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The 1Up Crew Teaches the Art of Dance Battles

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Dancers gathered in a circle during an open lab at In The Groove Studios in Oakland.
Dancers gathered in a circle during an open lab at In The Groove Studios in Oakland.  (Pendarvis Harshaw)


Uptempo hip-hop tracks play through a bluetooth speaker as dancers gather in a cipher, each taking their turn to step into the center ring and showcase their moves. There’s elements of pop-locking and strutting, as well as ballroom and some salsa. And because we’re in the Bay, there’s plenty of turf dancing.

You can find this scene every Wednesday night in downtown Oakland, at In The Groove Studios, where the free open lab dance session is hosted by the 1Up Crew.

While founding member of the crew, Tarik Rollerson, is partial to the Los Angeles style of krumping, he first developed his love of dance in Oakland.

Rollerson is a third generation dancer from the Town, who combines the West African dance lessons his parents and grandparents taught him with other styles of dance he’s learned from his community. He uses it all to tell stories on the dance floor.

And inside the weekly labs, he and the 1Up Crew share techniques and tips on freestyling or choreographed group routines.

Ahead of an upcoming battle, where the jackpot is a cold two-thousand dollars, I stopped by In The Groove Studios on a Wednesday night to understand what it takes to win over a crowd and kill it during a dance battle.

Tarik Rollerson wears a black mask, a black and grey hat and a shirt that reads "Turfin" on it as he leads a dance lab session at In The Groove Studios.
Tarik Rollerson wears a black mask, a black and grey hat and a shirt that reads “Turfin” on it as he leads a dance lab session at In The Groove Studios. (Pendarvis Harshaw)

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