To B-Boy Or Not To B-Boy
This is an article from the German hip-hop
mag "MZEE" (July/august '93) by Kenny "Ken Swift" Gabbert and Jorge "Fabel" Pabon of the Rock Steady Crew with assistance
from Richie "Crazy Legs" Colon and Steve "Mr. Wiggles". I know it is bad to take others work, but I think this
clement is so good that I just couldn't leave it....
As B-Boy and boogie-boy pioneers of this culture, we feel obligate to preserve and
maintain true historic understanding of terms and facts connected with hip-hop. From reading articles and hearing certain
rap records, it has become clear to us that the word B-Boy has come to be a catch-all term for a true Hip-Hop fan and
this is incorrect. The term B-Boy was introduced by the innovator of hip-hop culture, Kool DJ Herc, who was referring
to the brothers who anticipated the "break" part of a sing. These breaks are the same section of a record that DJs scratch
- very percussive, upbeat tempos on a tribal tip. The B-Boys response to these rhythms is a sudden outburst of specific
dance styles: top step movements and a series of fast floor moves that usually end in a freeze.
by younger members of gangs in the Bronx and Harlem back in the early '70s, B-Boying manifested a wild, roughneck urban spirit. Some
of the gangs responsible for this are The Black Spades, The Savage Nomads, The Savage Skulls, The Renegades of Harlem,
The Savage Samurais, The Young Lords, The Savage Kings and The Baby Kings. There were particular crews which were noted
as pioneers as well, such as The Nigga Twins, The Zulu Kings, The Seven Deadly Sinners, Shanghai Brothers, The Bronx
Boys, Rockwell Association, Starchild La Rock, Rock Steady Crew and the Crazy Commanders.
The same intensity captured in the lifestyle
and dress codes of these crews was also projected through their B-Boying. Many styles and moves seemed threatening to
those who watched, and there was always a chance of confrontation. It is a misconception that B-boy battles replaced
fighting among individuals and crews.
The truth is that the battles sometimes inspired more violence than peace.
We acknowledge B-boying as possibly being an extension and progression of previous dance forms. There is an
obvious tribal essence which takes us back to the earliest African dance movements, and the influence of Brazilian martial
arts/dance techniques known as Capuera is clear.
In the early 1980s "boogaloo" or "popping", a West
Coast dance form, made its way to New York City.
By the time it reached the East Coast we had no knowledge of the
West Coast terminology so we chose our own,
"electric boogie" or "boogie" for short. As the B-boys and boogie dancers
came together, the term B-boy was shared by the two. Kool DJ Herc was referring to a dance movement and not a hard rock
image or fashion statement when he conceived the term B-boy. Those who consider themselves true members of the hip-hop
culture need to respect and understand not only our history, but the proper use of our terminology as well.
Back to history:
'The Good Foot'
James Brown had this song named 'The
good foot' and he would have this crazy wild footage to his song when he preformed it.People soon begun to take this moves
and add some more to it. They then called the new dance for the good foot. This was a dance that James Brown would do
in a break section of his song. So, the dancers that copied his moves started doing the same. And they started dancing only
in the breaks. DJ Kool Herc, a famous jamaican born DJ at that time called them the break boys because they would wait
for the break and then dance. In short term it was named B-Boys as it still are today. The dance enveloped from this on and
the boys created more moves. So, in a way me may say that James Brown was one of the inventors of the Break Dance art.
This went on until the pop group Chic released the track 'LeFreak' in 1979. There was a dance to this track.
It was named 'The Freak'. Most of the B-Boys stopped dancing and The freak took over for a while. Later would Rock
Steady Crew pick it up again. And the dance picked up..
They would start compete for more and more advanced
moves. Kool Herc thought it was a pity that the breaks were short, so he started playing the breaks over and over again.
Now the breaks could last forever. Then he started mixing the breaks together and made them go on for a while with
different breaks. The dancers were now in the spotlight. Then the art had inserts from Kung Fu, Campoera, acrobatic and other
styles. The B-Boys/B-Girls took the moves and advanced them, and it still expands today in new styles and wild power
This all started in the 70's, in the Bronx, New York. People were dancing all around.
one of the famous places was the 'Happy Warrior' playground. The B-Boys started hanging out an doing their practice
and battling. It was on the 98th and Amsterdam, and became the lab from which B-Boy scientists concored rhythmic contortions,
magical dance positions and lethal injections of deadly moves. Later the Happy Warrior park would change name to "The
Rock Steady Park". (Rap Pages).
Before this there was dances like The Twist,
The Mashed Potato, The Frog and Hully Gully. (Ask your parents)
All those dances was seen on Dick Clark's famous
'American Bandstand' show that had all the hottest dances and trends...
-- Back in the 80's that some popular
dances in Brooklyn were the Smurf and Inspector Gadjet(they are both cartoon characters). They don't have a lot of historical
areas in Brooklyn regarding hip-hop. Hip-Hop started to take off in Brooklyn around the public schools. New York City schools
are broken down into P.S. (public school where you go to school from around 5 to 10), I.S. (Intermediate School where you
go from 10 to 13) and High School (13 to 17,18). The public schools (P.S.) tend to have big playgrounds and a lot of rappers/deejays
used to go to the public school playgrounds and have competitions. A popular school was P.S. 181 in an area of Brooklyn
called Flatbush. A famous person that used to go there and chill was Grandmaster Flash. Also, a lot of competitions used to
be held in an area called Coney Island. I'm not sure if it was at any of the schools in that area.
-- Info by Chasson, Brooklyn, New York --
The B-Boy moves were spread by the subway trips
to different Jams and sessions.
One famous battle was captured on film in the
commercial Hip-Hop movie named 'Beat Street', 1984.
The battle scene between Rock Steady Crew & New York City Breakers
in "Beat Street" inspired
so many people world wide and made them crazy about breaking.
At the time when it became less popular in
the USA (about '85, '86), it grew more and more in Europe.
It had it's peak around 1988 before falling out. Some crews
a breakers kept it alive. And around 91-92 a German crew named Battle Squad' went over to New York. In New York they then
realized that the breaking wasn't dead and it started as a second wave.
Nowadays there are dancers all over the world
and the scene in New York grows again. In Europe there are a few crews that have existed for many years; Second To None
(England), Actual Force (France), Battle Squad (Germany/ Italy), Enemy Squad (Hungary) and a lot of crews that
are changing all the time among a whole lot of upcoming new breed.
There are different styles of dancing in Hip-Hop.
Not only Breakdance. You got Breaking (well known), Brooklyn Rock (Advanced uprock), Popping (More like Electric
Boogaloo), and Locking. The Popping and Locking were invented at the West coast while Uprocking and Breaking were invented
in the ghetto of New York.
You could from 1974 watch glimpses of locking,
popping and the robot on TV shows like, Soul Train, The Big Show and What's Happening!. In the late 70's there were only
a few dancers who practiced these forms in New York except for some dancers that had moved from the West to the East.
has today been used in several movies, TV shows and commercials like, Coca Cola, Pepsi, Burger King, BK Shoes and Panasonic.
There were a lot of gangs
and violence in the early 70's and it just became worse. Only a few people realized that there was no sense in it. One
of them was Afrika Bambaataa. So he formed a culture named Hip Hop.
He put together a lot of dancers, MC's , DJ's &
Graffiti to one community. There were a lot of B-Boys who practiced all day long to get ready for the battle in the evening.
These battles usually took place on parties which had been organized by Afrika Bambaata and the whole Zulu Nation.