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Breaking is the first dance of the sub-culture known as Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a sub-culture made up of 4 elements; DJing, MCing/Rapping, Graffiti, and Breaking.

*article by Emmanuel Adelekun


Breaking is the first dance of the sub-culture known as Hip Hop. Hip Hop is a sub-culture made up of 4 elements; DJing, MCing/Rapping, Graffiti, and Breaking.

Breaking is a dynamic and acrobatic dance that was born in the Bronx borough of New York City, in USA, during the 1970s.

It was created by working-class African-American, Latino and Caribbean immigrant youths, living in the impoverished, violent and crime ridden ghettos of the Bronx.

The dancers who practise Breaking are known as breakers or B-Boys and B-GirlsThe 'B' in B-Boy and B-Girl, stands for 'Break' i.e. Break-Boy or Break-Girl.

Some who were present when the dance was created have also said that the 'B' stands for 'Bronx', i.e. Bronx-Boy or Bronx-Girl, in reference to the fact that Breaking originated from the Bronx.  But the 'B' standing for 'Break' is what is generally recognised worldwide.


Jamaica born, Clive Campbell, known as DJ Kool Herc, is widely credited for inspiring the creation of Breaking. As a young adult Kool Herc would throw neighbourhood parties in the basement of his apartment building at 1520 Sedgwick Avenue, an address that is now famous in Breaking, and a place that many breakers visit if they are in New York.  Kool Herc noticed that the youths who came to his parties would go crazy on the dance floor, moving with high levels of sporadic energy, whenever the break of the song he was playing would come in.

-The 'Break' of a song is the part where all vocals and other instruments drop out, and only the percussion section (usually drums) is playing.

With a break on a song only usually lasting less than a minute, Kool Herc found a way to extend and loop the break. He would play two copies of the same record, on two turntables, and go back and forth between the two records with a technique called the 'Merry-Go-Round.' Doing this he was able to extend the break of the track and give the youths a longer break to dance too.  This is what is said to have sparked the creation of the dance of Breaking. It is also why the 'B' in 'B-Boy' and 'B-Girl' is said to stand for 'Break' because B-Boys and B-Girls dance to the 'break' of the music.

It was also said that Breaking was a way for the youth who practised the dance to 'break' free of the stresses of the violent and poverty stridden lives they were subjected to living.  It was said that when the teenagers danced they were literally 'breaking' inside i.e. letting go, releasing all their emotions, and being free in the moment.

As time went on Breaking formed its own foundational moves and became a fully identifiable dance style that spread across America, and then the world.


Breaking is, and has always been, the original and correct name for the dance.

Breakdancing although obviously very similar, was a term mistakenly coined by the media. This happened when the manager of Rock Steady crew referred to the dance as 'Breakdancing' while talking to the press during the Roxxy European Hip Hop tour in the 80s.

With Breaking being new to the world, 'Breakdancing' then became the term that the media used whenever they referred to it. But it wasn?t the similar name that was truly the issue, but the fact that movies and TV shows, like 'Beat Street', 'Flash Dance' and 'Breakin the Movie' showed other street born dance styles mixed in with Breaking.  Because of this, Breakdancing became the name used whenever people saw dancers doing any street dance style, be it Breaking, Popping, Locking or Hip hop party dances. The media and public would incorrectly call all of those styles, 'Breakdancing'.

This reinforced not only the use of the incorrect name, but also an incorrect idea of what Breaking actually was, taking away the true identity of Breaking as an individual style of dance.

When Breaking was officially added as one of the four new disciplines for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games, the worldwide breaking community (promoters, breakers, DJs, Host.etc) came together on a social media campaign to bring awareness to what Breaking actually is as an individual dance style. To do this the scene pushed to reclaim the styles identity by promoting the fact that 'Breaking' is the correct name for the dance.  This social media campaign was successful in bringing the International Olympic Community to officially remove 'Breakdancing' as the name they had been using for the sport, and replaced it with the correct name of 'Breaking'.

Although the media and public still use the term 'Breakdancing', the Breaking scene continues to bring awareness to the true name, and individual style, that is Breaking.


The basic rhythm and timing of the steps in Breaking are performed on the snare drum, (the 2 and 4 count) of a song. 

The main genres of music breakers dance to are: Funk, Rap, Soul, Breakbeats

Breakbeats are mostly taken from funk songs, but DJs have also found amazing breaks in obscure songs from all genres, including rock and pop music. A famous break beat from an obscure song is 'Jesus Christ Superstar Overture' from the rock opera.

Some classic songs breakers all know and dance to:
Apache by the Incredible Bongo Band
Just Begun by Jimmy Castor Bunch
The Mexican by Babe Ruth
James Brown has many tracks that breakers dance to including Give It Up or Turn It Loose, I Got That Feeling, Super Bad
Made You Look by Nas
Don't Sweat the Technique by Rakim
Poison by Kool G Rap
Funkier than a Mosquito's Tweeter by Nina Simone

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