“You will always find me in the club”

T-breaks meets a master of the old school… 100% dancer – Sammy The One!

“Sammy! This guy taught me how to dance when I was 14!”  Ashley Banjo

sammy the one old school hip hop bboy dancer

Sammy recently scooped the Yorkshire hip hop teachers award, with over 500 votes.  With his wife Nic they run a SDK dance school with over 160 pupils.

Early 80s – The Early Days of UK Bboy and Hip Hop

It started for Sammy like so many British people of our generation (cough cough: 40 plus) – with the birth of hip hop in the UK in the early 80s.  Up until then he had been taught reggae dancing by his sisters from the age of 9.

His first brush with hip hop came in 1984 outside Roxys in Sheffield. “Crews dancing were Smak19, Street Crew, Positive Force, and our soon to be crew Enemy Squad* with Milsin and a beatboxer called Gregory Edwards.  Smak 19 were the best” says Sammy enthusiastically.

*NOTE:  Enemy Squad is not the Hungarian crew of the same name*

“One move and you could join a crew, so you practised that one move to try and make it happen. I was never a great bboy, but I could windmill, worm and pop and I loved it.”

Bboying made stars of kids previously unnoticed, kids from council estates, and brought all colours and backgrounds together.   But there was a sting in the tail – it seemed no sooner had bboying arrived, that by 1987 it had completely vanished.

“Some bboys were hit hard when this happened; it sent many of them a little crazy.  They had fame and acceptance and minor celebrity status on the streets, then suddenly it was taken from them.  To break was suddenly viewed as something from school, bboys were laughed at.  Some went into house music, martial arts, drugs or just disappeared.  It was a real shame to see great bboys lost like this.  I kept on dancing, hype and jazz dance.” 

1987-97  UK Bboy and Hip Hop

Sammy then started to visit the clubs around 1989 and became a recognised face on the dance floor.

*Sammy has never drank a drop of alcohol or taken an illegal drug so this is certainly not a tale of excess.

On why club dancing is so important to him he says:

“It’s where you learn to interact with non bboys while dancing, you learn performance, acting, you learn how to communicate your art to non dancers.  I still hit the clubs three times a week and I’m 42!”

Being noticed in the club began a “Forrest Gump-esque” tale of successive stories dancing for the stars.   

Sammy the One timeline of dance

1984: Finds Bboying

1987-1990: Moves into jazz and hype dance
1988: Kicked out of home for wanting to following passion for dance, moves around various northern cities homeless until secures council flat and settles

1990: Becomes part of the dance crew on TV show ‘The Hitman and Her’

You’ll see Sammy bobbing around at 15 minutes 50 secs

1992-1994
Dances in New York, Switzerland, Sweden, Italy, Germany and France with The Prodigy
Dances on LFO tour (with Nightmares on Wax) with crew TDK
Steady from Flawless enters TDK
Battles RPM (Cookie Crew dancers) in London in front of Westwood with TDK (and wins)
Dances on The Word and Dance Energy with MC Duke, Caveman, Son of Noise and more
1994-1997
Through the Westwood connect, dances with Busta Rhymes, Lil Kim, Naughty By Nature, Jay Z, Lil Ceasar, Biggie Smalls
(When asked what was Biggie like, Sammy says: “Smoked a lot and just a really nice man.”)

Dancers on football film “When Saturday Comes” with Sean Bean
More TV appearances with Mariah Carey, Outkast, Madonna, MTV Awards, FBI and more.

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1997

Meets Little Tim, Tim shows him next level b-boying and they become friends
2000: Sammy and Tim win Urban Games, knocking out Mouse and his partner Care Bare in the semis, and beating Sonic and Dave in the finals
2001: Sammy joins DJ Hooch’s UK Allstars Crew
2002: More TV appearances with Little Tim, plenty of brushes with the stars

I asked Sammy what knowledge was gained from being around all these stars:

“Wyclef once gave me some advice I have never forgotten. He visited our dressing room after the MTV awards in Stockholm and said “really good show, when you get home DON’T THINK THE PHONE WILL RING, get up and MAKE IT RING”.

2007: Leanski (Flava Sqaud founder) asks Sammy to head up Flava Squad UK

sammy n leanski flava squad hip hop bboy leeds

2011: Sammy wins Dirty 30s World Title
2014: Sammy wins Speak to the Streets Yorkshire Hip Hop Teacher Award

QnA with Sammy The One

How do you teach hip hop?

“I kept the classes interesting and educational and most of all fun. And drop the knowledge in as we go along. It’s a must students learn how the dance links in with all the elements.”

You employ 4 teachers – what do you look for in a teacher?

“I look for a kind, patient person, must have a knowledge of looking after kids, know your hip hop and artform.”

What’s your proudest moment dancing?

“I danced for the queen in front of 20 people at Derby Football Stadium. She was very complimentary. Also winning 2011 Dirty 30s at 40!”

Who have you taught along the way?

“Steady from Flawless and Ashley Banjo are the most famous.”

Who is your favourite ever dancer?

“2, The Nicholas Brothers and Michael Jackson.”

Who is the best dancer you have worked with?

“Dee from TDK. He taught me so much.”

Who do you train with?

“Flava Squad UK.”

As a previous champion: why is the Dirty 30s important?

“It reminds Bboys who are 30s they still have a role to play in the culture.”

Favourite bboy of all time?

“Ivan, K-mel, Menno.”

Favourite MC?

“Big Daddy Kane & KRS 1.”

Favourite graffiti artist?

“DEE (TDK).”

Favourite beatboxer?

“Rahzel.”

Any dietary tips to keep going into your 30s and beyond?

“Eat proteins and sleep well.”

sammy with k-mel hip hop leeds

Finish this sentence..

Back in the 80s we wore……… shell suits and any trainers with thick laces. Oh, and gazelle glasses!

 Thank you Sammy,  great work with the school, keep inspiring the youth and see you in the club.

Resident teacher at So Damn Creative, Lidgett Lane, Dinnington & head of the UK Flava Squad.

He teaches Breakin Wednesdays 5-6pm and Friday 4.30-5.30pm.

Popping Monday 6-7pm and Fridays 5.30-6.30pm.

University of Sheffield Hip-Hop Dance Society on Wednesdays and Thursdays at the student union.

Sammy also Judges at events across the UK.