At my school, breakdancing was introduced around the same time as it was at Jaimenacho’s – although we did in fact have several black students at ours. They were the masters, the ones who brought this fantastic new art form to our white suburban world.

They were three brothers, all of whom were very cool and admired by the other students. Milton, the eldest member of the three man crew, looked a lot like Herbie Hancock and was generally regarded as the leader. He was the best — and although his specialties were popping and uprock, he could bust out with just about any move imaginable. His younger brother Donnell was almost as good, and they would often practice their moves on back lawn at lunchtime.
We used to all crowd around, gawking and and watching in awe as they showed us how it was done. Sometimes this was done with a boombox, sometimes not (which made it a little strange). I don’t recall anybody ever challenging them to a battle, or ever seeing them participate in one – but we were confident that they could beat down anyone who dared question their superiority.

These guys were so dope, in fact, that they were invited to perform at a PTA meeting. I remember going with my mom to the school gym that night, just to watch them. Halfway through the meeting, there was indeed an ‘intermission’, at which point the guys came out and set up the padded mats on the floor. After the principal gave a brief introduction, Milton pressed ‘play’ on the boombox and the body-rockin’ sound of Whodini burst forth.
The three of them started off with some popping and locking, and gradually progressed into an impressive combination of windmills, centipede, bronco, and other acrobatic-style moves. Most of the parents were completely bewildered by what they were witnessing, ignorantly unaware that they were experiencing one of the greatest exhibitions of breakdancing the north state had ever seen. Like most parents, I think my mom just smiled and subtly tapped her foot to the beat. I was a lot more into it, however, and wanted to be able to throw down like those three. In retrospect, the idea of a bunch of parents watching three kids breakdance at a PTA meeting seems absurdly silly – but hey, it was the 80’s.

After ushering in a new era of dancing at our school, the three brothers promptly disappeared without a trace. I’m sure they ended up at another school somewhere, where they probably had the same effect. In fact, their presence at our school may have been part of an orchestrated plan… Perhaps they were operatives sent out by the hip-hop community, on a secret mission to garner understanding and support for breakdancing in white communities. It could very well be true.

Before they left, however, Milton was kind enough to write some words of encouragement in the yearbook of (fellow Amigo) Pepe at the end of the school year. If I remember correctly, in recent weeks he’d been helping Pepe learn how to pop in the same amazing style that he did. Although Milton was the undisputed master of the cardboard, he did not have the same authoritative command over the English language. In Pepe’s yearbook, he simply wrote

KEEP POPING!

Wise words to live by, indeed.
What’s funny is that Milton allegedly turned up years later as a member of the gangsta rap group D.R.S., noted for their 1993 single “Gangsta Lean”. I for one was disappointed that he had traded in his wristbands and Adidas for 40’s, hoochies and bling bling.

Nevertheless, we will keep poping anyway.