These Are the Breaks
Speedy Legs invites you to throw down the breaks for a hip-hop conference

Photo by Steve Satterwhite
Speedy Legs, spinning up a storm  


The Hip-Hop Elements
Details: Speedy Legs invites you to throw down the breaks for a hip-hop conference

From the Week of Thursday, December 5, 2002
Cinema Shalom
From films about orgasm to the mythical Golem, the Jewish Film Festival is all over the place

After more than twenty years, one of Miami's original b-boys, Richard "Speedy Legs" Fernandez, is beginning to feel the toll of the countless contortions he's performed while break dancing. At 36 years old, the local dance guru admits he has trouble with his ligaments and his lower extremities may not be as swift as his moniker implies.

Although his hairline may have receded from the puffed-out mullet he once wore, Speedy Legs can still spin up a storm, twisting his lanky frame like a funked-out Gumby doll engulfed in a beat-induced tornado. To many people these days, his genre is a fad that came and went with the likes of Shabba-Doo and the electric boogaloo. But veteran breakers such as Speedy Legs, Chillinsky, and a popper named Cuba are testaments to the fact that the dance style never fully bit the dust.

"In 1985 break dancing died as a fad," Speedy Legs says. "But I believed that the philosophy of breaking was like martial arts -- that the spins, jerks, and everything that the body could do was still developing."

Through the years he hooked up with other old-time breakers "who were still feeling it" and began dancing in public places and instructing kids at parks and police athletic leagues. For the past decade Speedy Legs has been teaching dance at biweekly "dollar nights" and hosting b-boy, rap, and DJ competitions while nurturing a new generation of break dancers who are full of youthful exuberance and extremely cool to watch. "There's a whole army of them," he boasts. "And all they want to do is dance."

This weekend Speedy Legs's clothing company, Hip-Hop Elements, will gather the troops at the Miami Light Project's Light Box and Miami Beach's 21st Street Recreation Center for the Hip-Hop Elements Throwdown, a two-day symposium, exhibition, and competition open to any emcee, b-boy, or DJ who wants to battle for a title. Friday night opens with performances by groups Andromeda and 7th Direction, and also includes a screening of the new documentary The Freshest Kids. The Throwdown continues Saturday with rap, DJ, art, and dance competitions for trophies and up to $300 in cash. Dance matches include one-on-one and three-on-three b-boy battles, popping rivalries, and spoken-word combat. Artists interested in participating should arrive early to register.

While plenty of face-offs are planned, Speedy Legs wants to keep the dancing element of hip-hop front and center. To him break dancing is the root of everything that is hip-hop and continues to be overshadowed by the politics of record labels and rappers' turf wars. "The b-boy element is the strongest and least-recognized part," he vents. "It was left to die by mainstream corporate America. They looked at it like the hula hoop." But to Speedy Legs breaking is a calling, and he promises the raw physicality and dynamic beauty that is at the heart of the dance style. | originally published: December 5, 2002

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Printer friendly version of this story
Email this story to a friend
Email Juan Carlos Rodriguez
More stories by Juan Carlos Rodriguez
Send a letter to the editor

Home | News & Features | Letters | Dining | Culture | Music | Film | Night & Day | Best Of
Classified | Personals | Promotions | Web Extra | Archive | eSubscribe | About Us | Careers

Contact Us | �2003 New Times All rights reserved. | Privacy Policy | Bug Report