Junk's breaking- a history of John (Junk) from Second To None and the Second To None Crew
I started breaking in 1984 after seeing some boys in my local disco dancing to 'Streetdance' by ‘Break Machine’. A few months later I saw 'Breakdance' The Movie and 'Beat Street'. Since then I was hooked and would practice in my Dad's bar on the dancefloor for hours. Some of my mates would come over and we would practise our ‘backspins’, ‘hand-glides’ and try to figure out the ‘windmill’.
By 1984 in Bournemouth there were a several crews – ‘Shock City’, ‘Universal Rockers’, ‘South Style’ were the main ones. By 1985 it was decided to take the best members of all of these crews and put them into one elite crew and the name ‘Second To None’ was given to this crew. When ‘Second To None’ was formed I was in it along with members Steve Kerr, Terry Shaw, Paul Spencer, Mark Neale, Tony Penfold, Martin Henwood, Frazier Moore and popper ‘Spike’. Soon afterwards it was decided that I was not good enough for the crew and I was thrown out along with Mark Neale. Mark Neale gave up after that but I carried on, others drifted off too so by late 1985 the ‘Second To None’ crew comprised of Steve Kerr, Terry Shaw, Paul Spencer & Tony Penfold.
During this time I would break with ‘Second To None’ but would not take part in official shows or battles, I wanted to get good enough to get back in so I would train really hard, many hours every day. Between 1984 and ’87 we would go every Saturday afternoon to a club in Bournemouth centre called ‘Madison Joe’s’, it was open to all ages and they would play Hip Hop and Soul music, everyone who was into breaking would go there along with crews from other areas. Many battles would go on and the club was always packed out. Two brothers were going up there around late ’85 and they were called Darrel and Asa, they got really good in a short space of time and by ’86 they were in ‘Second To None’.
By 1985 Tony and I had been going to London and we had seen breakers like ‘Ozzy’s Crew’, ‘Live To Break’, ‘Rock City’ and one move we had seen which really caught our attention was the ‘Tic Tac’ head spin or ‘Pumps’ as they were also known. I had seen ‘Ozzy’s Crew’ in Covent Garden doing ‘Tic Tacs’ – head spins when you put your hands down every turn and keep going. I really wanted to learn this so in 1985 I started practising it. In late 1985 I went to ‘Freestyle ‘85’ in Covent Garden and saw for the first time ‘Tic Tac’ head spins where after so many turn using hands the head spinner would then glide and keep going without hand, not for 2 or 3 turns but over 20!. When I saw this for the first time I was amazed and so practised even harder at my ‘Tic Tac’ and in 1986 Tony Penfold who up to that time was a popper started to practise ‘Tic Tacs’ as well. In 1986 one Saturday afternoon around May at ‘Madison Joe’s’ a breaker from ‘Live To Break’ came down and his name was Peter Edwards and he was a massive influence to us when it came to heap spins. Peter Edwards was amazing at head spins and had a really good style to his ‘Tics’ and ‘Pump’, he also showed us how to make the heap spin hats, a woollen hat with deckchair covering sewn on to the top, piece of sponge inside with elastic to hold it on tight. This type of hat we have used ever since and I think every breaker around the world would does ‘pumps’ will either wear this or a skate board helmet. We did use skate helmets for a while but preferred the hat.
After seeing Peter Edwards doing his pumps, Tony and I were training hard to get them too. We thought long and hard about the technique of this move and came to the conclusion that the key to the glide was to get the ‘Tic Tacs’ very fluent without wobbling, and most important to keep your legs open all the time whilst doing them and not to open and shut them on each turn. We figured that you could do them either with legs open like a ‘V’ or one leg forward, one leg back like a ‘half swastika’ shape and when you are going fast and were steady that all you had to do to glide was just hold your body rigid and the momentum would do the rest. We both trained our head spins for hours everyday till our heads were sore as hell and we both had thinning out hair on the tops of our heads! But we were making progress fast, Tony cracked the glide first and by summer of ’86 he could glide many turns. At U.K. Fresh Tony did a head spin that was nearly as good as our mentor Peter Edwards. I was behind Tony in the head spin race but not too far, in the autumn of ’86 I did my first glide and by the end of the year I could do over 20 glides.
It took me another year to get my heap spin really consistent and get the shape and style good, I was also practising other moves really hard too like ‘halos’, ‘halo uprise’, ’windmill uprise’, ‘no handed windmill’ and ‘swipes’. In early ’87 I got my no-handed windmill which I had been trying to get for ages and started to get halos too.
