At those very first parties where hip hop was founded, DJs would play music that had a breakdown section to it. This was where the vocals would drop out and the drummer would just go off. The crowd loved it. Seeing its success, DJs started extending this part of the music, and somehow, someway, people started getting down on the floor to dance to the break beats. That’s how the term bboy or bgirl came about- break boy, break girl, or just simply a breaker.
The Thing About ‘Breakdancing’
Thanks to that one scene in Flashdance and other commercial features, breaking became an international success in the 80s. What’s more, the mainstream media labelled it as ‘breakdancing’, which was not what break’s pioneers had ever called it. Inevitably, once the media had profited off of breaking’s underground culture, they moved on. To some, the term ‘breakdancing’ is therefore an ingenuine label for the culture, so some breakers prefer not to use it.
Cyphers are a crucial aspect of break and other street styles like popping, bugaloo, house and more. Our lessons usually end with a cypher, and in trainings we can cypher to practice whatever we’ve been working on. To beginners, this may seem quite daunting, but do not fear! At Burban the cyphers are pretty chill and literally no one is judging you, we are all there to learn after all.
By contrast, cyphers at external events, competitions and jams can get quite hype, and it will take a bit of experience to get used to them. If you’re interested, hear from a Burban OG, Jason Forder, on How to Cypher: Jams, Events and Competitions.
Battles have been hosted by Burban in past events, and sometimes breakers will battle just for fun at trainings (click on the links to see some videos!). They are competitive, hype and always a lot of fun to watch. There are also signs and hand gestures breakers use to signify something or call out their opponent. If you want to know a bit more about these and gain some tips, feel free to take a look at what Jason also wrote on Battles: Signs & Tips.
Just like any other dance style, be it ballet or tap, the break scene has its own vocabulary that’s closely linked with the culture and history. You can find a list of typical breaking terms in our Break Glossary, written by you guessed it, Jason again.
Break started by dancers getting down to the break down section of the music. At the early parties where hip hop started, it was actually the percussive drum solos (breaks) of R&B, funk and soul being played. This breakdown was then extended and layered with MCing (rapping) to create what we now know as hip hop. Therefore, a lot of the music we break to is funk, hip hop, or anything with a good breakbeat really. Here are some useful links to find music, feel free to have a listen!
Bboy Mixtapes/ Playlists on SoundCloud
Bboy Breakbeats Playlist on Spotify
Bboy Music on Spotify
Bboy Music 4 Life on Youtube
We here at Burban never stop learning! These pages gave you just an introduction to breaking but there are many more resources out there to help you advance that 5th element of hip hop ;)
Freshest Kids: a documentary that takes you through the history of breaking by interviewing its first pioneers. Very much recommend this fun and chill watch.
RedBull is one of the leading platforms that bring together bboys and bgirls from all around the world. They also host one of the major international breaking championships: the RedBull BC One.
Prominent Breakers on social media: Crazy Legs (who was one of the pioneers and uses his platform to educate the younger generations), Menno, Jilou, Wing, Sunni, Logistx, Ayumi