New York City Breakers
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Michael Holman, a filmmaker who produce and directed the first Hip Hop film, “Catch Beat” in 1981, promoted parties in Downtown Manhattan at a night club called "Negril," an East Village club on 2nd Ave. and 12th Street. Legendary graffiti artist/pioneer Phase II created the flyers for these Hip Hop nights. Holman also screened "Catch A Beat" for background visual entertainment. The featured breakdancers/B-Boys, and the true highlight of the night, were the Rock Steady Crew. Wanting to see a real B-Boy battle, played out for a Downtown audience Holman asked Crazy Legs, Rock Steady's leader, to find and invite another B-Boy crew to Negril for a real throwdown. Crazy Legs decided to invite the Floor Masters, a crew they had battled a few weeks before, at a hostile Jam in a High School in the Bronx. Ironically, the two battling crews had to join together, to fight their way out of the Jam when the crowd turned against both of them. This incident created a lasting friendship and respect between these dance crews. During the Negril Floormasters/RSC Battle, Holman was amazed by the newcomers' dancing abilities. Where the Rock Steady Crew dazzled the crowd with their dancing and rhythm, The Floor Masters wowed everyone, especially Holman, with their speed and power and athleticism. Inspired, Holman, with the encouragement, and then later, help and guidance of Phase II, decided to create a new, all-star, super B-Boy crew, that specialized in power and speed, and build the crew with The Floor Masters as the foundation, and it was Phase II, with his genius for words, who came up with the name, The New York City Breakers. But not only did Phase II name the crew and convince Holman to create the crew in the first place, Phase II was instrumental in helping Holman get the NYCBs on their first TV show appearance on The Merv Griffin Show, as well as lending moral, intellectual, recruiting and creative support to Holman and the crew itself.
Holman worked with Chino Lopez, the leader of The Floor Masters, and visionary himself, on finding and recruiting new members (as well as shedding old members of the Floor Masters who didn't have the power, speed and finesse Holman wanted) to build The New York City Breakers. Chino told Holman about a one in a million dancer who would really make the crew a force to contend with. This mystery dancer turned out to be Tony Lopez (AKA Powerful Pexter) who was everything Chino promised as a dancer and more. With the Pexter's power moves extraordinaire (some credit Pex with being the greatest Old School B-Boy who ever rocked a floor), Chino's (AKA Action)the master of neck moves, Noel Manguel's (AKA Kid Nice) unique head glides, Mathew Caban's (AKA Glide Master) unbelievable fist glides, Lil' Lep, a head spin master, the NYC Breakers were born. Soon after, Lil' Lep introduced his friend, Bobby Potts (AKA, Flip Rock), who's flips and footwork instantly put into the crew, and after adding Tony Draughon (AKA Mr. Wave), the NYC Breakers became one of the most famous and influential B-Boy Crews in the world.
The first performance as the NYCBs was on the nationally televised show called The Merv Griffin Show. Soon after, the NYCBs began appearing on everything from Soul Train, Ripley's Believe It or Not!, P.M. Magazine, CBS Evening News, Good Morning America, Amnesty International Gala, That's Incredible!, and NBC's Salute to the Olympics just to name a few. Sixteen Candles, Beat Street, The Freshest Kids, and are some of the noteworthy feature films they appeared in as well a cameo in Body Rock.
The NYCBs appeared on the first ever Hip Hop TV show called Graffiti Rock, were featured in the book entitle "Breaking and The New York City Breakers", published in the fall of 1984 by Freundlich Books, and released an Album Break-Master Featuring New York City Breakers that went Gold with Posters and array of how to break steps, but are best known as the first ever Hip Hop group and/or artists to perform in Washington D.C for a sitting President, specifically Ronald Reagan, during the 1984, "Kennedy Center Honors." The performance was broadcast nationally on CBS, and is considered a landmark for the acceptance of Hip Hop culture in America. While performing in tribute to legendary choreographer, and Kenndy Center Honoree Katherine Dunham at the Kennedy Center Honors, the NYCBs befriended Frank Sinatra, (also an Honoree that year) who was so impressed by the NYCBs, he hired them back to perform for the 50th Presidential Inaugural Gala, which Sinatra was the organizing Chairman.
The NYCBs were one of the first Hip Hop/B-Boy crews, that helped spread Hip Hop culture around the globe, touring and performing for Presidents, world leaders and royalty (including England's Price Andrew and the King and Queen of Norway), they will always be remembered as crucial pioneers of Hip Hop Culture.
At the height of The NYCBs fame, Matthew Caban (Glide Master) died in a motorcycle accident.
The five original NYCBs
- Chino "Action" Lopez
- Noel "Kid Nice" Mangual
- Matthew "Glide Master" Caban
- Tony "Powerful Pexster" Lopez
- Ray "Lil Lep" Ramos
- Bobby "Flip Rock" Potts
- Corey "Icey Ice" Montalvo
- Alex "Lil Alex" Roman
- Tony "Mr. Wave" Draughon
- Vincent "Prince Vince" Gallo
- London "B-Boy London" Reyes
- Luis "Alien Ness" Martinez
- Mitchell "B-Boy Speedy" Martinez
- Peter "Bam Bam" Arizmendi
- Edgardo "Kamikaze" Encarnacion
- Takahiro" ENGIN#9" Fujita