Asian Pacific Americans Breakin’ Out

In the last decade, breakdancing – now commonly called “b-boying” or “breaking” – has undergone a radical transformation. What was once considered a style of urban dance performed on the streets of New York is now a true global phenomenon. Major tournaments are held annually around the world, featuring competitors of virtually every imaginable background.

In the Asian American community, as well as in Asia, b-boying has witnessed a tremendous surge in popularity over the last decade thanks to K-pop artists like Rain and Jay Park, who incorporate breaking into their live performances, as well talent competitions like “America’s Best Dance Crew,” which have showcased numerous Asian American groups like JabbaWockeeZ and Quest Crew. 

But there’s another huge factor at play here: the Internet. Meet Daniel Lee, also known as “B-boy Randii,” of New York City-based dance crew Floor Obsessions. Lee was introduced to the world of b-boying in high school when he and his friends would seek out clips on YouTube. “We would watch a video and try to imitate what they were doing,” he recalls. “And if we couldn’t perfectly imitate it, we would sort of figure out our own way of doing the move we saw.” This kind of virtual instruction helped spread breaking culture all over the world, giving aspiring b-boys and girls new ways to hone their skills.

“This was when breakdancing was transitioning from VHS to World Wide Web,” adds fellow Floor Obsession crewmate Tiangi Fan also known as “B-Boy Manji.” “They [Korean breakdancers] were the first ones to come up with tutorials on the World Wide Web to show people how to do these moves.”

As technology and the Internet continue to evolve, so does the Asian b-boy community, both offline and online. Hundreds of clips featuring Asian b-boys and crews are uploaded to YouTube on a monthly basis, which continue to inspire the next generation of breakers.

When out b-boying in New York City, Fan and Lee use their smartphones and a portable speaker – in this case, a red Jawbone MINI JAMBOX – to provide the beats. Check out their moves in this video.

Who are some of your favorite b-boys? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @VZWCameka.