How to B-Boy

Have you ever heard of B-Boy? Perhaps you’re more familiar with the term “break-dancing,” which is another name for this unique style of dance. In this article, we’ll teach you about the history of the B-Boy dance style and how to pull off a few B-Boy moves yourself. Howcast is your source for all things dance, with free video lessons on how to perform the most popular dance moves. Here’s how to B-Boy dance!

History of B-Boy

B-Boying originated in the Bronx, where Kool Herc—often labeled the Father of Hip Hop—would throw huge block parties with loud music. People would come from all around to attend these parties, where Kool Herc’s unique spin on music really got B-Boying started.

Because this style of dance usually happens during the “break” of a song, the people who danced during this break were called “break boys,” or “B-Boys.” These dancers were typically in their early teen years, full of energy and creativity.

It wasn’t until 1981 that B-Boying really took off, though. This is the year that a B-Boy competition was televised from the Lincoln Center and when the dance style came to be known as “break-dancing.” From this point forward, B-Boy grew in popularity outside the Bronx. Today, people all over the world are still digging the B-Boy style. You can too!

B-Boy Footwork Basics

B-boy footwork involves getting down on the floor once you’re done top-rocking. Your legs and feet will be kind of kicking around, and you’ll do a lot of maneuvering with your hands and hips. We know you’re excited to learn B-Boy foot work basics. As you get started, here are a few key points to keep in mind:

  • You should move quickly and with momentum.
  • It’s important not to let your butt droop! It can help to pretend that you’re sitting in a chair. Keep that butt up!
  • Make sure to incorporate your hips.

How to Do B-Boy Power Moves

Now for the real fun! Once you have the basic footwork down, you can start practicing B-Boy power moves. In this section, we’ll briefly cover how to do some of the most popular power moves, including:

  • Windmills
  • Cali Whip Backspin
  • Swipes
  • Handglides

Here’s a breakdown of each power move:

Windmills

The Windmill is the most basic B-Boy power move. It is often used to lead into other, more complex moves. If you only learn one power move today, it should be the Windmill.

Starting Position

Start in the Baby position.

The Moves

From your starting position, do a semi-handglide. Only tap once for momentum. You’ll be going from one shoulder to the next shoulder.

Once you get to your second shoulder, you’re going to push off with your right arm to get onto your hands. If you’re struggling with this part, you can use your head to get that extra momentum.

Your legs should be in the air. You’re going to just kick your legs a little bit. Start by kicking your left leg under. Then put your head down and glide to your shoulder.

Remember

Hand -> Shoulder -> Shoulder -> Hand

Cali Whip Backspin

There are two basic backspins in B-Boy. The Cali Whip Backspin is the easiest. As a beginner, you’ll probably want to learn this one first.

Starting Position

You’ll begin by kind of sitting on your bum, keeping one of your legs straight and the other bent. Which leg you keep straight depends on which hand you’ll use for baiting. If you use your left hand for baiting, keep your left leg straight, and vice-versa. For this example, we’ll say that your left leg is straight and the right leg bent.

The Moves

Whip your right leg straight up. At the same time as you whip your leg, your forearm is going to come down. Your leg is going to go all the way around, like a helicopter, and you’ll use the hand of that forearm to push off the floor.

Once you get the hang of this basic motion, try with your legs closed instead of open. To do this, lie so that the middle of your spine is on the floor, and use your hands to pull your legs together. just put your legs together—use your hands to pull them together in the position we just described.

Remember

Whip, down, push.

Swipes

Swipes are another simple B-Boy power move. These moves are a lot of fun once you get the hang of it. Here are the basics.

Starting Position

To start, you’ll be leaning back toward the floor with your legs bent and open, waist up, and one hand on the ground. Keep in mind that your palm be touching the ground, only your fingertips. Your other hand should be up in the air.

The Moves

From your starting position, you’re going to jump so that your legs and waist are in the air. Jump as high as you can, using your grounded hand as support. Before continuing, you may want to practice this part a few times.

Now, you’re going to jump—and then turn. Jump just like you did before, but this time, turn to your right while you’re in the air. Again, this is tricky, so you may want to do this a few times before continuing.

Once you’re comfortable with the initial turn, you’re going to jump and turn all the way around. Twist the same way you did before, but keep going so that you go all the way around.

Remember

It’s crucial when doing Swipes that you jump first. It’s tempting to twist and then jump, but that takes the magic out of the move. Remember: Jump -> Twist.

Handglides

Handglides are so cool to watch and even cooler to do yourself. Here’s how to do them.

