By Jacob Katel
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While Mex said USC collectively reps the 954, several members live in Dade and even as far away as Orlando. This distance allows for plenty of personal practice, which Mex said he does between five and seven times a week. "That's all you think about," he said. "You're in school, you want to practice. You're at work, you think about it."
The average age of the crew is nineteen, and it has twelve members: Mex, Non MS, Felix, Fantum, Groove Nom, Spee-D, Squid, Namek, Strider, Popcorn, Trigger, and Rival. Namek, Squid, and Trigger are the founders, and there were originally around ten to fifteen members. After a majority of the crew quit, there were five: Namek, Squid, Trigger, Felix, and Mex. Spee-D, who is from Orlando, joined in February of 2002. Then in June, twins Strider and Groove Nom joined (coincidentally, Namek and Squid are also twins). In January '03, Fantum joined, and later that summer Non MS added his popping and locking skills to the team. (Surely you know the "Robot" move made famous in the Eighties. If not, please go rent Breakin'.) Seventeen-year-old Popcorn is, naturally, also a popper, and regarded as one of the best in America.
With that many unique styles in one crew, you can imagine the pressure at a battle. "There used to be a lot of rivalry here, but it's getting better," Mex said. "The scene used to be rough, but the younger b-boys seem to just want to have fun -- no beef, no drama."
Mex cited the jams he's thrown across Florida, such as Outbreak and Civil Warz, as a source of the change in attitude and camaraderie among b-boys.
"I just do the jams to bring Florida together, and the younger crews decided to participate," he said. "I'm bringing people from out of state too."
USC has done some damage in and out of Florida. They won first place at Pro-Am in Miami, Breaklanta in Atlanta, and 3 the Hard Way in North Carolina, and placed at Spinfactor in Boston and B-boy City 10 in Texas. This weekend, Mex is putting on a jam called Yo! Pack It Up! The winners go to Rhode Island to represent Florida in the Spinfactor National Championship Finals.
The possibility of breaking becoming a mainstream commodity is very real; ESPN has started televising b-boy competitions, bringing local and national crews into the spotlight. Pop tartress Christina Aguilera featured b-boys in a recent video. Then there are urban dance movies like You Got Served, in which dancers battled with choreographed hip-hop video moves, taking out the grit and creativity of old-school breaking. Mex thinks the current state of hip-hop music is more to blame for that. "People think hip-hop is bling and spinners," he said. "In reality, it's not like that. It's about b-boying, graffiti, MCing, and DJing. I rarely listen to hip-hop -- unless it's the real stuff -- but I listen to the Cure, Radiohead, and Depeche Mode, too."
While USC continues to defy stereotypes, as well as gravity, Mex declared he's not nervous about breaking going mainstream. As long as there's a floor, he and his crew will be down.