Breaking has long combined the art of dance with the streets, and has commanded so much admiration and respect that it will make its debut as an official Olympic sport in 2024.

One of the cities with a rich history in breaking is Los Angeles, so we hit the street to take a closer look at how this subculture is affecting the lives of its community and shaping LA's broader cultural scene. We spoke to Swap, a young OG to the LA breaking and Latinx communities who repps the Concrete All Stars and LA Breakers crews. He gave us an inside look at the scene and how it inspires the community.

We also laced him and his crew up in the all-new adidas Originals Forum, which is the inspiration behind our Forum series that deep dives into eight cities across the U.S. and examines various subcultures and the communities behind them.

In Conversation With Swap

How were you introduced to the breaking scene in Los Angeles?

My first memory of breaking was selling art on Hollywood Boulevard with my brothers while we were homeless. I saw the street performers and I was blown away by how much money they were making and how cool they looked. That was my first introduction. Once I started to go into jams, this community started to give me a place that I found home. I didn't even break at the jams – I was the water boy. We were still drawing pictures at the jams of all these great b-boys and poppers. Some people had church on Sunday, but every Saturday I had a practice spot and a jam every Friday. It was the best.

How did you find friends within the scene?

Finding friends in the breaking scene, you gravitate to who's first to accept you. And that was definitely kids in my community who were there, who fell in love with it like I did. And I could genuinely see they loved breaking as much as me. Or b-boying, we don't really call it breaking. To find love or find friends in the b-boy scene, you have to find people who fell in love with b-boy in the same way as you and can vibe with you at the same time.

Were there any local mentors/inspirations that really caught your eye?

The first man who really taught me breaking was a graffiti writer in my neighborhood named Space. He wasn't a big time b-boy, he wasn't the biggest, the baddest, but he gave me respect. He gave me lessons, he gave me something to push for. And it was big, big love.

And Fresh from LA Breakers was definitely a push for me. His voice still carries on. It's for me to push for everything that I want to achieve in life. And I look at my son and I think of Fresh's voice telling me, "You could do it all. You could push harder." Mentors, definitely, is what kept me close and kept me going in this breaking scene.

Center: Illy Background from left to right: Fresh, Doom, Pebblz, Jayd, Gwiz, Eddie, Ryan, Jared, Swap
Center: Illy Background from left to right: Fresh, Doom, Pebblz, Jayd, Gwiz, Eddie, Ryan, Jared, Swap
Highsnobiety / Corey C. Waters
Center: Steez Background from left to right: Markie, Illy, Ryan, Gwiz, Pebblz
Center: Steez Background from left to right: Markie, Illy, Ryan, Gwiz, Pebblz
Highsnobiety / Corey C. Waters
Adidas-LA-04
Highsnobiety / Corey C. Waters

How does the adidas Originals Forum connect with your community and how you express yourself?

adidas Originals Forum stands out, like any bboy should, and keeps it close to the culture, just like our community. That’s why the shoe will live on as long as our scene is around.

What keeps you going in this subculture? Who is pushing the scene to new heights right now?

At first it was getting respect from my OGs and my peers, but now it's to prove to myself that I could be better than where I came from. I could be a better dad. I could push harder to be a better person. I could push harder for anything I want to achieve. It's the physical representation of pushing for what you love.

If we're talking about who's pushing the scene to new heights in LA, it's definitely my crew Concrete All Stars. They're holding it down, hardcore. They're keeping the culture alive as the Olympic step in, which, that's going its own route. But Concrete All Stars are keeping a genuine culture, genuine party vibe, genuine hip-hop. And that's changing the game. People definitely recognize it.

How does LA's breaking scene contribute to the city's culture? On the flip side, how does the city inspire what you do creatively?

Breaking has definitely contributed to the LA culture. Just as an example is me. There wasn't a place for me and my homies to go and dance and have fun. What the heck? Our homies thought we were stupid for that. They're like, "Why are you breaking?" And we get stopped by gangsters. They'd be like, "What you doing?" And they'll be, "I'm a b-boy." Be like, "Oh, you cool then. You cool." But it gave us that doorway. It gave us something that can make us feel different. As you can see, like Joel, he's Mexican and he breaks. That's unheard of and it created these opportunities for us as of now, as of later, and as of in the past. It's definitely something I'd get my son into and get anyone else into. That's what breaking has done for the community.

