Camel Walk and Patty Duke
By Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro
Many of the hip-hop steps we teach come out of popular dances. The camel walk and Patty Duke, for example, are based on 1970s dances that influenced the social aspect of hip-hop’s development. Since these steps started as party dances, have students face each other and interact to get into the right spirit.
The camel walk’s posture is straight-legged with chest pitched slightly forward, to mimic the torso and hind legs of a four-legged animal walking. (Watch videos of James Brown; he often performed this step.) Standing on the left leg, pop the right knee and heel and slide the foot forward. Now switch—drop the right heel to step, and pop the left heel to slide the foot forward. Repeat, traveling forward in small sliding steps. Hips can shift a little side to side but should stay in line with the legs; knees bend only enough for the feet to slide forward.
Try different upper-body grooves, for example shifting side to side with hands raised. Vary the rhythm of the feet: try stepping on whole beats or speeding up on “and” counts.
There are a few versions of the Patty Duke; here’s one. Stand on two feet, shoulder-width apart, and start the groove, a body rock going backward. Bring one foot forward, leaving the weight on the back foot, to tap the floor on the accented beat. Return to two feet and rock, then tap with the other foot. Repeat.
The upper body mimics the lower. As the right foot comes forward, the right arm raises and the hand slaps the air (as if slapping someone’s face) on the same accent as the foot tap. When the left foot taps, the left hand slaps.
Philadelphia b-boy Anthony “Ynot” DeNaro is a member of the Rock Steady Crew and an MFA candidate at Arizona State University. He studied with Crazy Legs and Mr. Wiggles and travels the world teaching.