In later 1986 there were 2 very good breakers from Portsmouth who would come down to Bournemouth regular, they were called Nick Palmer and Wayne. They had been in the crews ‘The Masters’ and ‘Different Class’ before and had been going up to London and battling London Crews, they were as good as anyone in London at the time. The other members of their crews were starting to give up so Steve Kerr asked them to join ‘Second To None’ so they did. Nick was an all rounder and was exceptional for the time, he could do every move and was very good at ‘1990’s’ and ‘turtles’. Wayne was also an all rounder but his most special move was a ‘no-handed-headspin from standing’, he would jump onto his head from standing up and without putting his hands on the floor would go into a spin, sometimes he could get several turns from it.
By the autumn of ’87 I had got good enough to be re-instated back into ‘Second To None’, I had ‘pumps’, ‘no handed windmill’, ’halo uprise’ and ‘halos’ by this point. Other members of ‘Second To None’ were either leaving or had left and given up- Steve Kerr left in early ’88 along with Paul Spencer, Terry Shaw had gone by ’87 so the crew line up was Nick Palmer, Wayne, Tony Penfold, Darrel Harding, Asa Harding and John (myself). Wayne left a bit later on so the crew line up was what it would be for the next 2 decades with the addition of Adam in ’92.
In 1988 –’89 breaking really died in the U.K., we carried on but in ’89 there was only a couple of crews and a scattering of breakers around the U.K.. We used to get a lot of criticism for still being into breaking when everyone else was either into ‘new jack swing’ or ‘acid house’. No one seemed interested in breaking during this time and we would go to lots of hip hop jams around the country and often be the only ones breaking at them. In the summer of ’89 Tony and I had were walking around the Charing Cross and Covent Garden areas of London when we were approached by a German breaker, he had seen our puma tops and trainers and knew that we were breakers. He introduced himself as Akim Walter (aka Zeb-rock-ski or Zebster), he told us that breaking was massive in Germany and that there are jams every week. We were surprised by what we heard and we went to Charing Cross tube station to do some breaking with him, he liked our moves and he invited us to go and stay with him in Germany later on.
In November 1989 Tony, Nick and I went to stay with Akim in Germany and we went to a jam in Munich. At this jam we met ‘Battle Squad’ – Storm and Swift who were the top breakers in Germany at this time. We showed them our head spins, they had never seen the glides before and were also impressed by our style. We entered a battle as well but can’t remember where we came. A bit later on Tony was out in Berlin with ‘Storm’ and he demonstrated the ‘Pencil Headspin’, this is a continual spin with legs straight and together that you go into from the ‘glide’. Storm learned this technique from Tony.
In late ’89 and early ’90 Tony had been filming us training at our local youth club, the footage was mainly of Nick, Asa and Darrel featured many moves and combination that were very ahead for the time. He sent copies to ‘Rapid Fire’ in Australia and ‘Battle Squad’ in Germany as well as others and that tape became legendary as copies of it got sent around the world.
A few months after the German trip Akim invited us to do a T.V.show on prime time Z.D.F. channel. The show was all about the 80’s and we were to dance with ‘Battle Squad’ and others. On that T.V. show there was Tina Turner, Phil Collins, Chris Deburg, ‘Aha’ plus many others. We went on straight after ‘Aha’.
In 1990 Nick and I went to the first ‘Battle Of The Year’ in Hannover, it was not even called ‘Battle Of The Year’ but was called then ‘The Breakdance Cup’ the name was changed later on. Because there were only two of us we hooked up with some German breaker, we won that first competition.
Later in 1990 Nick, Asa and I went to ‘C.H. Fresh’ and ‘Storm’, ‘Swift’, ‘Mauritzio’ were there along with many others, a battle started between ourselves and ‘Storm’, ‘Swift’, ‘Mauritzio’. That battle has become legendary and videos of it have circulated around the world for many years after.
In the early 90’s we were going out to Germany and Switzerland all the time.
In 1992 Adam joined the crew although he was not always around , sometimes we would not see him for several months when he would go back to Portsmouth where he came from.
Also In 1992 we went to ‘Battle Of TheYear’ and although the battle with ‘Storm’ and ‘Swift’ has been controversial I must say our side of it. The circumstances for that battle were not favourable to us, we had travelled for nearly 24 hours on the train and ferry from Bournemouth U.K. to Hannover Germany. We had had no sleep during the journey, the ticket inspectors on the trains in Germany would come round every half hour and wake you up to see your tickets. We got to Hannover tired and as any b-boy will know, when you have had no sleep and hardly anything decent to eat you just have not got the strength you would have normally. Of course ‘Storm’ and ‘Swift’ had slept well as they would have only come from Berlin the day before. We did the battle with ‘Storm’ and ‘Swift’ and for some reason Tim and Tom from ‘Always Rockin’ Tuff’ decided to join in on our side. No disrespect to them but they were not up to the standard of us but they seemed to take up floor time and chances for us to go out were thin on the ground so we did not even get to do all our stuff. The crowd was totally biased towards ‘Storm’ and ‘Swift’ and when they would do something and the crowd would go mental and when we would do something as good and they would not react. I can’t say I blame the crowd , we were on their turf battling their top breakers with only two of them and about eight of us. What it should have been was the five of us against ‘Storm’ and ‘Swift’ with some others to balance the numbers and us flown out there so we were fresh, In those days flights were expensive and promoters would not pay for them, we often got the train to places as far as Switzerland or sometimes we drove. ‘Storm’ and ‘Swift’ were good and fit to be able to carry out a battle with only two but the stuff we did was also good if you filter it down to just us but who won is a matter of opinion.
