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Breakdance: What does it mean to be a B-Boy

What does it mean to be a B-Boy
A b-boy is not a term to be taken lightly, nor can it be given to just anyone. Many people that think they are down with hip-hop call themselves a b-boy or b-girl without actally knowing what the term means. The 'b' in b-boy/girl stands for boogie or break because when the DJ spun the old school break beats, people started gettin down.

In general, a b-boy is someone who is true to hip-hop whether they are male or female. In terms of dancing, being accepted as a b-boy is one of the highest honors a hip-hop dancer can get. Being a b-boy means that you are a representative of the dance aspect of hip-hop culture and not a sell-out or a wannabe. It separates you from the rest of the dancers that think they are down with hip-hop because they learned a hip-hop dance routine at one point in their life. A true b-boy lives and breathes hip-hop culture and dedicates his life to the pursuit of higher levels of hip-hop. Many technical dancers view hip-hop dance as a low-level form of dance (compared to jazz of ballet).

Some of the more open-minded dancers are 'cool' with hip-hop and think that it is a neat form of dancing. The latter especially are an insult to hip-hop because they act like they are down with it, yet they actually view it as a novelty, much like how an adult would smile at a child that is trying to act like an adult. The levels of technical dance are decreasing because the cutting edge is no longer being pushed. One of the big differences between hip-hop and technical dancing is that hip-hop dancers emphasize creating their own style and moves. Technical dancers stay in classrooms all day and learn choreography done by other people.

There is no emphasis on the creation of personal moves, or personal styles. Uniformity and the ability to learn other people's choreography is the emphasis and so the creative aspect of technical dancing is only embodied in the choreography rather than the actual process of dancing.

That is why being a b-boy is such a high title in the realm of hip-hop. A b-boy is a dancer to the extreme, elevating the level of hip-hop through creation of both moves and style. B-boys are self-sufficient dancers. They have no need for choreographers or dance routines to dance. They can stand alone in the middle of a circle and wreck shop. Or they can get together in crews and dance routines... and still wreck shop.

Many people still call street/club dancing "BREAKDANCING". Truth is that there were no b-boys or street dancers back in the days who did breakdancing. What they were doing was b-boying (or breaking), locking and popping. The term "BREAKDANCING" was created by media. And generally when people say "breakdancing", it could mean either old school dancing (breaking, locking and popping) or street/club dancing in general including old school and new school. This is confusing and people should not use this term any more. In stead, people should specifically say the name of style. In case when you want to talk about this kind of dance in general "street/club dancing" should be used.

Real hip-hop dancers dance to earn the respect of other dancers like themselves and this respect is earned through individuality, as opposed to uniformity. Hip-hop was never meant to be commercial and so there is no such thing as"commercial hip-hop". We can't help it if people enjoy watching hip-hop dancing but we can't let them corrupt the art and culture of it. That is how the wack dance teams are formed, performing the cheese that they call hip-hop. Real hip-hop is the dance style based on the foundations:

1) popping
2) locking
3) b-boying (breaking).

It is not confined to any one category though. New school hip-hop is a style derived from all categories, but with more flavor in the movement. It is heavily dependent on style, but creative moves count also. There is also a new style called house. This style is still young and in the development stages where all the dancers are trying to push it forward. It combines all kinds of styles from all over the world: african dance, capoeira, tap, jazz, ballet turns, popping, locking, breaking... it is a dance stew where everybody can put in whatever they want as long as its dope. House has not been officially accepted by hard core hip-hop dancers but as a style, it really kicks ass. Even though it is not hip-hop, it passes the ultimate test: it gets props in a circle.

Kids nowadays take hip hop as a fad. They try to dress, talk, and walk, "hip hop" to get girls/boys and for popularity. They consider themselves "b-boy", "b-girl" or "hip hoppers". These kids give hip hop a bad name, so for those kids out there (you know who you are) here are some facts to get you started to understand what hiphop really is. Hip hop is a culture that consist of DJing, Rapping, graffitti, and B-boyin. Hip hop is not only b-boyin or graffitti or Rap or Dee Jaying it's all four elements. It was started inthe early 70's by Cool Herc. Each element has a deep history, and until a person learns, understands and apply them inhis/her life then that person cannot be conisedred a hip hopper until then. Nowadays theterm b-boy is used for anyone associated with Hiphop.

