⇒ enter the Cipher

a cipher @ cypher adikts
In cryptography, a cipher (or cypher) is an     algorithm for performing encryption or decryption—a series of well-defined steps that can be      followed as a procedure.

A ‘Cipher’ in Hip-Hop culture represents an exchange of artistic ideas in the form of a human circle. These circles are conventional rituals and are primarily performed orally(rap/beatbox) or physically(dance); each artist takes their turn in illustrating their own interpretation.

Furthermore, Ciphers, or “Freestyle Circles“, embody the development of Hip-Hop’s arts; this interchange is the main component for aligning the culture with its roots, which maintains its authenticity.
Here are a couple key reasons why Ciphering is crucial to sustaining Hip-Hop’s true personality:

  • the concept of one-upmanship: to be inspired by the person before you and to flip(re-invent) their idea. Regarded as the informal contest to see who exhibits a stronger sense of originality, creativity, and skill, the “street nature” of these artistic dialogues often lead to head on rivalry…
  • Cipher Battles! 1 VS 1 skirmishes in tight spaces are often the highlight of every circle; they are miracle moments that allow artful warriors to catch spiritual highs, revealing their true character. (Battles are sometimes misinterpreted as hostile combats that could escalate, but, 99% of battles end in peaceful handshakes and camaraderie.)

To sum up: Hip-Hop’s traditions of dispute, using nonviolent forms of creative warfare, constantly challenges its members to elevate their craft.

Additionally, there are unwritten laws about how one approaches and behaves in each circle: all Ciphers have their own secret system of trade, hence each Cipher has its own secret code. Thus, every person who wishes to participate must enter the ring with – in the words of Bruce Lee – the mind of an empty teacup–ready to adapt, be tested, and survive.



Breakin', or, 'Breakdance' (in mainstream terms) is historically a male dominated culture.

After 11 years of experience, I have been fortunate enough to witness the multitude of Hip-Hop communities across the globe, and I have become acutely aware of a lack of female Breakers at home in Vancouver, Canada.

Where are the B-Girls at?

Breakdance ‘jams’ or ‘battle’ events in Vancity often suffer from B-Girl scarcity; this unbalance of yin and yang energy results in an overtly aggressive atmosphere, which often creates an unappealing vibe. Without this balance, it is no wonder our community has so much difficulty growing.

Two possibilities why:

a) Male breakers do not address this issue with themselves and each other. There is not enough of a conscious effort to include and help B-Girls thrive. (Not that B-Girls need help with their skills, See ‘CONTINUE READING)

i. there is a shortage of suave, savvy, B-Boys who share the dance circle with unwritten etiquette. Too many ‘shark’ the shared space, hunting for confrontations.
ii. there is an assumption that B-boys neglect personal hygiene. (Dancing for hours and sweating profusely and you don’t use deodorant? Come on, BRO.)

b) Females commonly find the dance style itself to be intimidating.

Admittedly, Breakdance, is seen as an hostile and sometimes painful style of dance, requiring extreme athletic ability and considerable upper body strength.

That is not always true.

I believe this intimidation stems from an outdated, overarching societal notion that girls are raised to be ‘soft’ and ‘delicate’ while boys are meant to be ‘tough’, and ‘aggressive.’

By comparison: what about the physical extremes of Ballet – a dance style more common (and more socially accepted) for females? A closer look reveals an exceptionally demanding practice. Although both Breaking and Ballet have completely different form and focus, they rival each other in discipline, technique, and dedication.

Truthfully, the idea of spinning on your head  might not resonate with aspiring B-Girls, but let’s break it down: the head-spin move is an icon – a Breakdance trademark – but it is only an element of what we do; it does not embody the essence of our dance.

After teaching Breakdance to kids for the last 8 years, I’ve managed to assemble an exclusively B-Girl class. After educating them about the true form – not just acrobatic tricks – they realized that this Boogie style could be satiated simply with Toprock grooves and intricate Footwork emphasized with simple, stylish freezes. In short: it was accessible, enjoyable, and real.

As a teacher, participant, and figure within this community, I strive for a future where B-Girling will always be considered a viable art form. We have come to a place where what was meant as a positive outlet for everyone has been misconstrued. Today’s conventions have created a gender divide within this culture.

It is time to shift our perspective in the way we associate gender roles with Breakin’, and allow a new one to flourish.


Continue reading B-GIRLS