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International popularity soared from South Korea to Brazil, but what tied this culture together?The shared ‘vernacular’ of the culture created a sense of unity among B-boys regardless of their country.The commodification, commercialization, and dissemination of the “classic B-boy image” disassociated any specific identity markers with the B-boy and assimilated the image of B-boying into the teenage market (Kong 2010). B-boying is what you do and who you are, not how you dress” (2010).
B-boys often traveled across borders to learn from one another and compete in street battles – a core element of the B-boy culture.
In street battles, dancers compete against one another in a cypher (circles of people gathered around the dancers); they are, then, judged on musicality, skill, and creativity.
By the mid-1980s to 1990s, Hip-Hop rose to mass popularity and gained substantial media exposure from artists such as Public Enemy and Run DMC.
Additionally, films such as Wild Style, Beat Street, and more popularly known, Flash Dance, placed b-boying more prominently on the global mainstream stage.
What’s more, Latinos were central to the foundation of B-boying and “breaking” as an art form, in particular, further ingraining the “global” element of Hip-Hop and B-boying.
The B-boy world functioned as a counterculture – an escape – from the traditionally oppressive society that members encountered on a daily basis.However, the dawn of the Internet did not only beckon in negative effects for the B-boying community; social media brought a new creative outlet for artistic expression and communication.You Tube and other social media platforms allowed for conversations between B-boys around the world, resulting in a global exchange of knowledge, perspective, and subcultural capital.Through these battles, B-boys established subcultural capital and developed bonds, ultimately tying the individuals and the dance to something deeper than location.“It’s all about the music,” or rather, it’s all about how the music is “mediated, negotiated, and competed over” in the various B-boy arenas (Fogarty 2011).The judges on dance shows and sensationalized B-boy crews “[played] a crucial role in authenticating street dance for the American public and in shaping the American dance aesthetic” (Kong 2010).This led to the establishment of a specific image and ideology of B-boy in the American mind, discrediting the diversity within the culture and instilling a distinct mold that B-boys, at times, struggled to fit.Hip-Hop, and subsequently B-boying, incorporated related art and musical forms from Afro-Caribbean, African American, and Latino neighborhoods of the Bronx (Schloss 2009).The “Holy Trinity” of Hip-Hop music, DJ Kool Herc, Afrika Bambaataa, and Grandmaster Flash (two with Caribbean roots), all played a central role in the development of Hip-Hop at this time, bringing with them the over-dubbing of Reggae and Caribbean sound systems.As a B-boy, dancers felt empowered and liberated from the stigma and stereotyping they faced as a result of their race and/or ethnicity (Fasting, Kari, and Langnes 2014).Despite the primarily minority-centric ethos of Hip-Hop and B-boying, this subculture rapidly spread throughout New York City as a well-recognized form of expression.