Before diving into the history of the fascinating B-girl subculture, it is imperative to understand the roots of the break dancing culture. As talked about in lecture, break dancing is one of the four elements of hip-hop, the other three being DJing, ,MCing, and Graffiti. Break dancing began in the streets of New York mainly in the low-income areas such as Brooklyn, and the Bronx. It originated within the African American and Latino community and eventually spread throughout all communities. James Browns music dramatically affected the evolution of break dancing with the smash hit “Get one the Good Foot” in 1969. The song started off the style of dance “Good-Foot,” which later became known as “B-boyin.” When break dancing first started out it was more different than what one sees today. There were no head spins, windmills, back spins. Old style breaking only consisted on someone’s foot work (Fresh).
Break dancing was thought to have been created in the late 60’s early 70’s, but there is not specific point in time that can be traced back to its founding. People would gather around in the streets to show off their moves and it did not take long for dance battles to occur. There were many different stories as to how break dancing was created but the most popular idea that people thought of was that break dancing is what came of gang fights in New York. A few reasons to this explanation was how the body was affected during break dancing, the same muscles were being used for fighting. The main participants in the beginning were a lot of the youth and street games of the South Bronx. The best breakers in opposing gangs would have a dance battle rather than fighting. Break dancing was all about pushing yourself to your limits and beating your opponent. There were endless reasons as to why they were fighting but it always came down to gaining respect (Fresh).
In this way Break dancing crews (groups of dancers who would practice and perform together) were formed. Formal crews were then organized, who not only practiced and performed together, but also developed their own routines and tricks. Some crews had nothing else to do so they would always practice and keep creating more and more complex moves, while improving their form and speed. Afrika Bambaataa was the individual most responsible for the success of break dancing. He saw breaking more than just dancing; he saw it as a way to achieve something. He encouraged the break dancers to keeping hard, he then started one of the first break dance crews the Zulu Kings. Through the commercialization and globalization of the breakdancing, people from all over the world with a variety of social and economic backgrounds have now become a part of the global breakdance community. It finally hit the mainstream and as a result, more dance battle contested were being held, breakers were used in music videos, were influencing professional dancers and break dance movies were being made (Fresh).
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