In Part 1 of this four-part series, we are introduced to the Red Bull BC One Northwest Cypher and dig into the history of the awesome and unique world of breaking.
- Part I: Welcome To The World of Breakdancing
- Part II: Your Style Is Defined By Your Story
- Part III: Let’s Go To The Moon and Back
- Part IV: It’s Not What People See, It’s What They Don’t
The spotlight beams on a white circle situated in the middle of a stylish, yet offbeat ballroom in Seattle, WA. A crowd of about 750 is packed around the circle. Behind them sit a few rows of bleachers, all filled to the brim with antsy spectators waiting for the action to start. Two competitors stare each other down, anticipating their opponent’s first move. Then, like a pair of gladiators fighting for their lives, they engage in battle. The two throw mental jabs and spew non-verbal taunts. Their facial expressions are that of warriors. Warriors whose mannerisms indicate they believe their foe is inferior to them in every conceivable way. The first round passes and the audience grows restless. They’re all here for the same thing — to see these remarkable performers push each other to their limits. The two competitors leave it all on the battlefield in the second round.
No holding back. No saving energy for later. This is their time. They will emerge victorious.
But when the dust settles, the two rivals smile and embrace in a warm hug as they walk out of the circle. This was a battle, sure. But at its core, it was so much more than that.
Welcome to the world of break dancing – or as it’s known in this Seattle ballroom, breaking. It’s a sport. It’s an art form. It’s everything in between. And it’s coming to the Olympics in 2024.
Breaking originated as a form of street dance in the Bronx. The art form has roots in Foundational Black American neighborhoods, but since its inception in the 1970s, breaking has evolved into a global community.
Think of breaking as a dance battle. Two breakers, or b-boys/b-girls as they’re known in the breaking world, compete against one another in what could best be described as a dancing duel. At the competitive level, judges determine the winner of the battle based on a combination of technical prowess and artistic individuality.
It’s a hybrid sport/art form that blends incredible feats of athleticism with creative expression.
I recently had the opportunity to experience the world of breaking firsthand at a regional cypher, or tournament, in Seattle. The Red Bull BC One Northwest Cypher saw 16 b-boys and 16 b-girls compete in a bracket with one winner from each side advancing to the Red Bull BC One Cypher in Los Angeles for an opportunity to compete for a spot in the world finals hosted in New York City later this year.
And with the Olympics on the horizon, the stakes were high.
But why is this world so special? What makes the magnitude of events like the Red Bull BC One Northwest Cypher so awesome? It’s not the technical mastery of the performers or the unbelievable physical stunts executed on the dance floor. Instead, it’s the sense of community that encapsulates this unique corner of the sports world and those who comprise it.
Born Logan Edra, Logistix was one of the designated “BC One All-Stars” who made the trip for the regional cypher. The Red Bull BC One All-Star tour, featuring stops in Austin, New York City, Philadelphia, Orlando, Boston, Chicago, and Seattle, was designed as a way to inspire the next generation of breakers. Logistix and a number of other prominent members of the breaking community, hosted workshops, community jams, panels, and exhibition battles all with the goal of giving back to the community and mentoring future b-boys and b-girls. In many ways, Logistix embodies the world of breaking. She hosted a workshop, free and open to the public, for aspiring breakers the evening before the cypher. People of all shapes and sizes, all ethnicities, ages, and backgrounds, were in attendance. Some looked to be as old as their 40s or 50s while others couldn’t have been any older than 12-15 years old — all of them brought together by this extraordinary, inclusive community.
The workshop room was hot and muggy. Around 20 or so aspiring breakers were piled into a dance studio that wasn’t much larger than your average living room. The dancers were visibly sweating with the humidity clearly getting the better. All except for Logistix who that evening broke moves rather than sweat. It was like she was incapable of getting tired. Effortlessly cool. Her bubbly, energetic personality radiated throughout the room as she talked the novice breakers through different routines.
At one point, Logistix noticed a young girl who was having trouble keeping up with the rest of her peers. She looked unsure of herself, unable or unwilling to express her identity with a collection of relative strangers. Logistix walked over to the girl while everyone was practicing in their own space. She started dancing with her, one-on-one. No words were spoken. Everything that needed to be said was conveyed through her body language. The girl’s face lit up as she started breaking with someone she undoubtedly admired and quite possibly idolized.
A smile didn’t leave that girl’s face for the remainder of the evening.
That’s what breaking culture is all about. It’s about uplifting those around you. It’s about community. It’s about love.
“It’s natural for us to work from a unity-driven place,” Logistix later told me. “During the battle, I’m obviously trying to beat my opponent. But off the floor, it’s all about uplifting others and connecting with each other. That’s the only way we’ll grow.”
She did her best to make everyone at the workshop feel welcome, frequently highlighting those who were really finding their groove while simultaneously encouraging those who seemed a bit insecure.
“I look really stupid right now, but it’s okay,” she exclaimed while demonstrating a particular move.
They were words of reassurance at a time when many in the room likely needed them. She knew how to talk to people, but more importantly, she knew how to communicate with body language. Of course, that shouldn’t come as a surprise seeing as her passion, breaking, ultimately comes down to expressing yourself with your body.
Right there, in that warm and humid dance studio, breaking was bringing people together in more ways than one.
Part 2 of this four-part series will arrive on Tuesday. Be sure to check back then to learn more about the athletes who were at the Red Bull BC One and the cypher’s main event.