B-boy (was Re: Bamboo Spanish, etc.)

Benjamin Zimmer bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU
Mon Apr 25 14:19:44 UTC 2005

On Mon, 25 Apr 2005 10:16:05 -0400, Benjamin Zimmer
<bgzimmer at RCI.RUTGERS.EDU> wrote:

>On Mon, 25 Apr 2005 03:35:46 -0400, bapopik at AOL.COM wrote:
>>I just got finished adding "tar beach" and "B-boy" and "pedlock" to my
>>From the site:
>“B-Boy” or “B-Girl” (also “Bronx boy/girl” or “break boy/girl”) are
>breakdancing terms from the 1980s Bronx. They are still used today.
>As suggested by the Urbandictionary listing you quote, the term "B-boy"
>actually emerged in the mid-'70s.  But the first major press account of
>"B-boys" was a 1981 _Village Voice_ article:
>Banes, Sally. "To the Beat Y'all: Breaking Is Hard to Do." In: _The
>Village Voice_ April 22-28, 1981, p. 31. Also available in: _And It Don't
>Stop: The Best American Hip-Hop Journalism of the Last 25 Years_, edited
>by Raquel Cepeda. New York: Faber & Faber, 2004.

Whoops, I neglected to check the OED draft entries.  Banes' article is the
first one cited.

1981 Village Voice (N.Y.) 22-8 Apr. 31 The heroes of these legends are
the..B Boys, the Puerto Rican and black teenagers who invent and endlessly
elaborate this exquisite, heady blend of dancing, acrobatics, and martial
1982 N.Y. Rocker Jan. 26/1 Flash's audience, termed ‘B-boys’, were fans of
break music.
1984 D. TOOP Rap Attack viii. 115/1 The b-boy DJs and MCs were half-way
between consumers and performers..and their response to packaged music was
to violate it with cutting and rapping.

--Ben Zimmer

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