Bboys: A History of Breakdance

S1 E4 | FULL EPISODE

Berlin Break Tour With Storm

Breakdancing, which started in the Bronx block party scene over 40 years ago, has become a global phenomenon. This series travels to New York, Berlin, Paris, and Seoul to see how the next generation of dancers is pushing the genre to new heights.

AIRED: July 14, 2021 | 0:11:10
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TRANSCRIPT

[ Up-tempo music playing ]

♪♪

Man: [ Echoing ] B-boys!

Woman: ♪ Break

♪ Break

♪ Break

♪♪

♪♪

♪♪

When I started dancing, you see,

everybody's gotta realize that we adopted the dance,

you know?

It's not like in the United States in the Bronx,

you know, where people growing up with it,

you know, with this whole dance culture and everything.

We adopted it, and that makes a big difference.

At that time, we had no idea about the term.

We had no idea about this dance that they were doing.

♪♪

It was always some American thing,

and everything that was coming from America was new,

was hip, was the best thing that could happen to us,

'cause when you look at the history,

especially when you look at German history,

I grew up after the war.

I'm born in '69.

So I'm not, like, direct -- directly war generation.

See, but my parents -- they still witnessed the war.

I remember that in my generation,

whatever was considered German was just purely bad,

just everything, you know, like, you could connect

to what happened in the war.

So we kind of, like --

we totally lost our identity in Germany.

And when hip-hop came around, you know,

and it was developed by Afro-Americans and by Latinos,

it was the perfect thing because, you know,

once you got into this thing, then, of course,

there was no connection to be made with the past of Germany.

But you could develop yourself freely.

And that's what it was all about.

We were, you know -- it was a blessing.

♪♪

So we went step by step.

At first, you know, I became, like,

the little neighborhood hero, you know, in dance.

Then after that, you know, like, we had our first manager.

He got us shows here and there, you know -- now, regional.

I became, like, a little superstar.

♪♪

"The Guinness Book of Records," which I did,

and the most beautiful thing about it,

that on that day, a lot of people

came together that heard about it,

because it was on the press, right, all over the place --

you know, TV reports, this and that, you know.

So everybody wanted to be part of this thing.

And, of course, you know,

it brought the breaking community in north Germany --

it brought them together.

So I saw a crew that I've never seen before,

which was the Fantastic Devils from Kiel,

and then my later-on all-time lifetime dance partner,

Swift Rock.

He was part of the crew at that time.

And right after my "Guinness Book of Records"

world record in windmill, we battled.

We had a lot of fun, you know?

Like, we got to know each other.

And later on, Swift Rock became part of my crew.

♪♪

♪♪

By the year '85, almost everybody stopped,

and we were only, like,

some single guys that still continued.

We went to clubs and we danced.

People were laughing at us and they said,

"Hey, look, this thing is played out.

Why are you still spinning on your head?

Stop it."

But I love the dance so much that I just had to continue.

It felt so good.

So my partner, Swift Rock, and me --

we started traveling.

First, Switzerland.

After that, France, Belgium, Denmark,

Sweden, and so on and on.

And what's beautiful about it, really --

that it got culturally manifested,

that it was not a fashion anymore,

and nobody, nobody could bring us down

and say, "Okay, this thing is played out.

It's over now."

Because we could say, "No, no, no.

People are dancing all over the place.

It's everywhere. It's up and developing."

[ Dance music playing ]

For a long time, when people were looking at me

or when they heard about the name Storm,

they thought about head spins.

It was the head spin [laughs] that got me really famous.

♪♪

♪♪

What happened was I was dancing all day.

Every day, all day, I was dancing,

and at some point I realized that when I do head spins,

I could chill.

It wasn't hard to do it.

You stand on your head, you can relax.

That's what's so beautiful about that move.

♪♪

Then I found out how good it would be

to always use that head spin

in transition for other moves

so your combinations, whatever you were doing was --

they were getting longer and longer.

[ Dance music playing ]

♪♪

When the first competition happened that was organized by

Thomas Hergenrother in Hanover --

that's when Battle of the Year was born.

So the first Battle of the Year was held in '91.

