Anecdotes of Tyrone ‘the Bone’ Proctor, and the souls he touched through Waacking. Below are some of Tyrone Proctor’s favourite songs. Play to embody the energy he exuded and enjoy the same music he loved.
All Asia Waacking Festival 2018 Grand Finals in Bali, Indonesia Organized by: Etoile Dance Center Special showcase by Tyrone Proctor from USA Filmed by Richa...
If you don’t understand the music, you will never understand the dance.
— Tyrone ‘the Bone’ Proctor
I still reminisce on the balmy day we sat together at the corner of Central Park. Pristine blue skies with a touch of summer that was unbecoming of New York in May. Sno-cones in hand doused in cherry syrup, we set out to chat about everything and anything that entire afternoon and then it happened, a different kind of conversation. I came out to you with all my insecurities—in life and in dance—and you just held my hand and listened, like you always did.
Don’t let nobody take your joy away, because that’s who you are was the mantra he’d repeat to me when I was feeling down, somehow I really believed those spoken words. You always had a way with words, knew exactly how to truly make me believe that I was good enough for myself. That was your magic—your strong values, the kindness you showed and the empowerment you gave. You were and still are that paternal figure I never had in my life and it’s the memory of you that I want to keep alive, honor and share with the world.
Tyrone Proctor passed away on June 6th, 2020. The grevious news combined with the inopportune timing was a devastating blow to the community—on top of the pandemic, it denied many of us an opportunity to properly say goodbye to a man who was a father figure and friend to some, a leader and mentor to all in the community. If there was a positive, it would be to see that these circumstances have brought out a display in the resilience and care that has been fundamental to the very community he has built.
While there are many leaders who have helped push this movement, one of the biggest contributions came from Tyrone Proctor. He is widely regarded as a legend on Soul Train and also largely seen as responsible for leading the resurgence of Waacking; despite not being the one to initiate it. Originally hailing from Philadelphia, he moved out to become a dancer in Los Angeles a month after his nineteenth birthday before landing a regular gig on Soul Train. His first encounter with the dance form, known back then as “Punking”—a reclamation of the derogatory term for gay men—was at popular gay venues like Gino’s and Paradise Ballroom.
If you ever wanted to know what the magnetism behind Waacking is, you would receive a diverse range of responses from the dancers but I would say it is personal, empowering and unapologetic.
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Waacking is a dance form that spotlights two fundamental ideas—to become the visual expression of the music and to depict a story that is your own through music. Not to be confused with the widely known Voguing, despite the similar circumstances surrounding its conception. This art form was willed into existence in Los Angeles by the African American/Latinx LGBT population through the popular music at the time—disco. The pioneers of this dance came from all walks of life and their inspirations were the drag performers and the glamorous golden divas of the Hollywood screen. As the influences of this dance began to grow on mainstream media, the best of these dancers were even invited to perform with icons like Diana Ross, Jody Watley and national television shows like Soul Train and American Bandstand. However, as the AIDS epidemic began to ravage across the country, it didn’t only
carry away the pioneers but the memory of this art form with it.
From its humble beginnings in the LGBT nightclubs of Los Angeles to the world, Waacking can now be found all over the globe in all five continents with communities of varying sizes. Content can be found all over major social media platforms and dance competitions have seen participation numbers go up to 500 or more for the single category, with many focusing solely on the dance alone. All these are milestones in which we can be proud of—but the biggest undeniable impact Waacking has had is on its people and community.
I was always enamoured by Tyrone. I remember looking towards the dimly lit rouge-tinted stage and thinking he was in a caliber of his own. His presence, the way he drew you in and showed you the music completely fascinated me.
It wasn’t until the first time we properly spoke at an after party in Montreal that I began to hold a deep found appreciation for this man. It was a modest gathering and the tables were lined with coca cola and fried chicken—his favourite. He was surrounded by many of the elites in dance at the time; despite my timidness, he graciously offered to sit down to have a chat with me. I came to understand how people, including those who didn’t know enough English to know what he was saying, were always captivated by his incredibly honest and kind characteristics. He always took the time to notice people and made you feel uniquely special.
Over the years, I’ve been fortunate in being able to travel the world to witness his ability to transform his students through dance—including when we brought him to Australia with the help of my first mentor in Waacking, Karen Siufrom Dancekool in Sydney. As a teacher, he was the strictest yet most nurturing mentor a student could ask for. His contributions can be felt through those who have experienced his magic and shoulder his memory and teachings to this day—an act which can forever change the landscape of the dance scene all the way from Los Angeles to Adelaide.
His chosen children (Princess Lockeroo, King Aus and Raven Ninja) and Imperial House of Waacking family whom he cared greatly for, are now trailblazing their own legacies in the dance world—a testament to his accomplishment as a legend, a father and a mentor.
If we were to define the philosophy and influence of Waacking culture towards its community in a single word—it would be love.
This may seem like an outlook which should be normalised when we think of the performing arts; but it stems from a system of oppression in which LGBT African American/Latinx individuals were only able to find safety and acceptance in themselves within a space free of judgment and discrimination. This ideology of love in Waacking in particular comes in the form of acknowledgement that each person is unique, appreciation for their unique flair and an acceptance of self and others.
Perfection becomes an anomaly as it is counterintuitive in a community where each individual is to be celebrated and our differences have now become the fabric that binds us.
For Tyrone, this began his journey into the dance form, a legacy that he would carry of those who came before him. It allowed him to give birth to an entire generation of dancers from all corners of the world. With his leadership, entire communities based on his ideology of love and self acceptance have spread across the globe. It has ensured that the name Waacking is not going to be a mere trend. It is a way of life, love and self-expression.