Breakdancing: The Anarchic Game Paradox

Can a battle be considered a game? Can an all-out war be confined to a specific time and space? Can two parties with competing interests agree to play by the rules? Most people consider games to exist only in controlled, structured environments. However, I would argue that games can even be found in the most anarchic settings.

Credit to Seis Del Sur at the Bronx Documentary Center.

Credit to Seis Del Sur Company.

One game that most people do not know about in modern-day society is b-boy, or breakdance, battles. The term “b-boy” stands for “break-boy”, meaning dancers would dance to specific breaks in the beats and match his/her movements to the up-tempo tracks. B-boying is a very dynamic, acrobatic style of dance that was created from the ground up in the Bronx, New York. In the late 1970s and early 1980s it was a movement that spawned itself in areas of low socioeconomic status. Our nation suffered from a severe recession in 1982. The poor state of the economy made hopelessness spread like an infection, especially in lower income neighborhoods. Out of that despondency, an unexpected art form was birthed. There was so much energy in the young generation that needed to be expressed and thus b-boying was established. The dance is competitive in nature because it finds its origins in gang violence. Gang membership and criminal activity were at an all-time high in the 80s, and b-boying actually played a large role in stopping unnecessary bloodshed. Some say that the dance was a miracle because it took the kids off the streets and gave them hope for the future. The breaking culture was a positive influence because it promoted peace, unity, love and having fun.

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