A B-boy or B-girl is a person devoted to hip-hop culture, specifically the breakdance element. The term originates from Hip-Hop Pioneer and Godfather, Kool DJ Herc, who, noticing the reaction of some dancers to his playing the part of the record with a drum break, named them break-boys or B-boys. It quickly came to include any follower of hip hop, identifiable by clothing habits, listening tastes or lifestyle, but has returned in latter years to the more specific usage in connection with dance.


There are four basic elements which form the foundation of B-boying. The first is Toprock, a term referring to the upright dancing and shuffles that B-boys do when they enter a circle. The second element is the Downrock or Footwork, refers to dancing performed on the floor. The third element, is known as the Freeze, refers to the poses that B-boys throw into their dance sets to add punctuation to certain beats and end their routines. The fourth and final element of bboying is the Power moves. These are acrobatic moves normally made up of circular motions where the dancer will spin either on the floor, or in the air.

A related dance form which influenced B-boyings Uprocking / Rocking / The Rock Dance, also performed while standing, and a style of dance in which both dancers fabricate ways of beating the opponent using fictional weaponry and embarrassing situations in rhythm with the music (Burning). This style involves moves called Yerks [pronounced Jerks] which are a set of motions executed to the break of a track and are where most of the battling occurs, outside of the break of a track is where the freestyle element of the dance is executed with great musicality throughout.

B-boy fictionEdit

The first B-boy-themed novel, Kid B, was published by Houghton Mifflin in 2006. The author, Linden Dalecki, was an amateur B-boy in high school and directed a short documentary film about Texas B-boy culture before writing the novel. The novel was expanded from a B-boy-themed short story The B-Boys of Beaumont, that won the 2004 Austin Chronicle short story contest.


A crew is a group of two or more b-boys or b-girls who choose to dance together for whatever purpose, either simultaneously or separately. Some of the most known crews to the mainstream population in the USA include crews like the Rock Steady Crew, New York City Breakers and the Boogie Brats.


Battles are an integral part of the b-boying culture. They can take the form of a cypher battle and an organized battle. Both types of battles are head to head confrontations between individuals or groups of dancers who try to out-dance each other.

The cypher (or the circle) is the name given to a circle of b-boys and/or b-girls who take turns dancing in the center. There are no judges (other than the participants of the cypher itself), concrete rules or restrictions in the cypher, only unsaid traditions. Although people aren't always battling each other in the cypher, there are many times when battles do take place. B-boying began in the cypher and only later did organized competition develop. This type of battle is how b-boying was originally and it is often more confrontational and more personal. The battle goes on until it ends for one of many possible reasons, such as one dancer admitting defeat. Cypher culture is more present in communities with a stronger emphasis and understanding of original, true hip hop culture. Battling in the cypher is also a common way for dancers to settle issues between each other whether it be individuals or crews.

Organized battles, however, set a format for the battle, such as a time limit, or specify a limit for the number of dancers that can represent each side. Organized battles also have judges, who are usually chosen based on years of experience, level of deeper cultural knowledge, contribution to the scene and general ability to judge in an unbiased manner. There are however, times when non b-boys or non b-girls are chosen to judge by some organizers, and these type of events (jams) are often looked down upon by the b-boying community. Organized battles are far more publicized and known to the mainstream community, and include famous international-level competitions such as Battle of the Year, UK B-Boy Championships Redbull BC One, Freestyle Session and R16 Korea. It should be noted however that a view exists that a trend in recent years has been to place an over-emphasis on organized battles, which takes away from a more originality-based aspect of the culture that is often more emphasized in cypher culture.[1]

Various B-boy stylesEdit

There are many different styles one can use to break, often stemming from a given b-boy or b-girl's area of origin and dancing influences. Although there are some generalizations on the kind of styles that exist, many b-boys and b-girls will try to combine elements from different styles with their own ideas and knowledge in order to create their own style.


Power - When people ask b-boys if they "breakdance," usually this is what is comes to mind. Power moves deal with full-body spins and rotations that give the illusion of defying gravity. Headspins, backspins, windmills, flares, airtracks, 1990s, 2000s, jackhammers, crickets, turtles, hand glide, halos, etc.

Abstract - A very broad term of a b-boy style, but may include the incorporation of threading footwork, freestyle movement to hit beats, the inclusion of house dancing, broken link styles and "circus" styles (balance, tricks, contortionism, etc.)

Blowup Style - A type of dancing based on the "wow factor" of some power, freeze, trick, and circus style. Blowup styles are made to pile as many difficult trick combinations together right after one another to "smack" the other b-boy. Usually comes after becoming proficient in other styles first due to the amount of control and practice needed. These are the names of some of the moves: airbaby, airchair, hollow backs, solar eclipse, reverse airbaby, etc. The main point in blowup style is that a b-boy needs to be able to go from one move to another, or better yet, transition between several moves back and forth.


  • David Toop (1991). Rap Attack 2: African Rap To Global Hip Hop, p.113-115. New York. New York: Serpent's Tail. ISBN 1-85242-243-2.

External linksEdit

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