It has been around for some time now; it has its own rules, language and culture. Chances are, you probably never knew about it. It’s the breakdancing club at UC Davis.
If you have never heard of breakdance, otherwise known as b-boying, it is a form of popular style of street dance which combines elements of the hip hop culture. The dance style developed in New York in the ’70s where informal dance battles on the streets would take place.
The UCD Breakdancing Club started nearly five years ago by students. The founding members found themselves barred from dancing in public places. After going through the petition process, the club became official and dancers were given a space to move and be free. The club is now in the hands of senior Japanese and communication major Laurence Bacud and junior biotechnology major Jake Zieve.
As of now, the club is an informal and casual one – meaning any one can join or show up at any time, although there are certain unofficial conditions one must adhere to.
“[Newcomers] have to be willing to learn from other people, you have to ask, have to be active in what you want, you can’t be passive,” Zieve said.
When one enters the breaking community one will find a number of terms and definitions needed to operate amongst other B-boys and B-girls. Any newcomer will be quick to learn about “biting”. Biting is defined as taking or stealing any other dancer’s moves and this is something breakdancers of all skill sets do.
Senior exercise biology major Lani Fung, also known as The Gymnast for her particular dancing style, advises that one should avoid biting unless they want drama.
“Cyphering” is another term easily picked-up once one enters into the world of breaking. A “Cypher” is usually when a group of dancers form a circle around any two dancers who must show their skills and moves within this circle. A dancer can find themselves in a one-on-one battle in a cypher, albeit in a relaxed and casual way where there is nothing really at stake besides a dancer’s potential credibility. It is also advised to never bite during a cypher.
The last and most important part of breaking is musicality. Musicality is as defined by members in the club as a way to feel the beat of the song. A dancer has to move to the beat and timing of a song as well as just feel the music. For co-president Bacud, musicality is the most philosophical aspect of breaking where a dancer has to be in tune with a specific song.
“The dance has to hit the idiosyncrasies of the song,” Bacud said. “It’s more than moving; it’s where it becomes more of a dance and a dance form.”
The UCD Breakdancing Club has performed and won at the Davis Dance Revolution (DDR), a campuswide dance competition that has taken place during Picnic Day, two years in a row. The club won their first time in the dance supergroup category with other Davis dancing teams Mobility and Popping Club. For the 2011 DDR, the Breakdancing Club received first place along with the $1000 prize.
Although DDR is taken seriously and the club trains rigorously for, it is only a small aspect of the club.
“[DDR] is not the sole reason the club exists,” Bacud said. “Performing in front of 1000 people, a sold out crowd, what other time do you get that opportunity? We put on a great show, everyone loves it and members get to bond during the hardships.”
While certain events are taken seriously, breaking is most importantly about fun and self-expression for the club members.
“[It’s] much like writing a poem, instead of words, you’re portraying yourself through song, in an infinite way you take the music and do what you’re feeling” Zieve said.
UCD Breakdancing Club meets and practices at the ARC Pavilion every Monday and Wednesday from 10 p.m. to midnight. Their practices are open to those willing to learn. To find out more about the breakdancing culture and community, watch the 2007 documentary Planet B-Boy. To find about upcoming events and all things break dancing check the website www.bboy.org/forums/event-listings/.
Rudy Sanchez can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.