During the last 10 years we’ve had a chance to experience the breaking scene in China grow. First time I went there for breaking was 2008, a small jam in a club with 20 people entering. I came back five times ever since and seen the scene blow up to become the biggest breaking scene on the planet. It’s not a rare thing to get over a thousand people to enter a competition out there. During our last trip we heard stories of an event with 4000 people joining the solo b-boy competition.
How did breaking start in China to begin with?
We sat down with b-boy Danny of Caster Evolution, Sketchers All Stars, Bboyworld Asia and Mighty Zulu Kings. He’s one of the first generation b-boys out there who’s done an enormous amount of work for the Chinese scene. Danny runs one of the biggest events B.I.S. (B-Boy In China) as well as Caster studios in Shanghai.
According to him the first wave of the 80’s didn’t catch China at all. 90’s was the decade that sparked the fire.
Let’s see how Danny breaks down the history of Chinese breaking:
“First generation of Chinese breaking dates back to 93. A contemporary dancer from China went to New York to learn contemporary dance because there wasn’t too much in China. During his travel he saw breaking done on the streets of NY. When he came back he and others tried to learn by memorising what he saw. They tried to do the same moves like waving, electric boogie, some b-boy stuff and locking. They put everything together and made a performance in a tv show. This was big and got a lot of people started. After 93 all my class mates saw breaking and we started to try it too. Simple stuff, nobody could do windmills or stuff like this yet.
Around that time everyone was dancing disco. You would go to a club, the guys were dancing with girls wearing original disco clothing. I went with my mother back then. After 95 music in discos started to chance. After 10 pm was some rap music, later switched to RnB and then techno and after 12 it was always 30 minutes of breakbeats like Afrika Bambaataa or James Brown. When I was young we always went and had only 30 minutes of time to dance when the music was right.
In 97 I saw RUN DMC music video It’s Like That. They would play it on tv after 12 at night. Before breaking I was dancing popping, locking, hip hop and house, everyone did them back then. I trained gymnastics for 15 years. Seeing the video with Kujo and an airflare opened up my eyes on what’s possible in breaking. We saw a similarity with local Kung Fu and breaking as well.
After 96 or 97 we had Japanese college students doing shows in our college. Their last show was breaking. They asked our students to come to the stage as well so I went. We battled in flares and with my gymnastics background it was easy for me while the Japanese b-boys were more into foundation. So after the show we decided to exchange. I taught them power and they taught me foundation, tops, footwork and drops. They gave us some videos as well of the Rock Steady Crew and the b-boys from the US.
We would start going to other colleges to find international students who knew breaking. Soon we made a show and got to perform on tv as well. We called the crew TNT, crew made of different styles. The show got pretty famous in China, a lot of people copied it after seeing it on tv.
Around 2000 in China the internet wasn’t too open but we had chat rooms. Some crews set up websites and many crews said they were the best in China. End of July in 2000 we had our first street dance battle in Shanghai called Battle of China. All the crews came out from different cities as well. Zingzhou city was already very strong with power with halos and stuff like nobody else. Before the final like 20 b-boys battled me. I could do airflares already back then unlike anybody else, once I did it everybody stopped calling me out. Based on this battle people called me the best b-boy in China.
2001 we stopped doing the shows, I wanted to focus on breaking more seriously after I finished studies. In Zingzhou they started doing events every year. They had me judging every year for 3 years and teaching as well. Quanzhou city had a hip hop organization and webpage called China Street that connected the scene in the south of China.
Around this time more people were teaching and we started to get more crews like Dragon Styles, 36 Chambers etc and different cities were strong too, Beijing and Wuhan. 2004 we had our first Battle of the Year, Hustle And Freeze and Keep On Dancing (KOD). South already had over a 1000 b-boys but no big events.
After 2004 government started to make events on tv. With tv it was quick fame but there was a lot of politics involved. I left that soon, wanted to travel more and make my own events. 2006 I went to IBE and went to Floor Wars in Denmark. Same year I started to organizing B.I.S. (B-Boy In Shanghai) to bring the Chinese scene together. Soon more people from outside of the country started to come as guests for events and the scene grew a lot bigger quick.
Every time the workshops by guests at B.I.S. were free so the scene would get better, because there was a lot of biting going on and b-boys were very poor. We got a lot of heat from bringing a lot of international breakers who often won the battles. People said we don’t support the Chinese breakers but that’s not true. We made this so people in China would battle the best and become better.
We’ve done many different projects like the Pioneer crew bringing people together to battle outside of the country. Sketchers Allstars aswell, it’s a platform for the next generation b-boys to represent in battles.”
Traveling outside the country has been a little difficult for Chinese b-boys because it’s difficult to get a visa. But if the numbers stay like this we’re sure in a year or two we will get a bunch of international superstar b-boys and b-girls representing China! Stay on the lookout for some Chinese skills!
-Focus / bboydojo.com
Ps. We’ve covered the history of a couple of countries already. Which country should be up next? Do you even know someone who could help writing a history article for the blog?
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