And then Thomas explicitly invited us -- as Battle Squad --

he invited us if we wanted to participate.

We said, "All right. Fair enough.

Let's do this. Let's see what's going on."

So we participated. We got first place.

What we didn't like about it is that already there

we found out that if you dance against a crew,

back in the days, it was pretty personal.

All of a sudden we became somehow a bit of enemies.

Of course, since we were such good friends,

we talked about it, and we said, "Oh...

We're not gonna do that again."

So we're not gonna participate in Battle of the Year again.

We did it once.

We found out that it's not really good for culture,

in that matter, and so we wanted to stop.

The year after, Swift and me --

we only came to Battle of the Year

because we wanted to watch.

But when we heard some guys,

especially guys from the jury, already saying,

"Oh, we already know who's gonna win,"

and then close friends of us,

when we told them that we were not going to participate,

they were like, "What? You're gonna chicken out?

What's happening to you guys?"

You know, like, "What? You think, you know,

because Second to None's out there, you know,

that you're gonna lose now? Come on.

What's wrong with you guys?"

You know, it made us so upset.

It made us so upset, and we said, like,

"Look, you know what?

Eff you right now.

You know, it's like, "Watch this."

[ Dance music playing ]

♪♪

You know, so Swift and me -- we were getting ready.

I remember Swift had, like, some tight corduroy pants on,

and they were too tight for dancing.

So Swift asked for some scissors,

and he cut off his pants

[laughing] so he was dancing in shorts and stuff.

We weren't ready for anything, so those were the days.

You could be spontaneous like that, you know?

So we got into the finals against Rock Steady Family,

and it was just Swift on me against eight guys.

[ Cheering ]

So then when sometimes, you know, they did three solos,

we would come in, and we would do

as much as they did.

Whatever we found was evocative in their solos,

we put it into our stuff, did our interpretation,

and put it all together.

[ Cheering ]

And then after, like, I think, 10 to 12 minutes,

the battle lasted,

and then the judges decided that we won.

So for us, it was all cool and peace.

[ Cheering ]

When we hear "battle," it's one of these

exaggerated terms that we use in hip-hop

to really make a statement, to really come through.

What do you mean, "battle"? "Battle."

Who's battling who? Of course, is not a real battle.

But, you know, it's like...

you know, you battle somebody,

it's not you don't like that person.

You have to develop a certain empathy, you know,

to understand and respect that person to the extent

to even accept that battle.

[ Hip-hop music playing ]

Oh, that's the jam!

Ooh! -Nice!

I went to New York for the very first time in 1991,

nobody dancing anymore.

There was one person who was really still active

and who was living a b-boy life, was Kwikstep.

While we were there, we organized a practice --

72nd Street Studios.

What was really nice was the first time

that I met Crazy Legs.

And Mr. Wiggles was their clown, was there,

was already dancing with us on the street and stuff.

And then later on a dance company was formed

which was called Ghettoriginal,

which I happened to be part of as well.

It was beautiful.

From that moment on, whatever I did in New York

and whatever I did, you know, was well-received.

And everybody, I guess, was happy

that there was a representative from Europe

that showed that this lineage continued.

There were no boundaries.

There were no borders where you could say, like,

"Okay, all right, but we are from this nation,

and we are from that country," and so on and on.

Hip-hop was international, and that was the spirit.

So we all got connected. We all had the same passion.

So, you know, like, through that passion,

we got together as one, basically.

[ Hip-hop music playing ]

♪♪

Whenever somebody provided a stage for me, I took it,

to express myself in a manner where I could

really express the art form, the art form itself.

And if you really want to express yourself

in the right manner

and you really want to put something together

that explains the entire semantics of your art form,

then a black-box theater is the right place.

♪♪

I went in a certain direction where I know that some people,

they might not agree with me with what I did.

But what I do on stage is always where I say,

"Look, this is my art form now.

It's my art form. This is what I do.

And it's deeply rooted, deeply rooted,

in this urban development in hip-hop."

And it's very important to me because what hip-hop gave to me,

I want to give back to hip-hop.

♪♪

♪ B-boy

♪♪

♪♪

♪ Ooh

♪♪

♪ Ooh

♪♪

♪ B-boys

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