The B-boy Subculture: whenever they dance, wherever they are in the world

Benson Lee’s film Planet B-Boy (2007) follows the lives of various dance crews around the world and documents their experiences within the B-boy subculture. The documentary focuses on the 2005 Battle of the Year, an annual global competition that culminates with the crowning of the best b-boy crew of the year. B-boying, or breakdancing, began in the 1970s as part of the hip-hop movement in the United States. By the 1980s and 1990s, b-boying had spread across Europe, and then to Asia and South America, with each country adding its own cultural influences to the dance form. The film specifically follows crews from Japan, South Korea, France, and the United States as they prepare for the international competition in Germany. The film includes in depth interviews with the dancers, coaches, friends, and families, as each crew struggles to balance their personal lives with their dance lives.
What I found most interesting about Planet B-Boy is the similar experiences of each dance crew. All of the dancers go through similar struggles: seeking parent’s approval, wanting to build a better life, fighting discrimination. A Korean b-boy dances despite his father’s harsh criticism just as an adolescent b-boy from France struggles to help his mother understand his alternative lifestyle. B-boying has become a shared medium for self-expression. Although they are from different continents, each crew is connected by the b-boy subculture. This belonging to a shared subculture often conflicts with their feelings of belonging to their own country. Each crew strives to win for their country, yet shares the wish to promote the b-boy culture and lifestyle. In the end, these b-boys belong to a culture that has no physical location. Instead, their culture is lived out whenever they dance, wherever they are in the world.
Matthew Sy