The Style Elements Crew, who celebrate their 19th anniversary this weekend at Roosevelt Community Center in San Jose, are recognized in the hip-hop and dance community as one of the leading West Coast breakdancing crews.
They started in 1994 right here in the Bay Area, a culturally diverse crew, with all original core members from Stockton, Modesto and San Jose. They relocated to L.A. in the early 2000s but wanted to bring their 19th-anniversary party back to San Jose to acknowledge their roots.
Breaking was stagnant in the United States when the crew was created, but Style Elements was able to bring new life to the scene with new moves and individuality, with each crew member having a very distinctive, very personal style. “If you’ve seen how modern breakdancing has evolved, you know how everyone’s on their hands doing crazy moves—they’re flying and they’re doing handstands,” says Andrew “A-Game” Mam, who joined Style Elements in 2011. “People are dancing upside down using their freezes and momentum. So much of the dance’s evolution came from Style Elements.”
In addition, Style Elements were one of the first crews to incorporate group routines in breaking competitions. Nowadays, any B-boys and B-girls using group routines in battles, whether they know it or not, were probably influenced by Style Elements. In 1997, Style Elements were the first American crew to win the international B-boy competition, Battle of the Year, which is regarded as one of the biggest, most prestigious events of its kind in the world.The crew’s anniversary party includes a free-form dance party at MACLA on Friday with cypher circles encouraged. Saturday will see a much bigger celebration party at Roosevelt Community Center with various competitions, several different dance crews in attendance and moves from Style Elements.
“The main focus of it is purely dancing; it’s like a party,” says Mam. “We call our events jams because in the beginning ‘jam’ used to mean party. Nowadays, as things have evolved, it’s become very sportslike. It just drags on. Everyone sits down and watches people dance. “Really, the event is for people to have a good time and share energy with some of the nation’s best B-boys and B-girls that come through and represent.”