The New York City Breakers were founded by Michael Holman in 1981 when he recruited dancers from various B-boy teams to join the crew. Hoping to manage the Rock Steady Crew, Holman needed to find another dance group for them to compete against for a Hip Hop night. Rock Steady Crew member Crazy Legs suggested inviting the Floor Masters. Much to everyone’s surprise, the Floor Masters outshined the Rock Steady Crew during the battle, and Holman was extremely impressed. It was then he decided to form his own dance crew that would specialize in power and speed. He recruited the best dancers in New York to join the squad and eventually became the manager and agent for the New York City Breakers.
The original leader Chino “Action” Lopez cut members of the Floor Masters who didn’t have enough skill and also searched for new talent. The new members included Noel “Kid Nice” Mangual (known for his unique head glides), Matthew “Glide Master” Caban (fist glide extraordinaire), Tony “Powerful Pexster” Lopez (known for his power moves), Ray “Lil Lep” Ramos (head spin expert), Bobby “Flip Rock” Potts (known for flips and footwork), Tony “Mr. Wave” Draughon (body contortionist) and Corey “Icey Ice” Montalvo (known for his trademark air moves).
Within days of forming the NYCB, Michael Holman booked the group on the nationally aired Merv Griffin Show and more opportunities quickly arose for the crew. They also made appearances on Soul Train, Ripley’s Believe It or Not, Good Morning America, NBC’s Salute to the Olympics and battled the Rock Steady Crew in the movie Beat Street. The group went on to appear in Gladys Knight and the Pips’ music video for “Save the Overtime for Me” in 1983, and Michael Holman’s TV show dedicated to Hip Hop music entitled Graffiti Rock.
The New York City Breakers reached the height of their popularity when they were invited by Frank Sinatra to perform at Ronald Reagan’s Inaugural Gala in 1984. 10-year-old “Lil’ Alex” who was taught to B-Boy by Matthew “Glide Master” Caban also performed at the presidential event and wowed TV audiences with his phenomenal dance skills. This event marked the first time a Hip Hop group or artist performed for a sitting president and is also considered a landmark for the acceptance of Hip Hop culture in America.
That same year, the New York City Breakers also became the first B-boys to release an instructional video and album (Break-Master) which went gold and broke down steps on how to hold a competition. They also had the opportunity to help spread Hip Hop internationally by performing for England’s Prince Andrew and the King and Queen of Norway and performed with artists like Grandmaster Flash and the Furious Five, the Cold Crush Brothers, Dr. Dre, KRS-One, Doug E. Fresh and MC Shan. Unfortunately, the group received devastating news that Matthew Caban (Glide Master) died in a motorcycle accident during the height of their career.