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Breakdancing History

Breakdancing History: All Along the 'Good Foot' Route

If you ever saw a B-boy going at it, or wanted to get into breakdancing yourself, you may also have wondered about the origins of those spellbinding moves. This dance form has an interesting history behind it. Read on to know more...
Arjun Kulkarni
Last Updated: Mar 10, 2018
Breakdancing, also called breaking or B-boying, is one of the most popular and physically difficult dance forms. It is also one which is widely followed by hip-hop lovers across the world.
Breakdancing Over Time
Like rapping, the roots of breakdancing can be largely traced back to the Bronx in New York. Puerto Ricans were very important in the origin and popularization of this energetic dance form. It also became an important part of rap music itself, and both art forms grew into the global favorites of today, hand-in-hand.
The dance originated around the late 1960s, but it wasn't till the 70s and 80s that it gained widespread popularity. At the time, it used to be a part of a rap performance, during the 'breakdown'. The DJs would perform the breakdown at some point during the song, where the breakdancers used to come in and do their act.
The various moves in breakdancing found their origins in different sources, the most common among them being kung fu! Hard to believe, isn't it?
But the man who is largely credited as the person who came up with the dance form was James Brown. In 1969, James Brown came up with a dance video titled 'Get Down on the Good Foot', and that is where breakdancing is claimed to have started. It was known as 'Good Foot' back in those days, drawing from the name of the song that started it all. The fights in the Bronx between rival African-American gangs slowly started being replaced by 'Good Foot battles'. The onlookers encouraged this less violent and creative activity.
Early forms of the dance mostly had a lot of Floor Rock, and nothing else. But over the years, as it became more and more popular and competitive, the uprock, the tailspin, the headspin, and all the other modern moves started coming to the fore a lot more. By the middle and late 1980s, these moves had become an intrinsic part of this dance form.
A group of dancers which performed together was known as a crew. As it became more and more popular, more 'crews' started coming up. In the 1970s, Afrika Bambaataa, the 'godfather' of breakdancing and a very influential figure in American music, formed the Universal Zulu Nation, an organization to spread awareness about breakdancing. The first members of the Zulu Nation were known as the Zulu Kings, and were instrumental in making breakdancing one of the most popular dance forms in the world.
Afrika Bambaataa saw it as a great way to get the African-Americans to direct their angst towards each other and white folks to a more creative outlet. And as the violent gang fights started being replaced more and more by dance battles, it became evident that Afrika Bambaataa had been successful in his venture.
Like I said, breakdancing or hip-hop dance is no longer an integral part of only the African-American culture, but is now a widespread phenomenon all over the world!
Team of teenagers hip hop dancing
James Brown star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Woman doing dancing