When the Beat Drops is the ground breaking documentary that opens the doors on the dance style of bucking. The film has been buzzing among the various film festivals. If you are sad because you haven’t had the chance to see the film, don’t worry. When the Beat Drops is screening at Outfest LA 2018 this Thursday, July 19th at the Ford Amiptheater. Get your tickets today so you don’t have to miss your opportunity to see the film.
If you want more information about When the Beat Drops or to know more about bucking, check out our exclusive interview with Tony Davis, the founder and overseer of the Phi Phi dance team.
James St. James: Tell us, what is bucking?
Tony Davis: Bucking derives from the dancing team of Jackson State University, an HBCU. It’s a dance style where it’s similar to the elegance of a horse prancing and the thrusting of the pelvis and hips.
JSJ: How did you get into dance?
TD: I went to an HBCU in Atlanta, Morris Brown College. A lot of the dances are similar but they have different styles. Everyone doesn’t buck but everyone dances. In HBCU dancing it’s a melting pot of jazz and other types of dance. My school’s dance is more technical, they like to do turns and leaps – Jackson State does it too just as a much harder hitting dance style.
I studied at Barbara Sullivan School of Dance. Dancing came naturally to me. In elementary school I had a cousin who was starting in ballet and my uncle suggested I do jazz. My grandma was telling everyone that I was taking ballet and I said “I was taking jazz and then I eventually quit.” I have a natural skill to pick up on dance moves. Most people that do it [bucking] they have no dance background. For people with a dance background it’s hard for them to pick up the style of dance.
JSJ: How did you start working with Jamal?
TD: Jamal came to a pride in Atlanta in the 90s. In the 90s we had the club, Trench Atlanta and he saw us there dancing and he watched us dance all night and he had the idea of telling the story of this underground dance style. Bucking has been around since 75/76 from what I know.
JSJ: How has the bucking world changed over your time in it?
TD: My team is the first organized team – multiple people coming together to perform, wearing uniforms and choreographing routines. Early 90s is when that started with organized teams. The counts are longer now than when I started in the 90s, there are more risque counts, a lot more acrobats, more styles added to it. We make counts to hip hop music, house music and R&B. The amount of teams have grown. We were the only team in Atlanta when I started, now there are 6-7 teams out of Atlanta now. Each city has multiple teams now.
JSJ: What reactions have you seen in the dance community since the film premiered?
TD: Oh, Frameline was amazing! From the time I flew in to the three days I was there. They took care of me. I really enjoyed it. The crowd embraced us. The Castro Theater holds 1400 people and it was sold out. It was phenomenal, we got multiple standing ovations. They are some of the most professional people and the most humble people. It was great from the beginning to the end.
JSJ: What were the highs and lows of making the documentary?
TD: Highs were seeing it all come together. Seeing the work of Jamal and Jordan after saying what they wanted to do. I had other offers from reality shows/networks, I felt that they wanted to make a mockery of it. I met with Jamal and he seemed very sincere to what he was speaking upon. One of the downs was seeing if it was going to be worth putting out there. We rebelled on somethings because we didn’t know why it was needed.
Check out the trailer for the film below!