Break dancing is back (minus the parachute pants). A renaissance of popping, locking, uprocking, head spins, robotic jams, phat flips, and contorted poses. Truth be told, the energetic street dance that busted out of the Bronx decades ago never really left -- it was shuffled out of the fickle consumer spotlight of American mainstream is all (remember Beat Street?), quickly obscured by a more easily commodifiable, often more negative, aspect of hip-hop: rap.
At least that's what breaker Speedy Legs will passionately expound on for anyone willing to listen: "Once I get into somebody who wants to know about what the dance is, I start talking, yapping, and it's hard to stop me," laughs the 35-year-old, who grew up Richard Fernandez in Hialeah. "The most powerful message it has is what it does to the youth," he says. "It just captures them." The veteran break dancer (b-boy), MC, and DJ has been fairly unstoppable not only verbally but also physically, representing break dancing as a competitive art form and sport -- teaching kids at the Hollywood Police Athletic League, forming the company Hip-Hop Elements, hosting regular break dance "Roc-Athons" at South Beach's 21st Street Recreation Center, and organizing for the past five years, along with partner Zulu Gremlin, the B-boy Masters Pro-Am conference, which hits Miami Beach this week.
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According to Speedy Legs, the five days of nonstop performances, workshops, competitions, and a graffiti show also capture a diverse local, national, and international crowd of about 1000 dancers, MCs, and DJs -- even from places such as Japan, New Zealand, and Nashville. Old-schoolers who will be on hand include Ken Swift of New York's break dance Rock Steady Crew; hip-hop icon Afrika Bambaataa of "Planet Rock" fame; and Don Campellock, a Seventies Soul Train regular and inventor of the "lock dance." Speedy Legs measures success in continuity: "I've had people that have come to the event, like older people and some artists, and they say, Damn! Hip-hop still lives.'"