Break Dancing in the 80s

With some great new beats to provide a soundtrack, break dancing in the 80s was everywhere.

This type of dancing was quite different from other styles – and not everyone could do it.

It took a lot of coordination, strength, and balance, but the best breakers of the 80s made it look ridiculously easy and made everyone want to try it.

Though break dancing in the 80s seemed like it just appeared out of nowhere, some of the moves can be traced back to James Brown and his ‘Good Foot’ dance. Breaking technically started during the late 70s, but really exploded in popularity in the early 80s.

DJ’s would take tracks of music, usually hip-hop, and loop the instrumental breaks to make them longer and stronger to provide some great beats. The term for this type of street dancing was called b-boying. One who performed it was either a b-boy or b-girl, but it has also simply been called breaking – or breakin’ – with the dancers being called breakers.

You could see breakers in major cities, especially New York, either on a sidewalks, basketball courts, parking lots, and even shopping malls. All they needed was a great boombox and maybe a big piece of cardboard to cover the concrete or asphalt. However, any smooth floor – like linoleum – would be perfect. Adding a pair of parachute pants would make it that much smoother.

Groups like The Rock Steady Crew and The New York City Breakers went on tour and performed both nationally and internationally, and were featured in commercials and movies.

Breaking incorporates an endless variety of moves – and moves within moves. Ideally, dancers are very innovative, and put their own twist on these moves, making them not just awesome, but original, too.

A routine will usually start with toprock moves, which are done standing up and include different types of steps like the power step, 4 corners, side step, hip twist, or even a moonwalk.

The floor work, or downrock, consists of any moves done on the floor where the hands and feet are both used. Examples of downrock moves are the coffee grinder, scissors, body glide, and the worm.

The power moves were always the coolest. They gave the illusion of defying gravity and floating. Some of the most recognizable are flares, windmills, backspins, headspins, and floats. The routine also includes drops and freezes.

People couldn’t get enough breaking in the 80s, and Hollywood capitalized on it. It was briefly featured in the movie ‘Flashdance,’ but had entire movies dedicated to both the dance style and the culture. There was ‘Wild Style,’ ‘Breakin,’ and ‘Breakin 2: Electric Boogaloo,’ and ‘Beat Street,’ among other movies, documentaries, and commercials.

Break dancing in the 80s took the world by storm. It was not easy, and if you wanted to learn, you had to be strong and have a certain amount of grace. Break dancing was always fun to watch.