April 4, 2011
rocksteady lights
The Rock Steady Crew (source)
Rotterdam from OMA’s Rooftop, Photo by James Leng, 2008


While the break of films and teevee is a dance born of the streets, performed in the streets on scraps of discarded cardboard, as a B-Boy in training, for the last three years (on and off admittedly), I have not once danced outside. It’s not that I haven’t wanted to break into dance on the sidewalk of a sunny afternoon, Rock Steady Crew blaring from the bass-heavy sound system of a nearby dollar store. I just doubt that I could handle the physical pain. Break and the urban environment, while a good aesthetic match—boomboxes, sneakers, graffiti—are a pretty rotten mix logistically. Most break moves require sustained and calculated contact between hands and floor, and soft human flesh is obviously no match for hard gritty, and often frozen, concrete, even after supple skin has transformed into a thick layer of rough calluses. Band-aid solutions such a duct tape and gloves are a distraction, and only marginally longer-lasting when dragged against the sharp, pebbly surface of pavement. Cardboard boxes, while providing a smooth surface, are a poor substitute for a sturdy gymnasium floor, which is where much breaking now occurs, in high schools and community centers scattered across New York City. While traditionally one of the four pillars of Hip-Hop, a culture of the streets, now that break has migrated indoors, perhaps it shares more in common with elite gymnastics and other highly skilled professional athletics. Or at least, that is what I tell myself as I try to nail my Baby Freeze, fantasizing about my next (and first) victory on the gymnasium floor.


E. Sean Bailey


In some offices, employees take breaks like clockwork. Fifteen minutes at 10:00 a.m., one hour for lunch at 12:00 p.m. sharp and another fifteen minutes at 2:30 p.m. In other offices, where employees work around the clock, flaunting international labor laws, breaks may be contrastingly very brief; they may last for as long as it takes to run outside and inhale an entire cigarette in one single breath or they may be meandering casual affairs. These extended recesses may involve a trip to the gym, or to a nearby cafe to take in a World Cup game and a few drinks, for upwards of two hours. In such instances, these intervals mesh with an employee’s private time creating an endless hybrid state that hovers between an individual’s professional and personal lives. Other such interludes, associated with this genre, may include dinner at a restaurant or a trip home for a nap. These two differing break scenarios demonstrate the opposing ends of architecture’s office cultures; consist versus erratic. Of course, it is important to note that numerous variations exist in between these extremes.


Employee break patterns may reflect the workings of an office and provide insight into where their priorities lie, but whether or not these habits are related to the critical value of an office’s work remains elusive.


Erandi de Silva



One Response to “BREAK”

  • Arthur says:

    Olafur Eliasson was the break-dance champion of Scandinavia in his youth.



    « previous post

    next post »