TF Archives

The Rock Steady Crew - Taking it to the floor 25 years on

Author: michelle pirovich
Monday, November 18, 2002
You don't know what it feels like to go fill out a job application ...where it says what do you do- What do I write- I spin on my head...-

Its hard to forget the first time we saw The Rock Steady Crew in action. From that moment each and every one of us were in the garage, the school basketball courts or whereever we could get that cardboard to fit, practicing our moves the best we could, for being a b-boy and b-girl was now the only thing we wanted to do when we grew up.

25 years have now passed since the Rock Steady Crew turned our lives quite literally upside down and a tour is currently underway in the US to pay respects to hip-hop cultures glory days. The crew won't be making it down to our shores but that doesn't mean we can't all take it to the floor and engage in a fierce up-rocking battle for old times sake.

The Rock Steady Crew was established in 1977 by Bronx b.boys Jimmy D and Jojo. When they started this crew in the streets of the Bronx, they had no idea that someday it would take them all around the world. Only the best b.boys were down with Rock Steady. They had rivals in all five boroughs of New York and for every rival there were ten kids who wanted to be down with them. However, getting into the crew was not easy. To get into Rock Steady you had to battle one of the other b.boys in the crew. It was a competition few people won.

In 1979 when the b.boying hype was beginning to die down, Jimmy D put Crazy Legs and Lenny Len down with Rock Steady just in time to add new life to the art form and take it to the next level. They became the motivating force behind the Rock Steady chapter in Manhattan, and eventually other chapters as well.

The turning point for Rock Steady was in 1981 when people began to take notice of all the noise Crazy Legs, Frosty Freeze, Take One, Little Crazy Legs and Ken Swift were making in Manhattan. In August 1981, photographer/sculptor Henry Chalfant offered them the chance to perform at the Lincoln Center Outdoors Program. This performance, which was also a battle with rival b.boys The Dynamic Rockers, was crucial not only because it was covered by local television stations, newspapers, and National Geographic, it would later gain them worldwide exposure. Jimmy D took notice of the buzz that Crazy Legs had started in Manhattan and made him President of the entire Rock Steady Crew. Crazy Legs in turn made Frosty Freeze and Ken Swift Co-Vice Presidents.

In the winter of 1982 the Rock Steady Crew was invited to perform at the original Ritz nightclub. The list of performers that night included the Punk Rock group BOW WOW WOW, Afrika Bambaataa and the Jazzy 5. Since Afrika Bambaataa was known by many as the "Godfather of Hip Hop", the Rock Steady Crew was honored to be on the same bill. After their performance, Crazy Legs and Frosty Freeze asked Afrika Bambaataa if they could be down with the Zulu Kings, the most highly respected of all b.boys. Afrika Bambaataa allowed them as well as the entire Rock Steady Crew to become members of the Zulu Kings, knowing that they would also become an integral part of the Zulu Nation.

Soon after that performance the Rock Steady Crew took the downtown club scene by storm. They became caught up in a culture clash of Rastafarians, Punk Rockers and Hip Hop heads. As the word spread, Rock Steady expanded into a huge family consisting of women, children, roller skaters, artists and DJ-s. The Crew's popularity grew bigger than the city of New York and Kool Lady Blue started managing the group. She booked them on the Roxy Tour, sponsored by Europe One Radio. The Roxy Tour took the Rock Steady Crew, Afrika Bambaataa, Fab Five Freddie, The McDonald Double Dutch Girls, DJ's and graffiti artists straight from the "concrete jungle" to London and Paris. It was the first Hip Hop tour of it's kind and it opened the door for many more to follow. The Crew also appeared on the Jerry Lewis Telethon two years in a row. In November 1983, they were aske