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Dancers Compete in San Francisco Turf Dancing Tournament

Turf dancing, a Bay Area style with roots in 1990s Oakland, is enjoying a resurgence and gaining international attention for its creative techniques expressing cultural and personal attitudes.

And on Saturday, 16 Turfers battled it out at San Francisco’s Bayview Opera House in the Unknown Chambers dance tournament. Each was already a finalist, now battling it out for both the prize money and the bragging rights.

The night’s top prize: $2,000. But the event’s promotor said the tournament was about building community more than competing for cash.

“The whole purpose of Unknown Chambers is to capture San Francisco culture,” said AJ “Dopey Fresh” Gardner, a promoter and dancer. “Because you barely see it, so we try to give you a dose of that.”

Gardner grew up in San Francisco and, for more than a decade, has incorporated the Oakland dance form into a Bay Area dance that’s catching on globally.

“It’s a mixture of many styles. It has capoeira. You also have gliding, pop-locking,” said Gardner. “But it’s like a big blend, and it has to be smooth.”

Some Turfers earn a living dancing on BART trains or along the Embarcadero, while others have been featured on National Advertisements.

And it’s going global: recently, a group of the Bay Area’s best Turfers were invited to France. They say there’s a lot of interest in their dance form there.

“At first, it was definitely a shock for them, but they respect it. They understand it and it’s one of those things where they have to be consistent with it,” said Gardner.

Gardner also teaches Turf dancing and has open lessons, free of charge, for anyone who wants to learn it on Wednesday nights at the Bayview Opera House from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Source: NBC Bay Area