In 1993 we did a small talent show in our local town and although we did not win this talent show (normally things like this can’t be won because the general public don’t understand breaking), we were the only act to get picked to go on ‘The Barrymore Show’, that was our first U.K. T.V. appearance, the first of many.
In 1994 I planned a trip to Europe, it was to be an indefinite stay. I was taking a camper van and would go on tour. Adam and Asa came along and we went to Paris, Germany, Switzerland and Holland.
During that trip to Europe we were breaking every day on the streets busking and going to jams all the time, we had nothing else to do. We would break so much that our bodies would ache like hell but the next day we would do it all again. Asa who was a very quick learner was one of the most natural breakers I had ever come across, I would make up a power move combination on the spot and Asa would just do it. We went to a jam in Frankfurt, we picked up the other members of ‘Second To None’ from the airport before the jam. Everyone who was anyone in Europe was there and Asa was on such top form, so fit from all the breaking we had been doing, a circle started with ‘Storm’, ‘Swift’ ,’Evo’ and many others but that day belonged to Asa, the power and spontaneity of his moves was incredible, lots of breakers just backed off from that circle. Tony and I have often talked about that jam and without being biased at that time Asa was probably the top b-boy in the world, we feel he is under rated because his peek was just before the video and internet revolution so a lot of today’s people just have not seen him as he was then.
We were out there for two months and we had many battles, went to many jams, did enough breaking to last a life time and had more escapades and mishaps to fill a book, but that’s a story for another time. I wanted to stay longer but Adam and Asa wanted to go home so after two months we came back to the U.K.
By late ’94 I had got my ‘flares’ good, I could do over ten turns but being as I was long legged could not get them up to what Nick and Asa could do. I also had lots of other moves coming on, ‘cross legged windmill’ and in ’95 I learned the ‘headspin’ where you have your legs straight and together but feet pointing near the floor, this type of ‘headspin’ would always get noticed, it looked so bizarre to a lot of people. Tony and I did a dual ‘headspin’ routine in the ‘U.K. B-Boy Championships 1997’ with this type of ‘headspin’.
Around 1995 I noticed that breaking was getting more popular, we were going to a lot of jams in London and there were more and more breakers each time we went. In 1996 we heard about a breaking contest at the Sheppard’s Bush Empire, it was called ‘The U.K. Breakdance Championships’ later to known as ‘The U.K. B-Boy Championships’. We won that first competition and we also won it in 1997. By that time breaking was getting bigger and bigger and we go offered to go onto T.V. shows ‘Blue Peter’ and ‘This Morning’.
After the two ‘U.K. Championship’ wins and the T.V. shows our gig offers went through the roof, we were doing shows and jams all over the place and did several music videos as well as other T.V. shows big and small, the big ones were ‘Top Of The Pops’, ‘Jim Davidson’s Generation Game’,‘Reeves And Mortimer’.
In 1998 we entered the ‘U.K. B-Boy Championships’ again but I must admit we made a bit of a mess up of our showcase routine. Show routines were never our thing, we are really a battle crew and we would never get it together to rehearse a routine. We always left it to the last minute to put something together and sometimes it would work and other times it would not work. This time is defiantly did not work. As a result we only came third place, our problem with show case routines is why we never did that well in ‘Battle Of The Year’ and that is why we stopped going in for ‘Battle Of The Year’ after 1993. We did battle U.S. crew ‘Style Elements’ though and that was an amazing battle.
By 1998 our reputation was massive and offers of appearance bookings were coming in like crazy, we were doing all kinds of stuff and going all over the place. We would go all over the U.K. and out to Europe too, we did jams, events and clubs as well as music videos and T.V. clips.
In 2001 Adam and I entered the ‘Urban Games’ in London, this was a crew battle one day and a 2 on 2 the next day. We entered the 2 on 2. We kept getting through rounds and we must have done 4 rounds and we were put through to the finals straight after a battle. We were worn out from all the previous battles and Adam’s wrist was playing up so we let it go to the other duo we had just beaten, we just were not up for doing another battle.
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Junk breaking C.V. – danced either as individual or with crew ‘Second To None'
Won U.K. B-Boy Championship 1996 & 1997
Got to final of Urban Games 2001
was on t.v. shows
Top Of The Pops
Plus many clips for trailers etc
was in music videos
'History Repeating' Propeller Heads Feat. Shirley Bassey
Club and events all over U.K.