In every form of artistic expression known to man, the artist has continually resided in the epicenter of the storm known as social acceptance, seeking to establish merit in his or her chosen art form.
Long before he was knocking people out in the UFC, Omaha-native Houston Alexander’s chosen form of expression was B-Boying and his canvass was his body.
“The energy attracts people. It’s like a great painting.” Said Alexander. “If someone puts maximum effort into a painting and uses a lot of different colors, then you’re going to feel the energy and that’s what makes the painting great; feeling the energy. That’s what B-Boying is all about.”
Alexander’s first taste of B-Boying (The B is short for Break) came in 1984 after watching the movie Flashdance, which included a thirty-second glimpse into the art form.
“The rawness and the acrobatic moves had me like, ‘Man, I gotta learn how to do that.” Said Alexander. “That clip [in Flashdance] had me hooked because it hit me on a very deep level. It wasn’t something that I decided to do, it’s something that is already inside of you that must be done.”
In almost twenty years of B-Boying, Houston has performed in front of Hip-Hop industry heavyweights such as Ice T, Salt N Pepa, Naughty By Nature, and Sir Mix-A-Lot.
“Dancing is something that I love to do.” Said Houston “Hip-Hop is a culture first before it is anything else. A lot of people don’t feel that energy, so they just don’t get it.”
As with a culture of any kind, B-Boying, a subdivision of Hip-Hop culture, has it’s own set of guidelines and mode of operation. While B-Boying is the chosen name of the art form, it is also an adjective used to describe all moves done on the ground. Poppin’, lockin’, and wavin’ are all terms that describe any movement above the waist, while not on the ground.
“The east coast specialized more in the B-Boying and the west coast specialized more in poppin’ and lockin’.” Said Alexander. “In the beginning, you could tell where a guy was from because of his style. As the art progressed, it became less possible to differentiate between the two because both styles borrowed from each other.”
B-Boying competitions, referred to as “battles” amongst the competitors, are showdowns between opposing crews in a battle for supremacy. These showdowns are a constant battle of can you top this, as the rival squads alternate performers in search of a knockout punch that leaves no question as to which crew is the victor.
“Even though you are in competition with the other crew, the energy of competition leads to energy of respect.” Said Alexander. “The guys might be on different crews, but we are all part of the Hip-Hop culture with the same goal and that goal is to spread the culture.”
If the goal is spreading the culture, then call Houston Alexander Johnny Appleseed. In 1996, Alexander, along with co-founder Mike Dunham (AKA DJ RIP), decided to start a B-Boy crew after seeing “Jam On The Groove” at the Civic Auditorium. “Jam On The Groove” a national touring act that featured the Rocksteady Crew, a legendary old school B-Boy crew, served to give Alexander and DJ RIP the motivation they needed.
“We weren’t doin’ shit except for lookin’ stiff.” Said Alexander. “As true B-Boys, it is our job to spread the culture, so we started The Alliance All-Star B-Boys and Girls Crew. Alliance came from working with everyone in the crew and forming an alliance every time we saw each other.” Explained Alexander. “All-Star came from the Chuck Taylor shoes, and the fact that there wasn’t just one star; we are all stars. Every part of the crew is as important as any other part.”
The first classes were held at the Edmonson Youth Outreach Center in North Omaha, the services of which were donated by Joe Edmonson. “People saw that we were doing something good for the community and they got involved,” said Alexander.
On January 31st, Alexander will begin teaching B-Boy dance classes at the Omaha Boys and Girls Club located at 2606 Hamilton street.
“Once the classes get underway at the Boys and Girls Club on Hamilton, then we will begin having classes at the other Boys and Girls Clubs in and around Omaha.” The price of the class is five dollars a week, with three sessions per week. The class times are tentatively scheduled from 5:30 to 8:30, with a firm scheduled yet to be announced. “The whole point is to teach the culture to the kids and establish the culture of Hip-Hop in Omaha. It’s good to see the younger generation investing their time in something productive rather than negative.”
People of all kinds are welcome to join the class or at least stop by and check it out.
“The only things that you need to bring to class are an open mind and a good attitude. It helps to know the culture because that is the direct goal of the class; to spread the knowledge.”
For information or to enroll in the class, contact Houston Alexander at 612-6718.
“The Hip-Hop culture is unique in the fact that it accepts everyone for who they are,” concluded Alexander. “If you go to a rock concert or a country music show, it brings a lot of the same people together. But, if you go to a Hip-Hop show, some of the best artists are white, Asian, Hawaiian, whatever, it doesn’t matter. Everybody’s culture is one culture- Hip-Hop.”