The Lockers: 1970s Soul Train Dancers Who Made Us Pop, Lock And Electric Boogaloo

the lockers 1


In 1973, Toni Basil and Don “Campbellock” Campbell created The Lockers, pioneers of street dance. And they were fantastic.

Life for the dancers can be traced back to 1971, when Soul Train presenter Don Cornelius took his rival to Dick Clark’s American Bandstand from his native Chicago to LA.


"... and you can bet your last money, it's all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I'm Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!"

“… and you can bet your last money, it’s all gonna be a stone gas, honey! I’m Don Cornelius, and as always in parting, we wish you love, peace and soul!”


Campbell and Fred Berry became regular dancers on screen. Off-screen they featured in magazines like Soul and Right On!.  Campbell knew his locking dance style, aka The Campbellock, was a hit. As Emmett George Price tells it in Hip Hop Culture, Campbell and Berry asked Cornelius to be paid the sum of $50 per episode. Cornelius responded by kicking Campbell and Berry off the show.

But Campbell know his value. And in 1973, The Cambleock Dancers were born. He would be joined by: Toni Basil, the aforesaid Fred ‘Mr. Penguin’ Berry a.k.a. Rerun, Leo ‘Fluky Luke’ Williamson, Greg ‘ Campbellock Jr.’ Pope, Bill ‘Slim The Robot’ Williams, Adolpho ‘Shabba Doo’ Quinones

Basil was already a known talent, having choreographed the 1973 movie American Graffiti and featured in Easy Rider (1969), in which she played Mary, a prostitute off her face on LSD:



Now known as The Lockers, the troupe danced on Saturday Night Live, the Dick Van Dyke Show, The Carol Burnett Show, and The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson.

Inevitably, the ended up back on Soul Train. And this time they were paid:




The Lockers

Esquire magazine, December 1974


In 1974, the Playboy bunnies shared the stage with a very cool pink rabbit:



With fame came money. The group schilled for Schlitz beer:



In mid 1976, Basil and Campbell left the group. But that wasn’t the end of the gang’s success.

Berry starred as Rerun in the TV sitcom What’s Happening (1976-1979).



Basil went on to have a mega-hit with Hey Mickey:



As cheerleading grew in popularity, all the cool kids at the school disco wanted to dance the electric boogaloo. They’d seen how:



Orginial locker Adolfo G. Quinones (Shabba-Doo) appeared in the 80s movies Breakin’, and the tongue-twisting Breakin’ 2 Electric Boogaloo. Gun crime had not yet caught on in the US – beefs were settled by al fresco dancing in sweatbands.




Breakin’ 2:



In the 1980s, everyone was Locking:



1984 and I just had to share. First, we have Break Dancin’ For Fun and Fitness (Atlantic 80187-1) Break Dancing 1Break Dancing 2Break Dancing 3Break Dancing 4 It’s a gatefold talk-over instructional album that “teaches” people how to break dance, and it has photos of all the moves to back it up. There’s even a primer about learning how to speak the lingo. It features members of the Big Apple Breakers, the Furious Rockers and there to “explain it all” is Rodanne “Rosey Rose” Hoare, “Superstar Choreographer of New York’s famed Roxy Disco.” It’s not exactly the most thrilling record I’ve ever heard – maybe best described as “of its time.” I can only imagine what one of Rosey’s classes in 1984 might have looked like. (Headbands and leg warmers, anyone?) Second, we have Breakdance (K-Tel NU3360) which promised the “Best Music for Breakdancing,” and invited any and all to “Learn to Moonwalk, Electric Boogie, Footwork, Headspin & Top-Rock.” It is a far hipper album. Side one has some great music on it (incl. “Rockit,” and “Wheels of Steel”) while the B-side – the one with all the instruction – is artfully done and listenable on its own. There’s even a warning to parents and the physically infirm, as well as contact information for the New York City Breakers Fan Club (send c/o Hip Hop International, Inc).

1984 (via)


Nowadays street dance is a mainstay of Saturday night telly and after-school clubs.