When considering the art of breakdancing, it’s easy to envision a talented Hip-Hop dancer — “b-boy” or “b-girl” is the proper aka — somewhere wearing a Kangol hat and adidas tracksuit, hitting crazy handstands on top of a cardboard box on a South Bronx corner. However, long gone are the days where breaking was one of the four founding pillars of Hip-Hop, right there next to DJing, MCing (i.e rapping) and writing (i.e. graffiti). No need to fret, though; the culture of breakdance is alive and thriving across the world, as we found out not too long ago in the beautiful city of Mumbai for the 2019 Red Bull BC One World Final that went down earlier this month.

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B-Boys and B-Girls from across the globe battled it out in a round-for-round competition that eventually saw Kastet from Russia take home the women’s title, and Menno from The Netherlands crowned as the men’s top competitor — he became the first-ever three-time BC One world champion, too! Every breaker was amazing overall though, each bringing a style, individuality and attitude that was inspiring to witness. The core takeaway though was that breakdancing, although not as prominent in today’s Hip-Hop culture, still exists through these amazing and talented athletes. They’ve even helped build up the culture enough to officially make it a recognized competitive sport in the upcoming 2024 Olympics.


From the Last Chance Cypher that saw the b-girls really get a chance to shine, to the full two-and-a-half hour main competition, keep scrolling for an exclusive look inside the 2019 Red Bull BC One World Final. You’ll also peep words from key players in the game who spoke to us on what this battle means to them personally, and the culture of breakdancing overall:

“Although [breakdancing] started in New York, a lot of [the reason] for it going international is the South, North and West Coast [in America] — that [national embrace] started the idea that it could exist outside of New York. Like any other thing, it’s only natural that it spread all over the world because the conditions from which [breaking] was created exist across the globe. [We share] the same social conditions, spirit and energy of the youth, especially with their influence from so many other cultures.”

Stripes, Jacksonville, FL (USA)

“I think it’s amazing to see how much [breakdancing has] evolved since it was first established in New York, specifically in The Bronx. I remember first learning about it when I got started: seeing how it came from something very local and “so New York” to now changing so many lives is really special. ”

Logan “Logistx” Edra, San Diego, CA (USA)

“It’s crazy to think of how recent [the women’s rights movement] became [enacted in history], so to see the growth of the amount of b-girls actually coming into the scene [is great], especially now! I’m still young, so I came in a bit later than a lot of earlier b-girls, but it’s grown even since then.”

Logan “Logistx” Edra, San Diego, CA (USA)

“I remember when I first came [there was] maybe three hometown b-girls; I go back now and there’s about eight that I can name. I don’t know if I helped with that, but I think it’s just b-girls around the world helping to encourage more people to get into it and push pass the intermediate level as well. It makes me so happy to see more b-girls getting into it. It will only grow with all the publicity Hip-Hop and breaking is getting right now.”

Logan “Logistx” Edra, San Diego, CA (USA)

“The history of Hip-Hop and breaking is not missing; we’ve kept it in our responsibility to move it to the next generation. Both became a worldwide phenomenon, and to see [the progression] from the ’80s to now is mind-blowing. I remember Red Bull BC One in 2004, and we did a really small stage — maybe 300 people [in attendance]. That was still amazing because, during that era in Ukraine when we still had dial-up connection [Laughs], we’d watch it and go practicing. [Breakdancing] definitely has a huge influence on everybody in different countries. Right now, after almost 20 years, we’re here in Mumbai. It gives a lot of opportunities for people who do this to travel, meet new people and make something for themselves — that’s what Hip-Hop is all about! This is exactly why [the genre] grew up so much.”

InTact, Kiev, Ukraine (Europe)

“[When judging competitions], for me always the number one [factor] is music. A lot of things are happening on the [breaking] scene right now — we’re becoming part of Olympic games, sports and other things. However, dancing is not going on the back burner; breaking is number one. No matter what you do, if it’s not connected to the music then it doesn’t work for me. Music is something that brings your moves to the next level and gives them magic. I’ve witnessed a lot of battles where somebody is really strong on a physical level, and the other isn’t so strong but the style, creativity and music is next level. Basically, people would be doing crazy moves for nothing. It’s strong, but you don’t want to groove with them. Other people will do moves that aren’t so hard but they keep the rhythm and give you goose bumps. In my 20 years [of breakdancing], if I just did ‘moves’ I 100% wouldn’t be here. Rule 1: play with the music that gives you an everyday new feeling.”

