'What ever happened to breakdancing?' : transnational b-boy/b-girl networks, underground video magazines and imagined affinities
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In 1997, Paul Gilroy was able to write: "I have been asking myself, whatever happened to breakdancing" (21), a form of vernacular dance associated with urban youth that emerged in the 1970s. However, in the last decade, breakdancing has experienced a massive renaissance in movies (You Got Served), commercials ("Gotta Have My Pops!") and documentaries (the acclaimed Freshest Kids). In this thesis, 1 explore the historical development of global b-boy/bgirl culture through a qualitative study involving dancers and their modes of communication. Widespread circulation of breakdancing images peaked in the mid-1980s, and subsequently b-boy/b-girl culture largely disappeared from the mediated landscape. The dance did not reemerge into the mainstream of North American popular culture until the late 1990s. 1 argue that the development of major transnational networks between b-boys and b-girls during the 1990s was a key factor in the return of 'b-boying/b-girling' (known formerly as breakdancing). Street dancers toured, traveled and competed internationally throughout this decade. They also began to create 'underground' video documentaries and travel video 'magazines.' These video artefacts circulated extensively around the globe through alternative distribution channels (including the backpacks of traveling dancers). 1 argue that underground video artefacts helped to produce 'imagined affinities' between dancers in various nations. Imagined affinities are identifications expressed by a cultural producer who shares an embodied activity with other practitioners through either mediated texts or travels through new places. These 'imagined affinities' helped to sustain b-boy/b-girl culture by generating visual/audio representations of popularity for the dance movement across geographical regions.