King of Krump

Tommy 'The Clown' Johnson brings the manic style of West Coast street dancing to the Stratmore

October 04, 2006|By Rashod D. Ollison | Rashod D. Ollison,Sun Pop Music Critic

As he danced on street corners and at kiddie parties throughout South Central Los Angeles outfitted in a Crayola-yellow jumpsuit and a mammoth rainbow Afro wig, his face painted white and adorned with crude drawings of red balloons, Tommy Johnson had no idea he was starting a "movement."

Soon, his dance style, a kinetic fusion of pop-locking and buffoonish antics he called "clowning," was picked up by the neighborhood kids. They sexualized it, sped up the gyrations, made the face paint more geometric and called the style "krumping." This hip-hop subculture, born 15 years ago, would for some become an alternative to the crime and gang-banging troubling South Central L.A.

If You Go Tommy the Clown and the Hip-Hop Clowns: Krumping! will perform at 8 p.m. Saturday at Music Center at Strathmore Hall, 5301 Tuckerman Lane, North Bethesda. Call 301-581-5100 or visit

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