The Philly Bop is a Black social dance that is the official dance of Philadelphia, PA. The installation will explore this dance through an autoethnographic lens using photography, video, and audio interviews highlighting members of the dance community who carry on the legacy of the Philly Bop.

The dance emerged in the 1950s alongside American Bandstand, the dance and live music television series filmed on location in West Philadelphia. Originally known as Bandstand, the show did not allow Black dancers to attend the live tapings at the height of the show’s popularity, resulting in the emergence of a modified version of the dance in Black communities.

The Philly Bop’s creation at this historical moment is carried forward to this day by many of those pioneering Black dancers and their descendants. Over the course of one year, I documented myself learning the Philly Bop, as well as the dance being performed within cabarets in North Philadelphia, These venues have remained a viable space for early Black dancers, who are now elders, and the project considers how this dance could be reintroduced to a larger community to ensure it does not disappear.


*This project was supported through the Magnum Foundation Fund in 2018

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