B-Boys: Boundaries that Are Breaking Innovation

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You’re on a big stage. The stadium is packed with everyone in your city watching. Millions of people are watching you on their televisions, computers, and smartphones. Months of preparation leading to this moment. You finally made it. You’re a professional. A star. Lights are flashing and music is blaring. You hit that freeze perfectly on the beat and the audience goes crazy. You hear their screams and you can sense all of the people cheering at home, just like you’ve seen them do while watching a football player catching a long catch or a boxer deliver his final blow. Then the cheers start to fade. You slowly make your way back to your working-9-to-5-while-abandoning-your-passion reality. It was just a dream.

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Sadly, this reality is something that many B-boys (also known as “breakdancers”) face. When they are young and have plenty of time, they train a hard as they can in order to become the best. They hope to one day become the best and go on to become the champion of an enormous competition. They develop such a love for the art form that it becomes their passion and they pursue it religiously. They may even become one of the best and win one of the major competitions, bringing home that cash prize. However, a bboy cannot guarantee that they will come out victorious every single time. Therefore, they cannot rely on competing as a source of income. As a result, once they come to the age where they have a lot more responsibilities, they reach a point where they have to choose between their passion they’ve worked so hard for, or financial stability. Things such as rent, bills, groceries, marriage, and children obviously take priority in their over lives over something like breakdancing. B-boys are forced to quit doing what they love in order to make time or a “normal” nine-to-five job that they may not even like.

The obvious solution to this problem would be to come up with a way that B-boys and bgirls can make a steady income. There have been a number of attempts at making this happen. However, none of them have proven very successful. That is until recently. Karl “Dyzee” Alba is a 13 time world champion as well as a pioneer within the breakdancing community. Over the past year he has been testing out what he calls “THE PLAN” which is a very innovative approach that stands out among the rest. Alba’s plan is to encourage B-boys and B-girls to take ownership of their talent in order to treat it as a business. According to Alba, “Now is the time to prepare ourselves to catch the wave, by taking the Bboy industry to a higher level, using a fan cultivating business structure and format which has been proven successful in other industries, by serving its practitioners while generating large financial profits and returns on investments from general audiences and sponsorship dollars.” What he is essentially saying is that with the upcoming popularity and exposure of breakdancing to the general public, B-boys and B-girls have a chance to put breakdancing on the level of mainstream spectator sports such as football, basketball, baseball, and even Mixed Martial Arts.

By generating fans B-boys and B-girls can hold battles that spectators will pay to watch, just like they would with football tickets or pay-per-view UFC fights, such as the much anticipated fight between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor. Another similarity between these theoretical bboy battles and UFC fights is that Karl Alba envisions that they will go along with public press conferences at which important decisions regarding the battle will be made between both teams. It is stated, “The battles are a blend of professional sports, hip hop concerts and sports entertainment which will rapidly cultivate diehard fans and business partnerships, and provides the ultimate space for city wide practitioners of the art to develop their craft.”

In order to determine the potential probability of success for this innovative idea, it is necessary to observe how athletes who participate in the other various spectator sports are doing (as far as their financial status is concerned). As stated by Badenhausen, “The world’s highest-paid athletes are earning more than ever, with the top 100 banking $3.8 billion over the last 12 months. That total is 23% higher than the prior year.” A professional athlete seems to be one of the highest paying professions in the world.Since the plan that Karl Alba envisions for breakdancing greatly resembles the structure of Mixed Martial Arts, that is the best sport to make the financial comparisons to. One athlete that stands out among the rest in the MMA world is fighter Floyd “Money” Mayweather. According to Forbes, “Mayweather tops Forbes’ annual list of the world’s highest-paid athletes for the fourth time in seven years at $285 million, including $10 million from endorsements, appearances and memorabilia.” It is further explained that before the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Connor McGregor, both fighters were already guaranteed an enormous amount of money. McGregor was set to make at least $30 million while Mayweather was set to make $100 million. In the end, both fighters ended up making 2.5 times their respective amounts.

Who can these two fighters thank for their huge paycheck? The answer is simple: the viewers. The Entertainment and Sports Programming Network mentions, “The fight reached between 4 million and 5 million pay-per-view sales with an estimated 50 million people watching in the United States alone.” Think about this. Fighting is just one thing people like to watch. They like to watch it so much that they’ll even pay a lot of money to watch it on pay-per-view, and even more money to watch it live. If breakdance battles are able to appeal to the general public as much as fighting has, B-boys and B-girls can pull in as much fans as fighters do, and therefore will be able to make as much of a fortune as fighters do.

Karl Alba’s plan to put breakdancing on this scale is a genius innovation. It is clearly the best solution to giving B-boys and B-girls the platform they need in order to make a living from doing what they actually enjoy the most: training and battling. If other competitive athletes can turn their talent into a profession that provides them with a reliable source of income while allowing them to pursue their passion, then B-boys and B-girls can do the same. What Alba is doing will make an impact on more peoples’ lives than anyone could even imagine. Breakdancing started as a thing for the poor and unprivileged youth to participate in on street corners to keep them away from gang violence. However its future lies in the hands of Karl “Dyzee” Alba and his innovative idea. If his idea succeeds, it will be a major win not just for him, but for those poor people who once danced on street corners. That is the beauty of innovation. It actually affects other people more than it affects the innovators themselves.

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