Let’s talk some more about this.
I realize that Breakdancing has morphed into something truly spectacular with today’s dancers. All we need to do to see that is watch the last few seasons of America’s Got Talent. I say that it has morphed because, as amazing as it is to watch today, there’s something about it that’s different. And then I find myself thinking back to what it was like when it really came on the scene in the early- to mid-80’s…..
I mentioned when we last caught up with each other that I was the Breakdance King of Bath Middle School. That was 1984 in eighth grade. For me, it started a couple of years prior to that when we were up in northern Michigan at the family cabin on Paradise Lake. We had made a trip to Cheboygan or Petoskey and on that trip I found a big instructional picture book on how to breakdance. I absorbed that book for the next year, practicing behind closed doors and then making my talent known to my family as I got better. (Although Mom wouldn’t let me practice any “helicopters” on the living room floor. Of course, I really didn’t mind that, since I had no desire to get rug burns or smash into Dad’s stereo equipment.)
So I learned from a book! Says a lot in today’s world of YouTube videos and such. Some moves I never did–like The Helicopter–but most of them I mastered as best I could: The Wave, The Centipede, The Crab and everything else the book had. But oh, the music! Remember the music? There were a couple of songs that were just the best to breakdance to. I have them both on my music list (for nostalgia’s sake, of course. No other reason….) The first one was “Jam On It” by Newcleus. A good one, but not near as good as “Freakazoid” by Midnight Star! What a beat this song has at the beginning! Definitely the best by far. In case you don’t remember it or haven’t heard it in years, here is the first 50 seconds of the song (you’ll see what I mean!):
Breakdancing came to an end for me when I entered high school as a Freshman in the Fall of ’85. The high school had its own version of Friday night Fun Nights, but by then breakdancing’s popularity was beginning to wane. That wouldn’t have stopped me–because breakdancing to me was a lot of fun–but the style of breakdancing the high schoolers used was aggressive and very suggestive. It only took one visit to a high school Fun Night for me to know that this was no longer something I was going to be doing. I could see egos on that dance floor, making it more about competition than having fun. So when one of them repulsively taunted me to come out on the floor, I stood there with my arms crossed and refused to lower myself to that kind of breakdancing. I figured everyone would think I was scared to dance in high school, but I didn’t care. I knew the real reason…..
Well obviously that was years ago. Many years ago. But four or five years back, my co-workers where I worked at the time got wind of my middle school fame (my telling them about it may have had something to do with it, but all that really did is just cement my fame in their eyes). They bugged me and bugged me to dance for them. I told them I might eventually possibly get around to doing something for them, but “we’ll see”. I worked with quite a few other people in a fairly open room that was inside a big garage for trucks. It was towards the end of a work day and we had a “lull in the action”, so-to-speak. So I grabbed my phone, started the “Freakazoid” song and started playing it over the intercom. I have to admit, it was cool! I could hear it echoing in the garage: “Freakazoids, robots, please report. Freakazoids, robots, please report to the daaance flooooorrrr….” and then the drum beat and keys started: “Bear/chick/bear-bear/chick/bear-bear-bear-bear/chick/bear….”
They came running! And I could hear them hollering, “He’s dancing for us! He’s gonna do it! Hurry up!….” And they gathered around in that inner sanctum and watched a 40-year old do something he hadn’t done since he was 14. At one point, while doing The Centipede, I just about knocked the air out of me. Maybe almost pulled a muscle or two. It was all a big blur with the adrenaline coursing through my veins and all. I was definitely rusty. But the joints still worked sufficiently enough to warrant an autograph and a couple of pictures. Actually, it got me on YouTube for a short while, but I never saw it (no, you can’t either. I already looked for it.)
So my “Breakdance King of Bath Middle School” days will now live on in infamy–at least in the minds of a privileged handful of co-workers who witnessed something that will probably never happen again.