B-boying in Sneakers

31 03 2010

The late 70s in New York City saw the emergence of hip hop culture.  While the culture is composed of four elements, I would like to focus on one in particular, breaking or b-boying.  I believe this component is relevant to the discussion of sneakers because of its strong influences.

Breaking is a street style of dance that is danced to mostly hip hop music, often remixed to prolong the musical breaks.  The dance techniques of breaking include toprock, downrock, power moves, and freezes/suicides.  Sneakers became associated with b-boying because those who participated in the dance chose to wear them for their comfort.  Thus, it became a standard to wear sneakers for those breaking.  It was that standard and those individuals participating in breaking that was responsible for making sneakers a staple style.  Others took notice to what the “hip” people wore.

*Example of the style of dance.  If you look close, you can spot Puma sneakers on some dancers.

Among popular sneakers for breaking was the Puma sneaker brand.  Not only were they comfortable to dance in but they came in different flashy colors, making sneakers the focal point of an individual’s attire.  This influence made sneakers desirable to many people because it gave them a sense of style and individuality to express themselves freely.  During those rough times of the late 70s in the inner city, many individuals found an outlet through freely expressing themselves, and sneakers allowed them to do so.  This led way to a wide adoption of sneakers and the beginning of a subculture into itself.

Puma sneakers that were popularized by b-boying.

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