A quick intro to break dance in London
Our city has enjoyed a rich breakin’ (‘break dance’) culture since the early 80’s. From the cobblestones of Covent Garden to Black Sheep bar in Croydon, there are memories and moments in every postcode. In a bid to cover the most important points on break dance in London, we will:
- Take you through a brief history of the scene
- Share some events that you should visit (and participate in if desired)
- Reveal training spots to meet other bboys / bgirls
- Introduce you to some London-based dance crews
- Show you where you can take break dance classes in London
To fast forward to B-Better Breakin’ classes, visit our classes page now to see which sessions we are running this week.
Now we have your attention, let’s quickly cover why we rarely use the term ‘breakdancing’…
What IS Breakdancing? (and why we call it B-Boying)
The term ‘breakdancing’ was coined by the media in the early 80’s to describe our art form. The actual ‘break’ term comes from the breaks in the music or ‘breaking point’ depending on who you talk to. We expand on that and the history in this post.
Break-boys and Break-girls are dancers that know how to rock the beat and deliver that true, rocking energy. ‘The Rock’ is a groove that underpins the Breakin’ style, and if you’re not connected to that beat, you might not be Breakin’. Just saying!
In the Breakin’ community, we use the term ‘Breakdancer’ to describe someone who isn’t real, and just performs flashy moves. If you are into Hip-Hop culture, you will find a real home in the style, so embrace your inner B-Girl or B-Boy.
Throughout this post, the terms that describe this style will be interchanged, so don’t worry – it’s one dance.
Some London B-Boy history
We can’t touch on Break Dance in London without starting with Dolby D.
Dolby is truly a first generation b-boy in our scene and with his crew, London All Stars, they paved the way for many. Hear more about his story in the interview below.
London All Stars put our city on the map and were managed by legendary DJ, Paul Oakenfold. We want to also recognise a resurgent b-boy presence – Pervez from Live 2 Break
With 30+ years in the game, Pervez has returned to the scene and now holds a regular event that we will touch on later. Find out more on his current projects on his Facebook Page.
Foundationz Cru (since 1982)
Foundationz Cru may have had the first Breakin’ class in London and have always been resident at Pineapple Dance studio. We will expand on the history of Foundationz in a future post, so stay tuned. Details of their classes are listed later here.
Moving the clock forward to the 2000s we have La Familia Crew
La Familia Crew
This Islington-based crew were the realest of the real in an era that was hotly contested in London. Formed in 2002, La Familia brought an energy to our scene that hadn’t been seen for a long time. In our city alone there were a number of crews on the move including:
- Funk n Disorderly
- Having Fun
- Negro Tendencies
- Stray Animalz
- One Motion
- Imperial Steps
- Born to Rock
- Children of the Monkey Basket
- and many more
The UK’s top crew currently is London-based outfit, Soul Mavericks, so get to know!
Created by DJ Renegade , Soul Mavericks have a list of triumphs to their name, most of which are listed here. They have repped the UK at the B-Boy Championships year after year and are a modern day super power in our London scene. Through their success, Soul Mavericks may have changed break dance in London forever.
Also trained by DJ renegade and created by B-girl Sun Sun with Judi McCartney of B.Supreme was Flowzaic
2005 was the year Flowzaic first took to the stage and they have since paved the way for B-girls everywhere. The 2002-2005 time period was a major moment in our history and we will cover that more in a future article on London street dance culture.
London Break Dance events – Past and Present
To truly experience break dance in London, it pays to attend an event. First on the list is Ante Up!
Ante Up! is our very own monthly dance battle which we created to enrich our dance scene. Based in Camden, our event is easy to reach and open to all dance enthusiasts. Visit our Facebook page to see more, and join us at the next one.
A truly novel event, Floor Rippers is a total hip-hop event with a live band! Launched in 2011 in Old Street, Floor Rippers is the kind of event you HAVE to attend if you are in town. That feel-good energy will stay with you for a long time. Catch their latest news here.
