Popping belongs to funky dance styles, which originated in California in 1970. It is a unique dance style based on the technique of quickly contracting and relaxing muscles to cause a jerk in the dancer's body. Popping can be concentrated to specific body parts, creating thus several variants of movements which can vary in explosiveness. Jerky movements are performed at regular intervals, causing the dance to appear very rhythmic in nature. A common technique of transitioning between poses is an abrupt halt of movement.

Poses in popping make heavy use of mime style and several facial expressions. Movements and techniques used in popping are generally focused on sharp contrasts, being either robotic and rigid or very loose and flowing.

Popping is almost always performed standing up, except in rare cases when the dancer goes down on their knees or even lies down for a short while. Though currently included in the hip hop culture and commonly danced to hip hop music, this specific dance style was originally danced to funk music.