Commentary, Customs, Cuzco Neighborhoods

Breakdance Spins and Hops in Cuzco

Bboy in Cuzco

In the Plaza and parks of Cuzco bboys toprock to the rhythmic sound of HipHop before dropping to downrock, a windmill, and head spin. These could be young men from Cuzco practicing streetdance moves like in cities of Europe or the United States or they could be tourists showing their stuff in the Inca City.

In any case breakdance is part of life in the Imperial City. At the important youth project Sipas Wayna sponsored by the  Asociación Pukllasunchis, where graffiti flowers on walls, the basic steps and power moves of this athletic form are taught and practiced as part of a project to keep youth involved and alienation and loss at bay.

In local clubs battles are organized, such as the Inka Bboy Battle. In them a young man will enter moving with grace to set his rhythm before dropping to the floor with athletic moves to show his skill and hard work as well as attempt to intimidate the other men. Once he is done, smoothly almost without a gap, another young man comes on and moves through his set with vigor, a touch of gymnastics, and suddenly appears on his feet while toprocking hand to crotch. Another bboy picks up the challenge and so on until all have shown what they have.


Cuzco has a strong culture of athletics and sport which includes dance of all styles. In rushes of testosterone the bodies of young men develop and show power and ability throughout the city as they develop groups of friends and networks of acquaintances that will serve them as they move into the other stages of life. These webs of relationships spin and weave throughout Cuzco’s society where young men pass and bump fists.

Tourists move through the city, their minds on the reminders of the Incas or the monuments of Spanish colonialism, while Cuzco’s youth connect and disconnect in urban styles that criss-cross the globe and yet do work here to make ties and bonds that let the city live.

Their bodies sweat in the torrent of youth. The youth who practice breakdance say that they burn a ton of calories each day while working on their series of moves. To do their acrobatics and choreographies they need energy and nourishment. As they throw off sparks of energy going to ground in a crab or a cricket, sometimes they float and sometimes freeze, but always they drain their body of energy and work up sweat.

Breakdance in Cuzco
Breakdance in Cuzco

Nearby they have water, maybe an energy drink. They also stop when exhausted from testing their worth against other youth for food. This could be snacks they carry or a stop for streetfood such as anticuchos, or even enter a guarique for quick extras.

Cuzco’s culture of male athleticism turns into its culture of food as people move from home to the street, schools, institutes or clubs.

HipHop pulses in Cuzco. You see the graffiti on walls, the styles in people’s dress. You hear bits of the beat from earphones to ears and you note urban spaces turn to performance and competition some of which even makes its way to YouTube. Cuzco is alive and it shows.

HipHop 2012 Cuzco
HipHop 2012 Cuzco


Bboy Breaking
Bboy Breaking


The Setup
The Setup


All Together from Sipas Wayna
All Together from Sipas Wayna
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  1. Word.

    It’s always great to read about the b-boys and b-girls in other places around the world. I was pleased to read about Cuzco’s: the organization of battles, venues for expression, the dedication by the artists, and very happy that I didn’t read anything about police breaking up circles and cyphers.

    After reading this, I began to wonder a few things and if I may be the first to tag a comment here…

    My first curiosity is about style. Most b-boys and b-girls have an alias and the more seasoned artists have a particular identity and style with their moves. Different countries and cultures tend to digest hip hop slightly differently and make it their own. Crews and fans go to world b-boy competitions to exhibit and see different styles from different countries. I am curious about the Cuzco b-boys and b-girls and how they see themselves as b-boys and b-girls.

    In a way this leads me to my next curiosity, which relates to an article written a while ago about Tupac Amaru and his significance in Cuzco. Has there been any connections made amongst the hip hop youth and Tupac Amaru Shakur, a west coast rapper, or if his music was/is popular at all with the hip hop scene there?

    But thanks for the article. I’m sure you guys don’t hear enough praise about the website but I enjoy the various glimpses of Cuzco culture and food. And I was happy to see this article come up in my blogger news feed.

    All the best.

    1. Hi Bosco. Thanks for the comments. Brayan is competing in a Break Dance competition today and so I will translate you comments and give them to him for him to respond as someone who lives in Cuzco and is B-boy. Hope all is well with you. I miss going to coffee with you. This would be a great topic for a lot more conversation.


      1. David! Good to hear from you. I miss our coffee conversations as well. This would definitely be a great topic. I look forward to what Brayan has to say. Hope things are well with you. Good luck to Brayan in the comp.

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