East London-based Rain Crew hold a quarterly event called Rain Jam which is a solid platform for b-boys and b-girls to compete. Rain Crew will often collaborate with other organisations to create some thing which appeals to a wider range of dancers and artists. Look them up and join the vibes.
A fairly new event curated by the guv’nor, B-Boy Pervez, Let’s Jam is a cypher-based event with prize money on offer. More of a Breaker-centric event than a spectator-driven experience, Let’s Jam gives you a taste of the real essence of Breakin’.
Curated by the man Savan Shah, Epic (Every Person Is Capable) Jam is a periodic event that REALLY celebrates Hiphop culture and artistic energy. With fresh DJs, live performance and dancers of all persuasions, Epic Jam is true celebration and appreciation. Visit the Facebook page to find out when the next event is.
UK B-Boy Championships
An annual breakin’ event and one of the largest in the world is UK B-Boy Championships. Despite the dearth of events around the world and with Break Dance at the Olympics a very likely possibility, UK Champs is etched in the hearts of our scene. DJ Hooch, who created BBoy Champs, was also a founding member of Funkin’ Pussy.
Funkin’ Pussy was a weekly club night which was a real haven for breakers and the public at large. We will expand on the magic of Funkin’ Pussy and also find out more on Hooch in a future post.
We have to take a short step back in time to reveal what was probably the most celebrated regular breakdance event in London – Thursday night Throwdown.
Throwdown (til 2013)
Despite closing in 2013, the energy of Throwdown continues to reverberate through our dance scene and was the inspiration behind our Ante Up! battle. We will reveal the full history of Throwdown in a future post with creator, Donna Dee.
Of course there are more events which feature breakin’ in London, but these are a few which have a real presence. Next we will cover some of the best training spots.
Break dance in London – Training spots
For the accomplished dancer that doesn’t want to take classes (which are revealed later) but DOES want to work on their own stuff, here is a list for you. Some of theses locations have specific time limits, so please refer to them before attending.
Central London – Breakin’ KCL
King’s College London University have a long established Breakin’ society and have a varied program which we can be part of. You MAY have to be a member to attend, but contact them and they’ll be sure to let you know the protocol. This is a great opportunity for students to be part of the London dance scene.
Their sessions on a Saturday run from 6pm-9pm and cost only £3. The address is: Salmon Youth Centre, 43 Old Jamaica Rd, Bermondsey, London SE16 4TE . The relevant Facebook group is here.
Central London – ULU Breakdance / Student Central Breakdance
The University of London, based near Warren Street has a rich dance culture. The ULU Breakdance society is open to all University of London Union students and members of staff. If you are not a student do contact them on their Facebook page.
Sessions are held at Student Central, Malet Street, London, WC1E 7HY and there is a guide on how to get there by clicking here. There may be quite specific rules about attending, but this a low pressure, friendly environment.
Central London – Royal Festival Hall, Waterloo
Since the closing of Trocadero in 2014, there was a real hole left in the London dance scene. The organic successor to Troc was the Royal Festival Hall cloakroom foyer!
Smooth floors, a central London location and clean surroundings make this a good place to go and artists in many styles use this space. It’s important to note, however, that as there is a lot going on at this venue, there is a very strict timetable. This timetable changes on a monthly basis, so be sure to check here to see if it’s a good time to attend. They even have SILENT training sessions there.
East London – Stour Space
Stour Space is a solid location for breakdancing in London. With sessions curated by Hashtag Unity every week, this free event, nicknamed Power Space, is at one of the newer locations in London. This session runs on Sundays from 7pm-10pm with live djs, but please check before attending. The address is:
7 Roach Road, Tower Hamlets, London, E3 2PA
Stay up to date on their sessions by following them on Instagram.
West London – Open Bloc
Run by Society Dance Academy, Open Bloc is a training session every Friday from 5.45pm-8.20pm. This session resumes from September 6th. Find out more about the parent organisation and their work in Acton and beyond by clicking here.