InTact, Kiev, Ukraine (Europe)

“Second [when it comes to judging] is foundation. It’s your attitude, from the first move you make on the stage, which shows people who you are. Execution is not only about being clean; some people can crash and make an amazing move out of it. The ability to [bounce back] is important.”

InTact, Kiev, Ukraine (Europe)

“Of course, details [are important]. Even on a big stage like [BC One], I’m looking for that. Details are the in-between movements; it’s the story behind the big moves. I like to see the story, and there is no story without the details.”

InTact, Kiev, Ukraine (Europe)

“Battle attitude — its the character, style and creativity all combined — means a lot. Creativity isn’t just about doing something crazy, either; it has to be connected to breaking. Many people can get ‘over-creative,’ and it just doesn’t really feel like breaking. I’ve taken moves from other styles too, like martial arts, but it should always have the form of breakdancing when we bring it to our dance style. When you’re being creative by changing something or bringing something in, make sure it still fits into breaking style.”

InTact, Kiev, Ukraine (Europe)

“I don’t know if many people consider it, but biting is a huge factor too [Laughs]. It’s still taking place a lot, but I don’t want to say ‘This guy is losing’ immediately if I see biting. For me though, he’s definitely losing points. I’m from the generation — we’re talking 2000 or 1999 — where we didn’t know about biting. We understood in later years why it’s important. Everything was on a delay for us; things happening in Brooklyn, The Bronx and New York [in general] would come to us either 10 or 15 years later. Right now, when kids do it and show me they’re biting without understanding or acknowledging where this move came from, it doesn’t makes sense and really hurts me. Many people have been creating with their blood, sweat and tears to makes these signature moves, so it’s worth knowing where they came from.”

InTact, Kiev, Ukraine (Europe)

“First of all, I’m a b-boy from the 1996 graffiti era. In ’97 it was rap, in ’98 it became breaking as a b-boy and in ’99 I went in as a DJ. I know what Hip-Hop is, and I feel it. It’s not a problem [for me] to feel the b-boy atmosphere, on top of me knowing all of these guys almost personally. I’m 22 years into the game, and I know all of their styles of dancing. When I prepare the music for every battle, I know what kind of music they like. I try to do my best always — sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes old people make mistakes [Laughs]. When I get home, I’ll watch the live stream and work on fixing my mistakes. It helps to make me better for the next event. Music for b-boys, especially those who want to win, needs energy, style, song selection and quality of song overall.”

Soul DJ Smirnoff, Saint-Petersburg, Russia (Europe)

“[Winning] feels amazing! It was really dope. It was a big event, but dope nonetheless. The people being very close to the stage felt good. DJ Smirnoff put on some crazy beats, and I liked his music [selections] a lot. It was just wonderful. The vibes [here in India] were great! Hip-Hop for me is one of the ways I can develop myself. It’s not only about dance, but the music, DJing and culture is super important. Like a painting, Hip-Hop is art and I like all the things it represents.”

Natali “Kastet” Kiliachikhina *WINNER (Women’s)*, Krasnodar, Russia (Europe)

“Breaking has been my life since I was young. I started as a kid and it became something that helped me find my identity. From the music I listened to all the way to the clothes I was wearing, [breakdancing] was something that always got me away from partying too much and just got me focused. At the same time, it became an outlet for me to express myself; I can always recharge my battery [through breaking] and make it my lifestyle. The b-boy scene worldwide is just like one big family. I could go to any place In the world and crash on someone’s couch [Laughs]. There’s definitely been hundreds of people crashing on my couch! It’s just the culture; there are b-boys everywhere! You never feel alone when you’re a b-boy. Even though the background and culture is so different from person to person, there will always be people everywhere who can relate to it.”

Menno *WINNER (Men’s)*, Holland, The Netherlands (Europe)

Until next year! Watch the official full stream of the 2019 Red Bull BC One Final competition in Mumbai below:

Images: Alejandro Tavarez (@at_thegreat) / The Source