Starting Position

To start, you’ll be in a position similar to the Baby Freeze. You’ll be holding yourself off the floor.

The Moves

Make sure your elbows are at a 90-degree angle. Keep your head up, not down.

From there, you’re going to lift your legs off the ground. Your legs should be open, not closed. The key here is to find balance; don’t move forward with the next steps until you’ve gotten the hang of this.

To “glide,” you’re going to put your left elbow into your stomach as a balance support, and use your other hand to push the floor so you spin.

Remember

It’s optional, but you may find handglides easier to do with a handglide glove. This will keep your “support” hand in better shape.

Before We Move On…

The most important thing to remember is that each of these moves is going to take time to master. We know you want to be windmilling and handgliding like crazy by tomorrow, but that’s not how it works.

Be patient with yourself, and keep trying. If you make a few mistakes along the way—which you absolutely will!—it’s just part of the learning process. Don’t be too hard on yourself, and just focus on continuing to improve.

Now, let’s move on to the other major move set for B-Boy dancing: freezes!

How to Do B-Boy Freezes

You can think of the freeze as the end or conclusion to your dance, though you can also do a freeze mid-dance for some extra flair. There are four basic types of B-Boy freezes you should learn: Baby, Reverse Baby, Chair and Reverse Chair.

It’s important to go through these in order, as the Baby Freeze is a key position in all other freezes and even some power moves.

Baby

  • Put your left elbow into the left side of your stomach. (Your right hand will be used for balance.)
  • Going down, make sure that your left elbow is at a 90-degree angle.
  • Put weight onto your wrist, but make sure the weight distributes evenly throughout your fingers.
  • Put your left temple on the floor, and keep your legs open.
  • Put your right knee onto your right elbow.
  • Lift up your left leg.

Reverse Baby

  • Start the same way you did for the Baby Freeze.
  • Put your left elbow into your hip, where there’s a little socket.
  • Put your right elbow onto your left knee.
  • From there, lean onto your hands, putting your left temple onto the floor.

Alternatively, you can simply do the Baby Freeze, and then switch your legs so that your left knee touches your right elbow.

Chair

  • Start in the Baby Freeze position.
  • From here, pick up your waist and put your elbow into your back.
  • Your legs will switch, like in the Reverse Baby, but here you’ll also be twisting from your stomach to your back.
  • To finish, your left leg will cross over onto your right knee.

Reverse Chair

  • Start in the Chair Freeze position.
  • Take your left leg off of your right knee, and put it onto the floor.
  • Now put your right leg onto your left knee.
  • To keep your balance, make sure that the weight in your fingers is distributed evenly.

How to Freestyle

Even if you’re an absolute beginner, there’s nothing keeping you from freestyling. In freestyle, the most important thing is to make yourself comfortable. Start with a one- or two-step, loosen up, and get in the zone. Freestyle is all about dancing and moving your body however you want to. Just get out there and have some fun!

Of course, you’ll have a better time freestyling once you’ve learned how to do some of the basic B-Boy dance moves above. Freestyle is where you’re able to play and experiment with the moves you’ve learned and show off a little. Here are some tips to keep in mind:

Top Rock

  • Use side-to-side movements.
  • Add some flair with your shoulders.
  • Don’t be afraid of some up-and-down action.

Footwork

  • Stick with something simple, like a three- or six-step.
  • Do what’s comfortable for you.

Conclusion

We hope you found this B-Boy dancing guide helpful. With these moves in your arsenal, you should be ready to get out there and start practicing. For more practical, detailed lessons on B-Boying and other dance styles, explore Howcast’s collection of free dance videos.

ABOUT THE EXPERT

Victor Alicea

Victor Alicea aka KID GLYDE first learned the art of breaking from his father, B-Boy legend Glyde of the Dynamic Rockers as well as the equally legendary B-Boy Kid Freeze. He is also influenced by K’Mel, B-Boy Ivan, Storm, and his crew, The Dynamic Rockers. He has taken titles at major battles including Universal Zulu Nation B-Boy/B-Girl Throwdown, the Rock Steady Crew Anniversary Against the Grain Concrete B-Boy/B-Girl Battles, and he won the Euro Battle 2009 with his crew. KID GLYDE has received endorsements with brands such as Panic and Sneak Tip and has appeared in “Step Up 2, “Ste up Up 3”, “Bumper”, “Pressure”, and the B-Boy documentary, “All Out War.” Additionally, KID GLYDE frequently organizes B-Boy/B-Girl battles in NYC.