots.

And, this being L.A., there's now a movie called "Rize."

They call it a movement. Dancers of all ages and colors square off and face down competitors in so-called "battle zones."

"I practice every day and it keeps me off the streets," says Solow.

Solow says krumping is non-violent combat. While the community is far from violence free, krumping has set some of these kids free.

"Everybody has bad days. Krump dancing is just a way to let go of that negative energy," Solow said.

Believe it or not, it was all started by a clown — Tommy Johnson, aka Tommy the Clown.

The former drug dealer knew there had to be an alternative to violent gangs, so he put on makeup, a wig and started clown dancing — a kind of speeded up break-dancing — at birthday parties.

Since 1992, it's morphed into the more assertive krumping — and spawned a phenomenon.

"We don't fight no more. You got a problem with me? We get on the dance floor and handle it," said Johnson. "When it's over, we shake hands."

And as Solow told Whitaker, the dance is a positive.

"I thank God every day. He's giving me a chance everyday to express myself in a positive way," he said

So America, when your kids start punching the air, relax — it's a good thing.

  • Stephen Smith

    Stephen Smith is a senior editor for CBSNews.com