The address is: iGym London, Victoria Road, London, W3 6BL
East London – Stratford Centre
Stratford Centre retail building is an unusual haven of break dance in London. This shopping centre is pretty much free once shops are closed. Although there are some homeless citizens staying there, the mix of skaters and breakers provide a real energy to this corner of London.
If you’re staying in the east, this could be worth a shot. Exit Stratford station and cross the road away from Westfield, and you’ll find Stratford Centre.
East London – Centre Stage studio
Centre Stage Studios is home to many of East London’s biggest street style dance companies and there is usually an open session on a Tuesday evening. Contact them on their Facebook page to find out what the schedule is on any given day. The address is:
1 Gurney Road, E15 1SH
North West London – The Yellow
The Yellow is one of the newer spots in London and serves the Wembley area. Open training takes place every Wednesday from 7.30pm-10pm and costs only £3. Expect dancers with different artistic motivations to be present and be sure to bounce ideas with them.
Find The Yellow at this address: 1 Humphry Repton Ln, Wembley HA9 0GL
This list will be updated periodically, so bookmark this page if you are planning a trip to London and want to jam.
Special mention – Breakstation (til 2006)
Thanks to DJ Hooch and DJ Renegade, we once had a place which truly changed our scene. A home for Soul Mavericks, Flowzaic and La Familia amongst others, Breakstation is cemented in London dance folklore.
Let’s now look at the best break dance classes in London.
Find a Break Dance class in London – Where to learn!
It may seem simple but to find a break dance class in London we must first know where to look. Not all classes are at major studios, but we will reveal a few here. Break dance classes for adults are often suitable for all ages upwards of about 8 years. We’ll start with our class:
B-Better – Camden & Hammersmith
To attend our B-Better breakin’ classes in Camden and Hammersmith head over to our classes page and book! Our classes, taught by Ade and other guest teachers, provide a well rounded experience of breakin’. Alternatively you can try Foundationz Cru, Rain Crew and La Familia Crew classes listed below.
Foundationz Cru – Pineapple Studios
Please note that to take class at Pineapple you will need to pay entrance to the studios and then pay the teachers. This is their protocol, so please do your homework ahead of time.
The address for Pineapple is: 7 Langley Street, Covent Garden, London, WC2H 9JA
Details on Foundationz classes can be found here.
Rain Crew – Centre Stage Studios
The homies Rain Crew are doing it up out in the East. Their classes on Mondays and Thursdays cost only £5 and you will be in good hands if you attend. Find their full schedule here and if you DO attend, tell them B-Better sent you. Centre Stage Studio, as mentioned earlier, is the location.
La Familia – Ingestre Road
A new one for the scene. La Familia are now holding a session every Monday in the borough of Camden. Geared towards improvers rather than outright beginners, but you can definitely learn there, regardless of experience.
This session costs only £1 and the address is above on the flyer. B-Better are encouraging all of our students to attend this session.
Click here to see our full review of Cypher Skillz!
For break dance classes in London, training spots and events, we’ve covered most of the ones which have longevity. These things come and go so we will attempt to update this list as and when possible. Please leave a comment below if there is something that ought to be listed and we will do our best to feature it.
If your crew is not listed and you are currently active on the battle scene, or have something to share, leave it in the comments below or message us on Instagram and we’ll try to add it here. This is a living, breathing guide to what’s happening around the city, so for those in our community, please contribute. To new faces with an interest in London Breakin’ culture, welcome! If there is any information that you desire that isn’t listed here, please drop us a line.
Much respect to all, past, present and future. Long may our scene thrive.
Last updated 06.09.19
If breakin’ isn’t for you, take a look at the best Hip-hop dance class in London. Also, be sure to take a look at our directory of Street Dance slang while you’re here. There’s something for everyone! Most people who are new to dance are unsure of what to expect. Here we outline the 5 most important things to consider when attending a class.