Photo of Shira



PHOTO CREDIT: Above photo by John Rickman Photography, San Jose, California.

Belly Dance Drum Solo Tips:

Pop, Drop, & Lock Technique

By Saqra

Table of Contents




Pops, locks, and drops manifest differently in traditional belly dance than they do in hiphop or most tribal fusion styles. Pops, locks, and drops in traditional belly dance can be thought of as simply muscle-driven accents.


  • Lock. A lock is a visual "click." To execute a lock muscles are contracted on the accent count and held.
  • Pop. A pop is a visual "tap." This is a two phase motion that is perceived to be one motion on the accent because of the speed of execution. Either the muscles are contracted and immediately released, or released and immediately contracted.
  • Drop. "Ahh" - A drop is a release on the accent count. Muscles are tensed in anticipation of the drop, then the movement is released.

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.




The Pitfalls

Many traditionalists detest these sharp accents and feel they do not belong in the dance form. Personally, I think those traditionalists are seeing several factors that make the accents look extra bad:

  1. Dancers overdancing the music by doing accents where there really are none in the music
  2. Dancers overdoing the accents that actually are there by slamming the heck out of any accent they hear even if the music does not really contain hard accents
  3. Dancers doing accents that appear random and are too hard for the audience to follow

Unfortunately, many dancers do not have the control to get truly varying levels of pops, locks and drops. Or, maybe they don't understand there is such a concept. They have one strength: KAPOW!

PHOTO CREDIT: Photo by Michael Baxter, Santa Clara, California.

There is an actual neuro-linguistic programming problem with the very words "Pop", "Lock", and "Drop". The actual words basically tell you subliminally to hit that accent as hard as you can. So the first thing to do is get rid of those subliminals. When you think "Lock", think "Click." When you think "Pop", think "Tap." When you think "Drop", think "Ahh."

There is not one strength a sharp movement should be executed.

These guidelines can help:

  • If the music has sharp sounds then it is calling for sharp movements.
  • If the sharp sounds are strong then the movement should be sharp and strong.
  • If the sharp sounds are just medium in strength then the movement should be medium strength and sharp.
  • If the sharp sounds are not particularly emphasized then the movement should simply be crisp.

Add to this the don't-do-anything-over-70%-of-your-ability rule I explained in one of my other tips and you have got a recipe that says you must never hit something really, really hard or it is gonna look bad.




The Technique

Locks, pops & drops can occur all over your body, any place you have at least two sets of muscles that can work in opposition. Hips, belly, rib cage, shoulders, arms, legs, back: wherever you have muscles that can work in opposition. It isn't just moving your skeleton somewhere, it is about contracting or releasing muscle in relation to musical counts/accents.

Pops, locks and drops should actually be SMALLER (but crisper) than a corresponding skeletal movement.

Example: Chest down vs chest drop vs chest lock down.

  • Chest down — a large clear lowering of the breasts.
  • Chest drop — try pressing down your shoulders hard and then sharply letting go of the tension on the count (there is more to it than that, but I'm trying to simplify).
  • Chest lock down — sharply press your shoulders down and slightly forward on the count. You should feel your pecs/chest muscles also contract.

Why would you want a smaller motion? I also said crisper. Cleaner. And if you used your "glowing green goo" (different tip) to lead the eye then you don't have to make them look for the accent and find it. You've already properly led the eye where you wanted.

Okay.... this post is getting too long. I'll hit different kinds of execution & combos in future posts. In the meantime....

  • There are different strengths of accent in music.
  • The dancer should not be hitting harder than the music.
  • The dancer should only dance to things actually IN the music.
  • You can produce a movement using primarily muscle OR skeleton.
  • Leading the eye where you want it to go makes it so you don't have to overdance (make movements too big or too hard).

Once again... my opinions.... my terminology... your mileage still may vary.




Related Articles

  • Drum Solo Accent Chains. How to build sequences of accents that make sense together, by Saqra.
  • Holding Accents. Advice on what to do next after making an accent, by Saqra.
  • The 70% Rule. How to use restraint to keep your audience captivated, by Saqra.



Copyright Notice

This entire web site is copyrighted. All rights reserved.

All articles, images, forms, scripts, directories, and product reviews on this web site are the property of Shira unless a different author/artist is identified. Material from this web site may not be posted on any other web site unless permission is first obtained from Shira.

Academic papers for school purposes may use information from this site only if the paper properly identifies the original article on using appropriate citations (footnotes, end notes, etc.) and bibliography. Consult your instructor for instructions on how to do this.

If you wish to translate articles from into a language other than English, Shira will be happy to post your translation here on along with a note identifying you as the translator. This could include your photo and biography if you want it to. Contact Shira for more information. You may not post translations of Shira's articles on anybody else's web site, not even your own.

If you are a teacher, performer, or student of Middle Eastern dance, you may link directly to any page on this web site from either your blog or your own web site without first obtaining Shira's permission. Click here for link buttons and other information on how to link.



Explore more belly dance info:

Top >
Belly Dancing >
Index to the Belly Dance Advice Section >
How to Belly Dance


Share this page!

On Facebook


 Top > Belly Dancing > Index to the Belly Dance Advice Section > How to Belly Dance

| Contact Shira | Links | Search this Site |