Last night I finally made it to one of these breaking practice spots that b-girl Monica keeps telling me about. On Mondays and Wednesdays (for now, at least) there is a free breaking class and practice session at the Bushwick Hylan Community Center in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
When I arrived, the staff directed me to a small multi-purpose room, where a dozen or so young people were stretching out on the floor. A boombox played old skool hip-hop.
I found Monica in the corner doing some yoga-ish stretches. Soon other breakers arrived until there were about 25 folks working on various moves and freezes. It being Williamsburg, of course a lanky white dude rolled in with a fixie bike, wearing skinny jeans and a checkered scarf. He then took off his shoes and proceeded to do a bunch of really dope contortionist-type handstands and freezes. Several Japanese b-boys and girls chatted away in the corner.
It was going to be an interesting evening.
From 7:30-9pm, a more experienced b-boy taught a one hour intermediate-level class, focused on both toprocking, floorwork, and basic freeze transitions. I found it challenging but not impossible, and everyone else seemed to be keeping up just fine. The instructor moved pretty fast through each section, with a minimum of coaching or guidance. So I got exposed to lots of new moves and patterns, without too much depth or assistance. Not bad, for a free class.
Meanwhile on the other side of the room, the more advanced b-boys and b-girls were throwing down in the center, doing windmills, air flares, handspins, headspins, and two- and one-hand hops. It seemed like a pretty friendly vibe, with people goofing around, clapping for particularly dope moves, and chatting away.
While not a substitute for a more intensive breaking class, this practice session is a cool spot to work on your moves and get inspired by other b-boys. I'll definitely be back.
The free breaking class and practice is on Mondays and Wednesdays at the Bushwick Hylan Community Center is at 50 Humboldt Street, Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Class times may vary, so you might want to call the Center at (718) 453-8116 before heading out.