Breakin' with Turbo

Breakin’ with Turbo

To get your Monday off on a positive “spin” (pun intended), I present to you two most radical dance scenes from 1984’s Breakin’ and its sequel, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo. (Yes, both films were released in 1984.) Both of these dance sequences star Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers as “Turbo” and they will best demonstrate Breakin’ with Turbo.

First up, from the original Breakin’, is Turbo’s famous “broom dance”:

Although I don’t remember seeing them back in the day, on DVD — and yes, I own this film on DVD — you can clearly see the strings holding up the levitating broom. Although Turbo’s dance moves appear to defy gravity, it appears that brooms cannot (at least not without some Hollywood trickery).

This scene also introduced me to the band Kraftwerk. The song playing is called Tour de France. Probably the day after I saw Breakin’ for the first time I ran out and bought the soundtrack on vinyl, and I remember being pret-ty disappointed that this song did not appear on it.

Right before this clip begins, Ozone (Turbo’s dance partner) asks him, “Who are you anyway, Fred Astaire?” The reference is not incidental; Turbo’s dance scene was influenced by (and an homage to) Fred Astaire’s appearance in Royal Wedding, in which Astaire dances with a coat rack.

In the Breakin’ sequel, Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo, Turbo once again steals the show with yet another incredible dance sequence.

This scene, even more than the broom dancing scene, is a direct (but updated) reference to another Fred Astaire dance sequence in Royal Wedding in which Astaire also dances on the ceiling.

Since those two films were released, if you’ve seen a breakdancing robot in film or on television, there’s a pretty good chance Michael ‘Boogaloo Shrimp’ Chambers was inside it. Some of Chanbers’ roles have included the Urklebot from Family Matters and “Good Robot Bill” from Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey. As himself, Chambers has appeared in several music videos including Lionel Richie’s “All Night Long,” Chaka Khan’s “I Feel For You,” and Sugar Ray’s “Fly.” Chambers was even used as the animation model for MC Scan Cat, dancing opposite Paula Abdul in her video “Opposites Attract.”

Rumors are a script for Breakin’ 3 is being shopped around Hollywood, so let’s hope Chambers still has all his moves and we can soon all be Breakin’ with Turbo again. And hey, if you’re out there Mike … I can do a pretty mean moonwalk. Just sayin’ …

Amazon Link: Breakin / Breakin 2 Box Set

Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo

It was my wife’s birthday, and my gift to her was tickets to Step Up 3D, a movie she’d been wanting to see for some time. Now Step Up 3D is a dancing movie, a movie that features a lot of dancing scenes. And it is fairly modern, I guess, not just as far as its release date but also as far as it’s content; it reflects what is happening in the world today (or at least what is happening in somebody’s world today; not mine, but presumably somebody’s). However, as I watched this movie, I was reminded of another, far less modern movie, a movie called Breakin’ 2: Electric Boogaloo.

breakin 2

Like Step Up 3D, Breakin’ 2 is about dancing. To be specific, it is about breakdancing and the breakdancing lifestyle. As suggested by the 2 in its title, it is a sequel to a film called Breakin’. Now I had never heard of Breakin’, and I don’t think many kids in my school had heard of it, either. We all heard of Breakin’ 2, though. It played at our local multiplex and was somewhat popular, not popular enough to cause any of us to take up breakdancing, but popular enough that many of us wanted to and did see it.

I myself saw Breakin’ 2 not at its initial release but a few months later; I saw it on HBO at a friend’s house after an afternoon at the mall. Unfortunately, I don’t remember much about it; all I can recall is it featured a character named Kelly who went by the street name “Special K” and a breakdance fighting scene. So the movie must not have been that memorable. More important than the movie itself, though, was the affect it has had on culture. It affected the culture at the time; it was a flagship of the breakdancing trend that was sweeping the nation back then, a flagship that both spread that trend and capitalized on it. Not only so, but it is still affecting the culture today. The phrase Electric Boogaloo has become a common phrase, one that is used to describe any movie sequel that is silly or unnecessary. It’s been used this way hundreds of times; the latest I’ve heard is Snakes On A Plane 2: Electric Boogaloo.

Now when we got home, I discovered that Breakin’ 2:Electric Boogaloo was on Netflix Instant Watch, so my wife (who had never heard of it for some reason) and I decided to give it a try. When we did, we discovered that Step Up 3D reminded me of Breakin’ 2 for good reason: they are almost the same movie. Both use the plot contrivance of a need for money to save a building (in Step Up, it is $100,000 to save a loft in New York, while in Breakin’ 2 it is $200, 000 to save a community building in L.A.) as a set-up for elaborate dancing scenes. So it is truly a case of “what was old is new again” or “what goes around comes around” or something like that. Ridiculous as it may be, we’re still dancing the electric boogaloo.