History of Break Dancing - 70s
The history of break dancing demostrates this art’s incredible evolution, into the flashy and sometimes unbelievable dance style you see today. To really find out where it all began, we have to go back to the 70s or earlier.
The first true seeds of bboying where planted in 1969 by a well known singer / dancer called James Brown. He was always recognized for his funky songs and unique dance moves, but Brown really started something special when he released and performed his hit song ‘Get on the Good Foot’.
The moves he did quickly became identified and practiced by many, but some New York gangs (of those days), mostly from the South Bronx, discovered a new creative outlet. This new style would incorporate floor rock (or down rock, or footwork) that was like no other style of dance.
These crews from New York practice and then would use break dancing to:
- Show superiority,
- Insult, and/or
- Gain respect.
Even if these battles would often result in physical fights at first, it would become far easier to ‘serve it up’ on the dance floor (rather than getting in real trouble with NYPD).
So, they would come up with new moves, and new ways to insult the other crew. They invented a form of pretend fighting, known as uprocking, where they would swing punches (or other attacks), without hitting the opponent, while stepping on beat.
In this process they formed the basics of bboying and battling. Toprock moves, floor rock moves, and simple powermoves were developed as more crews got involved, and new promoters stepped up.
One of the earliest, and most important, promoters to get involved was a member of the group Soul Sonic Force (and a record producer) named Afrika Bambaataa, who helped to expose this art when he saw its potential for entertainment.
As more crews started ‘breakin it down’, formal tournaments began to emerge. Two crews would dominate the growing scene for a number of years, the Zulu Kings and Rock Steady Crew.
Not too long after, Rock Steady Crew was performing at the Ritz Theater, and all witnesses were blown away by their athleticism and originality.
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