Swap
Swap
Highsnobiety / Corey C. Waters
Adidas-LA-06
Highsnobiety / Corey C. Waters
Adidas-LA-07
Highsnobiety / Corey C. Waters

The city inspires me creatively through and through, not just with my breaking, but with my art, with how I go about my way of life. The city has shaped me as a person to know my truth and where I stand either when I walk on a set or when I walk into an art show or when I walk into a jam.

Any tips for curious newcomers?

I would definitely recommend learning tradition before just learning the moves. Learn the culture before you try and speak on how things should be. So if you're trying, if you're curious and getting in, learn the culture, learn the traditions, and understand why it has lasted so long.

If you learn the origin of breaking, you will learn to respect the streets and understand why it came from there and why it's for the people and not just for the crazy moves. And if you learn that, you will thoroughly understand and enjoy every aspect of the dance.

  • Director:Klaudia Podsiadlo
  • Talent Manager:Sunny Park
  • Casting:Klaudia Podsiadlo
  • Project Manager:Candice Grevious
  • Creative Strategist:George Ocampo
  • Directed by:Klaudia Podsiadlo
  • Cinematography & Photography:Corey C. Waters
  • Producer:Sarah Park
  • Styling:Kailee Takashima
  • Production Coordinator:Hanna Walicki
  • 1st AD:Bashir Taylor
  • 2nd AD:Carlos Salazar
  • 1st AC:Erick Aguilar
  • 2nd AC:Chris Marius Jones
  • Photo Assistant:Ozzy Vidrio
  • Steadicam/JIB Operator:Bill Hunt
  • Gaffer:Chase Erickson
  • Key Grip:Jon Brooker
  • BBG/Driver:Hank Bolton
  • Audio Mixer:Kevin York
  • Stylist:Kailee Takashima
  • Styling Assist:Allan Kent
  • Barber:Johnny
  • Production Assistants:Aurora Culver, Cory Herman, Miguel “Wolfie” Cordero, Valerie Marquez
  • Post-Production:Final Cut
  • Editor:Matt Carter
  • Colorist:Dimitri Zola @ MPC
  • Music Supervisor:Maxwell Gosling
  • Photo Retoucher:Matthew So
  • Talent:Swap
  • Talent:Kyd Steez
  • Talent:Illy
  • Talent:Jared
  • Talent:Ryan
  • Talent:Yuri
  • Talent:Pebblz
  • Talent:Doom
  • Talent:Jayd
  • Talent:Markie
  • Talent:Eddie
  • Talent:Toonz
  • Talent:Gwiz
  • Talent:Fresh
  • Talent:Jet
  • Talent:Joel
  • Talent:Kotee

We Recommend

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Forget the Console War, Xbox & adidas Are Entering the Sneaker War

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Get Early Access To The adidas Originals Forum Lo Home Alone Here

  • adidas forum low

    The adidas Forum Low Is Still at the Peak of Its Game

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Packer’s adidas Forum 84 Hi Is Your Prada Redemption

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    The Prada x adidas Forum Collection Finally Drops This Week

  • Image on Highsnobiety

    Prada & adidas’ Forum Could Be a Game-Changer

What To Read Next

*If you submitted your e-mail address and placed an order, we may use your e-mail address to inform you regularly about similar products without prior explicit consent. You can object to the use of your e-mail address for this purpose at any time without incurring any costs other than the transmission costs according to the basic tariffs. Each newsletter contains an unsubscribe link. Alternatively, you can object to receiving the newsletter at any time by sending an e-mail to info@highsnobiety.com

Web Accessibility Statement

Titelmedia (Highsnobiety), is committed to facilitating and improving the accessibility and usability of its Website, www.highsnobiety.com. Titelmedia strives to ensure that its Website services and content are accessible to persons with disabilities including users of screen reader technology. To accomplish this, Titelmedia has engaged UsableNet Inc, a leading web accessibility consultant to help test, remediate and maintain our Website in-line with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG), which also bring the Website into conformance with the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

Disclaimer

Please be aware that our efforts to maintain accessibility and usability are ongoing. While we strive to make the Website as accessible as possible some issues can be encountered by different assistive technology as the range of assistive technology is wide and varied.

Contact Us

If, at any time, you have specific questions or concerns about the accessibility of any particular webpage on this Website, please contact us at accessibility@highsnobiety.com, +49 (0)30 235 908 500. If you do encounter an accessibility issue, please be sure to specify the web page and nature of the issue in your email and/or phone call, and we will make all reasonable efforts to make that page or the information contained therein accessible for you.