Article, Blog, Boston Old School, Interviews

Boston’s Floor Lords Crew Celebrates 34 Years

[Via RedBull BC One]

By DJ Lean Rock on Jun. 24, 2015

Floorlords_Early_80s_pt_1

It’s been quite a blessing growing up as a part of Floor Lords, a legacy which began 34 years ago. One of the longest-standing & active breaking crews in the world (Only Zulu Kings, TBB, Rock Steady Crew and Dynamic Rockers have been around longer), Floor Lords has played a major role in developing the Boston Hip Hop community for more than three decades. The story begins in 1981 when Mass Break Team and a few members of New York Puppeteers joined forces.

Boston's Floor Lords Crew Celebrate 34 Years of Breaking

Mass Break Team ended up changing my father, Leanski’s, life when they introduced him to street hitting (hitting is a term for dancing on the street for money). My dad couldn’t believe they were actually making money on the street just from breaking and popping. Around this same time, several members from my dad’s original crew, NY Puppeteers, lost interest in dancing. So my dad started to hang out with Mass Break Team and started doing street shows with them in downtown Boston. Since my dad and a few others started to come around more often, Kid Cisco and Mad came up with the idea of starting a new crew called the Floor Lords.

The original members of the crew were Kid Cisco, Mad, Taz, Dave Carella, Supa Steve, Sir Rok A lot, Sut, Megatron, Dre, Gumbi and Leanski. Over the next year, the media had popularized breaking, and the global B-Boy community began to grow as a result. As the culture spread around the world, it too expanded throughout Boston, and even gaining a few members from Providence, Rhode Island, with Nolee and Archie, just to name a few.

Boston's Floor Lords Crew Celebrate 34 Years of Breaking

Fast forward to 1983, which saw a history-making showdown as Speedy (R.I.P) and Mike Gileo brought out Float and Chino from the Incredible Breakers (NYC) to do some shows in Boston.  What Float and Chino didn’t know is that they were actually being brought to Boston to battle the Floor Lords. My crew was notorious for being aggressive, and was known for getting into battles with everyone in the city of Boston. That said, there was plenty of hatred towards my crew in the city. To make the story short, my crew ended up battling Float and Chino and losing the battle quite sorely. No one in Boston had ever seen anything like Incredible Breakers before. Most B-Boys during that time typically specialized in one move, or a few moves, but the Incredible Breakers specialized in it all. For the people that don’t know of the Incredible Breakers, they were amongst the pioneers of toprock/rocking, innovated power moves and displayed a then next-level finesse. Not only did they inspire us to become well-rounded B-Boys, but they also inspired us to be more humble. They have been part of the legacy and family since that battle.

About two years later, in 1985, Floor Lords and Unikue Dominoes were Boston’s most respected crews and biggest rivals. While both crews had battled on multiple occasions, there was never really footage or any press of any of the battles. So a major exhibition was set up between them through a campaign called “Rock Against Racism.” It was pretty much our city’s equivalent to the Rock Steady Crew vs Dynamic Rockers at the Lincoln Center. Most of the city of Boston came out to see the battle and a local TV station even filmed it. Another local crew, Spin City Rockers, joined Unikue Dominoes and the younger chapter of Floor Lords– called Floor Lords 2– joined the Floor Lords for the battle. The Floor Lords ended up winning the battle by a landslide and ultimately gained Boston’s respect.

Around 1986, breaking began to die down across the country, but my crew still stayed strong. During these times, house dancing and new styles of Hip Hop dance became the more popular dance styles across the USA. People were really against breaking during this period, so in order for my crew to stay relevant in the performance world they had to learn to adapt to the newer styles of dance too.

Boston's Floor Lords Crew Celebrate 34 Years of Breaking

People would literally throw ice and water all over the floor at the time to prevent B-Boys from getting down. Despite the fact that everyone told the crew that breaking was played out and over, they kept with it. The crew managed to stay alive, but it died down to just Cisco, Flex, Archie, and my dad, Leanski, for a few years. Breaking finally made its resurgence on the East Coast again in the early 90s. And it was during that time that a couple of underground videotapes floated around, including crews like Battle Squad, Second to None, Aktuel Force and Rock Steady Crew.

Boston's Floor Lords Crew Celebrate 34 Years of Breaking

The most memorable footage I remember watching with my dad was the footage of Battle Squad at Battle of the Year 1992. For the older guys in my crew, it was really inspiring to see this footage because they got to see how big and how high-level breaking had become overseas. In fact, they hadn’t really see anyone break at such a high level in years. There were only two crews in the Boston area that could actually break in the early 90s­– Floor Lords and Something Different. And as for Something Different, they were more of a popping crew. The Rock Steady Crew Anniversary, Zulu Anniversary, and the videos of European B-Boys really gave  our community fuel again.

Boston's Floor Lords Crew Celebrate 34 Years of Breaking

In 1995, Leanski finally took commands of the crew and brought us back to our essence. He put more emphasis on training for breaking and popping, rather than adapting so much to the newer styles of dance. He began teaching my cousins and I how to break, gathered former members and started to recruit newer members to the crew to rebuild it.

Boston's Floor Lords Crew Celebrate 34 Years of Breaking

Around that time, Float had connected us with Kwikstep. We began building with Kwikstep and the people of his movement called Full Circle. This movement brought a lot of great crews and people together. We started traveling to more events across the country, doing more performances and eventually started our own theatre show, called  “Floor Lore,” in 1999. The underground breaking scene began to grow stateside with events such as Pro Am, Bboy Summit, Mighty 4 and Freestyle Session in the late 90s/ early 00s and these events really inspired, as we were able to see B-Boys from all over the world. As a result, the platform was really set for the future of breaking in the USA. In 2001, we threw our first public anniversary, called “The Floor Lords 20th Anniversary,” and in 2005 we threw our first “United Styles”. In 2012, we decided to combine both Floorlords Anniversary and “United Styles” to create more of a family vibe and celebration. Fast forward to 2015, we will be celebrating our 34th anniversary this weekend of June 26 – June 28… come celebrate more history with us!

Much respect and much love to all former and current members of the Floor Lords! R.I.P to our fallen members Speedy, Snap, and Itto!

Photos courtesy of Leanski 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *