And now I story...
I don’t remember where I picked up the art of Popping, but I think the when was in ’81. The two most likely scenarios are that I saw it on TV or I picked up from kids who moved to our Army Base. At the time I was living in Stuttgart, Germany on the Pattonville Army Base and the latter example is what was happening all the time. It was generally kids coming from the East Coast and educating us on new music, fashion, dances, and things of the sort.
Originally, I was just dabbling in it as a natural progression of being a fan of Hip Hop and Funk music, the soundtrack to the dance. Then a family moved in from North Carolina (I think that was where they were from. Shout out Jamie and Ron!) and with them they brought a move called “The Tick”. I was mystified by it’s choppy nature and how it was reminiscent of the effects of a strobe light, a device that fascinated me some years before. I practiced this move non-stop until I was one of the best in the neighborhood. Around this time I decided I was going to be exploring this dancing thing a bit more, so I got myself a name, Kid Pop Alot.
Then like most other teenage youth who were into Hip Hop and living outside of the New York area we got exposed to what everyone was calling Breakdancing via that short scene with the Rock Steady Crew in the movie Flashdance. Again, I was mesmerized by the styles and techniques. However, I was never particularly athletic, flexible, or, for that matter, coordinated. In fact, this was a point previously expressed to me, on numerous occasions, by my family. Ouch. Before Popping and Breaking, my love for music inspired me to try and learn the hot dances of the day. Luckily, the mid to late 70s gave birth to a few simple dances, like The Rock and The Pony, that required very little talent or dexterity. But, I even made those look a little stiff and awkward. When the later 70s came around, The Freak and some other dances that required some arm & leg coordination, I was at a loss. My Sister and my Dad would try to walk me through them step by step, but try as I might, I could not get it right. A point they were open to informing me of…we are open like that in my family, I applaud this.
That in mind, when I set my sights on Breaking, I knew I was going to be limited in my options. I had lots of passion, but I lacked the patience and discipline to train my body to get flexible, exercise to build strength and things like that. This was the same issue I had with Martial Arts. I went to one class and found out all we did was stretch and exercise the whole time (at least in that first class) and never went back. I was ready to be sparring day one…ha.
However, I didn’t mind practicing, I wasn’t lazy, just focused on the glory and not the path to get there. That attitude was enough to help me learn some decent footwork with a few sweeps and basic moves that I don’t think anyone does anymore. I wanted to have a few specialty moves in the arsenal, but I couldn’t even pull off a decent Backspin. Instead I opted for a Kneespin. I was aware that it wasn’t as glamorous as the Backspin, so I had to create an illusion. I would do some Top Rocking and then lift my left leg to the back of my right kneecap, as if to push it in, and drop to the floor on my knee, then spin around and up like a top and then drop right back down to the knee for the spin. That gave it some flavor.
That still wasn’t enough. I needed one more trick. I learned that I could do a pretty decent Handspin, which was actually a well-received move at the time…it got nice cheers. I still decided I needed to add that extra flair. I would do some Top Rock and actually spring into the air and land on my wrist in the Handspin position (elbo pressed against the stomach for balance) and go into an immediate spin. It was a fairly decent move and I had never seen anyone else do it.
Now armed with some decent basics and three power moves; The Tick, The Spinning Top Kneespin, and The Spring Into Action Handspin*, I was able to have a pretty respectable Breaking “career”, as long as I always had a new audience. It hit its peak in 1985 when after moving to Fort Riley, KS I joined the youth center’s Fort Riley Breaking Patrol. We traveled around for competitions, did Watch-Us-Break-While-You-Wait Car Washes, performed for different groups (Officers Wives Club and at a Correctional Facility), etc… Plus got articles/interviews in the local paper and in Soldier Magazine.
Those were great times and helped me learn a lot about leadership, organizing, promoting, and marketing. Even though I had my smoke and mirrors tricks and got my props I never fell under the illusion that I was a great Breaker, I merely worked the right angles, so to speak. So, when I moved to North Chicago, IL in ’86 and the Breaking craze was starting to die down (unfortunately), I took that opportunity to shift my focus to MCing. Plus later that year I got my first Drum Machine, so I was starting to dabble in the world of production.
However, I continued to be a fan and was amazed at how the artform continued to grow and impressed with the advanced techniques that were constantly being developed. Sometimes when I’m watching a cipher I hear that voice in my back of the head telling me to jump in and do something for old times sake, but I catch myself. If the urge gets to strong I can always rely on my constant pain in my wrist and really unreliable knees to remind that it’s a bad idea. Apparently, the price of a little praise for a few years was the cost of eternal pain in key limbs. I probably should have not been too cool to stretch, exercise, and respect the fraility of the body.
In any event, I imagine it is my history on the dancefloor that served as my training ground to tune my ear for being a DJ for the B-boys and B-Girls of today. I will get to test that theory each month, along side DJ King Otto, with our new all vinyl, B-Boy/B-Girl musically appropriate night at Ginger Hop titled Backspin!! Third Saturday Each Month starting December 15th, 2012…
Let’s take it to the floor.
Written By Kevin Beacham a.k.a Kid Pop Alot....with a sore wrist not enjoying cold weather...
*No, these aren’t the actually names I had for these moves…ha