In the early part of 1983 I was 13 years old and beginning to really develop a love for music. I had been obsessed with Michael Jackson for years before he did his backslide (neospeak:moonwalk) on Motown 25, but that moment influenced a lot of people, including me, because it was like a magic trick. There was my musical hero, dancing better than I had ever seen anyone dance. He looked like he was trying to walk forward but was moving backward. And it was so smoooooth… I’ve seen better since, but it’s still one of the best. Only a few months later, on a show called Night Flight, a pre-MTV, late night show that featured music videos and odd material such as documentaries about underground culture, I saw a few minutes of a doc about the emerging Hip Hop scene in Los Angeles. And it literally changed my life.
Not only did I want to dance like Michael Jackson, now I had to dance like these guys in the movie! They were doing the same kind of magic trick, but then then doing a thousand more magic tricks with their bodies. They literally looked inhuman. Sometimes like looking like robots or mannequins, sometimes floating on air and waving like they were made out of plastic and water. And the music… it was like nothing I had ever heard before. So mechanical and robotic, yet funky. From that moment on, all I wanted to do was dance like that. I literally became possessed by the idea, obsessed with finding out how to learn. It was shortly after that I met the now world-famous Rick Robinson and he taught me the basics of popping, Chicago style.
The next year I met someone who had the whole documentary on video and he showed it to me and our little Hip Hop crew we had formed. It blew us all away and I got a copy from him. I began watching it every day and modeling my dance moves from it, especially those of Boogaloo Shrimp. Many of the people in this documentary went on to star in the movie Breakin’, which introduced most of america to the culture (although in a bubble gum way). To this day, the foundations of my dance moves can be found in this film. I’m so glad it finally made its way to the internet. Until last year, I hadn’t seen it in over 20 years. You should watch the whole thing. WrrD! ~Digga
Last night I had the pleasure of attending a workshop hosted by Utah’s own B-Boy Federation at the Utah Arts Alliance facility in downtown Salt Lake City. I had the opportunity to meet, learn from and pick the brains of 3 of the most famous street dancers in history, one of whom was very influential to my style of dancing – the one and only Boogaloo Sam, inventor of the Electric Boogaloo style. The other two, Ken Swift and POE One are legendary members of the world-renown Rock Steady Crew, one of the most important B-Boy crews in Hip Hop.
Sam arrived first and for the first two hours taught us one of his classic popping routines and reinforced the basics of his trademark popping style. He really drilled us, too. It was a great work out and so much fun, clowning in the back row with Robot Rob and Terry Post. Then Ken Swift and POE One arrived for the discussion panel and we were able to hear from and ask questions of these icons of Hip Hop culture. We all learned a lot of history and insights that even I hadn’t heard about
For example, I had always been taught that B-Boy or B-Girl stood for “break boy” and was coined by Kool Herc. But I learned that it originally meant “Bronx Boy” and the term became associated with breaking because started mainly in the South Bronx and the DJ’s associated that borough (New York speak for greater neighborhood) with that style of dancing, so when they were ready to start juggling a break they would announce it to the South Bronx people by saying “B-Boys are you ready? B-Girls are you ready?”
The panel discussion was very casual and open format so we were able to actually make conversations out of it and I had some great exchanges with all three. I wish I could make it to the second night tonight and see the art show, but alas, I am pulled in other directions.
But I’m so glad I went; it once again refreshed my inspiration to continue living my life as an ambassador of true Hip Hop.
I just want to big up the one like Josh Perkins and the B-Boy Federation for making this happen and continuing to keep the true spirit of Hip Hop alive and well in Utah by providing quality events like these and opportunities for education!