In 1975, in New York, DJ Kool Herc was credited with extending the breaks in songs between beats by using two turntables and going back-n-forth with two copies of the same song so the dancers were able to enjoy more than just a few seconds of a break., this was called a breakbeat. When he did this, the dancers anticipated and reacted to these breaks with their most impressive steps and moves. The dancers adapted flashy moves like handstands and leg kicks from martial arts forms and kung fu movies. They honed the martial arts moves in gang wars and, later, gang dance competitions for turf. The dancers became known as b-boys, and their dance style, breakdancing. They began forming dancing gangs called crews, like the Rock Steady Crew, New York City Breakers, and the elite Zulu Kings, and battling one another for acknowledged dance supremacy instead of territory. By the late 1970s, the gangs were respected and known, and toured all over the world showing this new dance style.
In the early stages this dance was done upright, a form which became known as "top rocking". The structure and form of toprocking has influences from Brooklyn uprocking, tap dance, lyndi hop aka jitterbug, salsa (like the latin rock), Afro Cuban and various African and Native American dances. There is also a toprock Charleston step called the "Charlie Rock". Another major influence and inspiration was James Brown with his hits "Popcorn" and "Get on the Good Foot" Inspired by his energetic and almost acrobatic dance on stage, people started to dance the "Good Foot".
At the same time, a style of dancing where dancers "locked" themselves in flashy poses or "popped" body parts like they had an electric current flowing through their joints, was wildly popular in California. This style began in 1969, when Don Campbell, a shy university student, accidentally froze, or "locked," between regular dance moves. When his friends urged him on, he began freezing on purpose, and making funny faces. Freezing and locking were born.
In the late 1970s, the two dance styles combined. They were both flashy and became competitive. The resulting breakdancing became a common dance style in disco clubs and other arenas. The moonwalk, the dance move Michael Jackson made famous, was a breakdancing move.
As the tradition of dance battle was already well established at that time and as Breaking also got incorporated into the Hip Hop culture ("fight with creativity not with weapons"), it became more and more a dance that involved the dancer using their imagination to execute foot stomps, shuffles, punches and other battle movements. As a result it wasn't long before top rockers extended their dance to the ground with "footwork" and "freezes".
Floor rocking, influenced by material arts films from the early 70ies, tap dance and other dance forms, didn't replace toprocking but it was added to and became another key point in the dance. The transition from the standing to dropping to the ground was called the "godown" or the "drop". The smoother the drop, the better.
Freezes were usually used to end a series of combinations or to mock and humiliate the opponent. Certain freezes were also named, like the two most popular: "chair freeze" and "baby freeze". The chair freeze became the foundation for various moves because of the potential range of motion a dancer had in this position (hand, forearm and elbow support the body while allowing free range of movement with the legs and hips).
The main goal in a Breaking Battle was to beat the "opponent" by being more creative with Steps and Freezes and by doing better and faster Moves. That's also why Breaking crews - groups of dancers who practiced and performed together - were formed for developing their own dance routines to stand out against other crews.
The first known Breaking Crew was called The Nigga Twins and with other crews like The Zulu Kings, The Seven Deadly Sinners, The Bronx Boys, Rock Steady Crew and the Crazy Commanders, they were the pioneers. After some years of developing this new dance style there were dancers around in the middle of the 70's who had already remarkable skills. The following dancers were the B-Boy Kings in the mid 70's: Beaver, Robbie Rob (Zulu Kings), Vinnie, Off (Salsoul), Bos (Starchild La Rock), Willie Wil, Lil' Carlos (Rockwell Association), Spy, Shorty (Crazy Commanders), James Bond, Larry Lar, Charlie Rock (KC Crew), Spidey, Walter (Master Plan) and others...
The biggest crew rivalries during that period (which was the driving force and which was what kept the crews alive) were between SalSoul (this crew changed their name later on to The DiscoKids) and Zulu Kings as well as between Starchild La Rock and Rockwell Association. At that time Breakin was still just about Freezes, Footworks and Toprocks. There were no Spins! By the late 70's a lot of early B-Boys retired and a new generation of dancers grew up who combined the till then known basics with more and more spins on almost every part of the body. Nowadays well known moves like Headspin, Continues Backspin (aka Windmill) and all kind of glides were created at that time.
Around the 80's there were crews in NYC like Rock Steady Crew, NYC Breakers, Dynamic Rockers, United States Breakers, Crazy Breakers, Floor Lords, Floor Masters, Incredible Breakers, Magnificent Force and much more. Some of the best dancers at that time were guys like Chino, Brian, German (Incredible Breakers), Dr. Love (Master Mind), Flip (Scrambling Feet), Tiny (Incredible Body Mechanic) and many more. The biggest rivalries during that time were between Rock Steady Crew and NYC Breakers as well as between Rock Steady Crew and Dynamic Rockers. The early 80's battles between these crews attracted the attention of the media.
In '81 the ABC News showed a performance of Rock Steady Crew at Lincoln Center. Then in '82 a battle between Rock Steady Crew and Dynamic Rockers was recorded for the film/documentary "Style Wars" which was later on also aired nationally on PBS and that's how Breakin found the way to the West Coast of the USA. In the same year the "Roxy" formerly known as a Rollerskate Disco was reopened as a Hip Hop Club.
Breakdancing became a mainstream fad in 1983, when the movie "Flashdance" introduced street dancing to the general public. Breakin became more and more a trend and B-Boys appeared in commercials (for milk, Right Guard, Burger King,..) and TV shows (Fame, That's Incredible!, David Letterman). B-Boys were even honored guests of the prince of Bahrain and of Queen Elizabeth. '85 was also the release of "Electro Rock" - a video which was filmed at a party in the "Hippodome" in London and which showed the UK Hip Hop Scene (with guests from the USA). In '86 the UK FRESH took place in the Wembley Arena (London) which was one of the biggest and most historical breakin events at that time.
In '87 for most people and particularly for the media "Breakdance" was played out. Only very few dancers kept on practicing and dancing seriously, not only in New York but all around the world. For almost 5 years Breakdancing went underground, almost completely disappearing from the public eye.
No one knows why, but in the early 1990s, breakdancing began coming back into fashion. This time, it was flashier, with more athletic moves based on gymnastics and mime. And breakers danced to hip-hop beats, rather than the disco styles of the late '70s. Some of the old groups like the Rock Steady Crew remain the elite dancers.
And now in the year 2002 breakdancing is bigger then ever, yet again appearing in commercials and in music videos everywhere. Although now a days the ‘power moves' are portrayed more then the style side of breakdancing. My guess is likly because b-boys either don't want other breakers to copy their style, or the producers want big flashy moves in their commercials and videos because they think it looks better. Sources I used in writing this essay include: http://newmedia.colorado.edu/newsroom/edit/155.html http://www.globaldarkness.com/articles/salary.htm http://www.phatbreaker.com/history.html I forgot to write down a few web sites and I used a bit from what I knew already