One reason I started this website was that I had a need to spread the stories I’ve encountered of the development of bboying during the years. Growing up as a bboy in the late 90’s meant we witnessed a lot of important moments and people either directly or through stories and footage. Many of my generation take these experiences for granted but while working with the new generation of bboys and bgirls around the world I notice there’s a big gap of knowledge that is missing. So let’s continue what we started with my previous post with French bboy history. This time we’ll take a look at Italian bboy masters. Hope you learn something new or if not, hopefully the post uplifts some memories from the years gone by.
The biggest Italian influence for world’s bboy culture is of course the incredible bboy Maurizio aka The Next One. If we talk about European bboy history this name has to come up. This man took what he saw from the pioneers of New York and mixed it on his own way. He combined the funkiness of Crazy Legs and explosive power of Icey Ice that lead to his unique way of movement he calls space flow. Imitated by many, succeeded by none other if you ask me. It’s the result of thousands of hours of hard work, dedication and love for the hip hop culture. First time I recognized Maurizio was on the Ultimate Bboy Session tape from 97 wearing all white and destroying it with back spins. When he first stepped on stage the energy changed and you knew something serious was about to happen. My first teacher Mikko also gave me tapes from the 80’s with Maurizio in all blue spandex suit hitting halos in some event they called World Championships by IDO. Might have been the year 1987. Way ahead of his time already by then.
What’s special about Mauri is that he’s a living example of a true hip hop head when we’re talking about the whole culture! Besides his bboy skills his vinyl collection is outstanding and he works with the King of the Beats battle aimed for beat producers. His beats are banging with Beat4Life studio and he’s part of the Gang Starr foundation. Besides training harder and longer, discussions with Maurizio led me to buying my first MPC as well. So if you got a chance to meet him ask questions because he got answers for days. Maurizio has been and continues to be a true inspiration for thousands around the world.
When I got my first copy of Battle of the Year 1996 there was one man who stood out. The whole tape was full of European bboys in their prime. But in Passo Sul Tempo crew representing Italy one man was funky, very complete and he battled hard. Later I found out this man in a boyoing style beanie was called bboy Headz aka Davide. Footage of him was very hard to find. Eventually I got to meet him 10 years later around 2007 when he still entered a crew battle in Rome. Seeing him live was a great experience and he still had that funk! So if you don’t know Davide study the clip below. Doing what he does in the time was rare and would still burn a lot of bboys today. Davide is an inspiration to stay complete and keep an open mind for things you can not do yet. It’s never too late to go back.
Those years Battle Squad was everywhere. That gave us a chance to see more of them too. We bought all the tapes we found and traded the rest. Their footage was mostly about Storm and Swift with glimpses of Aktuel Force and other European top bboys that time. Some tapes had a very few solos of Emilio, a lesser known Battle Squad member. Every time I went to Italy ever since I always asked people about Emilio. Turned out that almost nobody even in Italy had never seen him. They told me Emilio doesn’t come to jams and likes to stay and practice by himself. To each his own, Emilio has always been super nasty with his flow. There was always one story that came up when talking about him. I kept hearing people talk about Emilio’s mystic straight legged, straight bodied windmill. Everybody talked about it but nobody had it on tape. And no, we’re not talking about tombstones here but straight bodied windmills. Legends like this is what bboying has always been about, stories that pass on from people to people. Emilio is another great example of the Italian excellence, complete view on bboying with a raw touch of freestyle and smoothness.
Those were the three main Italian influences for me. The research is never complete so keep digging deeper! If the article gave you any ideas, feelings or inspiration please add to the comments below.