The real meaning of of b-boy is "break" boy - a person that dances during the instrumental break of a music. But just because a person can spin on his back/head and do all types of power moves, it doesnt automatically make that person a b-boy. A b-boy has to have a sence of style and needs to understand the culture. Further information can be acquired in books, magazine, internet, and videos such as "WILDSTYLE" and "STYLEWARS" (be careful though cuz some info might not be true) So keep this in mind next time you call yourself a b-boy/girl or hip hopper. It's not all about skills its also about knowing your history. Keep it real!

Talking about b-boying, it is not true they dance to emphasize to lryrics. Actually, most of music for b-boying has no lyrics or if it has, the message is not so deep. You should know that it is wack to do b-boying to most of present hiphop music because it just doesn't match. (ANd that's how new school dance came out). Most of present hip hop music has down beat. Back in the days, when b-boying came out, they wrecked to uptempo music such as "Just Begun" or Incredible Bongo Band's "Apatch" or some party jam. And even new school dancers dance to beat, not lyrics. Look at dancers in NY practicing or choreographing. They often use mixed tape of instrumental music (no lyrics). It is not true to say that it's the lyrics that inspired the moves. MAybe some dancers are, though.

Talking about hiphop culture, you said hip-hop began as a form of black protest against this fucke dup society, and for there to be an emphasis on lyrics is quite relevant. This is true at present time. But it really didn't begin exactly that way. Maybe it was as a result. First rap song which had a message against society was "MESSAGE" by Grandmaster Flash. Before this song, nobody really rapped about society. It was more toward having a fun to overcome fucked up society. Hip hop culture developed from people's frustration. It was more toward to forget this frustration and have good time like Chic's "Good Time" instead of "FUCK THE SOCIETY." or "STOP RACISM" types of things. And don't forget that hip hop started as black and HISPANIC youth's art form of expression. Without hispanic, b-boying never got to this level. B-boying was once dying around 1978. Black people got tired of it. But hispanic kids took to to the next level. RSC, NYC Breakers mostly consists of Puertoricans.

The new generation of dancers really do not have any resources to learn true hip-hop from except for maybe breaking videos that are sold around LA. Back in the days, good dancers could be seen on Soul Train or on music videos performing with the rapppers. Unfortunately those days where rappers use dancers are long gone, and Soul Train seems to have slipped from its roots and airs mostly wack and hoochie dancers. The key to bringing the level of dance higher lies in exposing the dancers (and the public for that matter) to all the styles of hip-hop instead of just one isolated style. This can be done through hip-hop dance classes that actually teach hip-hop.

Probably one of the biggest factors that holds dancers around here back is the general attitude towards hip-hop dance. The attitude is that hip-hop dance is only for young kids and stems from the fact that breaking is usually practiced by younger people because of the strain on the body. Hip-hop dancers in their 20's are looked upon as old, and dancers in their 30's are laughed at. However technical dancers are usually not even respected until they are in their 20's. The hip-hop dance style needs and relies on older dancers because they have minds mature enough to take the style as far as it can go. A mature mind is required to have a creative yet analytical approach to the dance because the truly great dancers need to understand the way different body motions produce different effects. Whether you are trying to create an illusion where the hand controls parts of the body, or you are trying to manipulate your body to make it look robotic, or moving fast and then pulling a freeze out of nowhere, an understanding of the body is required and how different movements cause the audience to perceive different effects. There is also a remarkable difference in choreography between younger and older people. The routines choreographed by high school students (with the exception of a few) are usually much simpler than those choreographed by older people. Again it is due to the understanding of how formations can be used, moves within those formations, and just moves in general. It doesn't mean that young dancers are no good, or lack the talent to make good routines, etc...

Good dancing is achieved from experienced dancers, but if we continue to put an age cap on hip-hop dancers, we will always lose the experienced ones.

If we want to increase the dance level, we need to encourage people to continue dancing even if they are past their teens. They do not need to dedicate their life to it, but as long as they maintain it as a hobby, they can still contribute their experience to newer dancers. We also need more goals for the dancers to strive for such as more contests and showcases so that the good dancers can get fame and the lesser dancers can see what it takes to get good. We need more schools to teach the styles. This would serve two purposes. The first is that it can educate dancers to different styles as well as teach them the fundamentals so that they do not have to reinvent them, themselves. The second is that it gives experience dancers work ( at least part-time) and is a motivation for them to keep dancing. And of course, it would be nice if rappers used dancers again (and also DJ's) so that good dancers would have work and the public can see what good hip-hop dancing looks like. That way, people could aspire to be professional hip-hop dancers and not be laughed at or mocked by society, but instead be respected as artists.
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