Breakdance culture breaks through in Times Square public space

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 10 July, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 10 July, 2011, 12:00am


It's 11pm and the lights have just gone off at Times Square, but the party's only starting in the open piazza beside the shopping mall.

More than a dozen breakdancers - also known as b-boys and b-girls - are spinning, popping, and locking as passers-by catch a glimpse of a street culture that originated in the Bronx, New York, in the 1970s.

Dancer Mau Chun-hin, 19, said some people thought they were delinquents, while others took photos and applauded after seeing some of their physically demanding moves.

Fellow dancer Edwin Chan Hoi-yeung, 18, said breakdancing saved him from a difficult childhood that involved getting into fights and stirring up trouble for no reason.

Both are part of the 731 Wolf Crew, which meets every Friday evening at the street-level area that is owned by Times Square.

The crew has used the space to practise and hold shows for friends for the past two years with little trouble from management or the police.

Chan said this showed that Hong Kong could accommodate public performers, but the government was failing to nurture this.

In February, the Secretary for Justice filed a claim seeking damages from Times Square for breaching a deed of dedication under which it agreed more than 3,000 square metres of land at the street level would be available for pedestrian passage and temporary recreation. That, the judgment said, was in return for the government granting bonus site ratio, or building space, for the site. A spokesman for Times Square said the area hosted regular art exhibitions and some performances after gaining approval from management.

However, he was not aware of the breakdancers using the space.