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High self-esteem, though, can come off as cockiness. "We use our feet as brushes," Mex says. "You get people who say, 'You're whack,' and it's like 'No, you are. Check yourself.' That's the tradition from back in the day. It's all in the way you carry yourself."
Twenty-one-year-old Phillip Albuquerque, whose b-boy name is Spee-D, has been with USC for about two years. He says he's the flipside of Mex. "I'm the power guy of the group first," he says. "I try to do the flares, head spins. But I'm just getting over a neck injury, and my arm is still kind of weak, so I do the footwork for now. But I think I'm a pretty well-rounded b-boy."
Though a few members live in Miami and one in Orlando, USC collectively reps the 954, with the bulk of the crew scattered between Plantation and Deerfield Beach. The average age of the crew is 19, and currently, it has 12 members.
Broward residents and twins Namek and Squid, as well as Trigger, are the founders. Seventeen-year-old Popcorn is, naturally, a popper and regarded as one of the best in America. The other eight combine footwork and power moves.
With that many unique styles in one crew, you can imagine the pressure at a battle. "There used to be a lot of rivalry here, but it's getting better," Mex says. "The scene used to be rough, but the younger b-boys seem to just want to have fun -- no beef, no drama."
Mex cites the jams he's thrown across Florida, such as Outbreak and Civil Warz in Fort Lauderdale, as a source of the change in attitude and camaraderie among b-boys.
"I just do the jams to bring Florida together, and the younger crews decided to participate," he says. "I'm bringing people from out of state too."
USC has done some damage in and out of Florida. It won first place at Pro-Am in Miami, Breaklanta in Atlanta, and 3 the Hard Way in North Carolina and placed at Spinfactor in Boston and B-boy City 10 in Texas. This weekend, Mex is putting on a jam called Yo! Pack It Up! at USC's practice space in Pembroke Pines. The winners go to Rhode Island to represent Florida in the Spinfactor National Championship Finals.
The possibility of breaking becoming a mainstream commodity is very real; ESPN has started televising b-boy competitions, bringing local and national crews into the spotlight. Pop tartress Christina Aguilera featured b-boys in a recent video. Then there are urban dance movies like You Got Served, in which dancers battled with choreographed hip-hop video moves. Some b-boys are concerned that movies like that diminish the grit and creativity of old-school breaking. But Mex says the current state of hip-hop music is more to blame. "People think hip-hop is bling and spinners," he says. "In reality, it's not like that. It's about b-boying, graffiti, MCing, and DJing. I rarely listen to hip-hop -- unless it's the real stuff -- but I listen to the Cure, Radiohead, and Depeche Mode too. You know, there are people who like the Cure who break. I mean, like, I used to have a mullet. You look at my crew and it's like 'How are these guys friends?' I tell some of them, 'Ya know, I wouldn't hang out with you if we weren't b-boying.' That's the common thing. We identify as one."
As USC continues to defy stereotypes as well as gravity, Mex admits he's not nervous about breaking going mainstream. As long as there's a floor, he and his crew will be down.