Crash Kid – Could there be much more of a perfect alias for the young man who brought American subculture to Rome and did so with such a level of vivacity that politics really was as much a part of the party as anything else? The young man behind the name, Massimo was a pivotal figure and not simply in the image of him spinning and pirouetting around the dance floor from the top of his head, as he perfected the iconic dance move of the underground street dance scene, the head spin. He was pivotal in the party scene and in the Friday and Saturday nights of his street dance compatriots, in their vision for their own futures and good times and weekend plans.
This made the street dance scene and the infamous Zulu parties of the 1980s about so much more than a typical anti-mainstream movement. It was also about the enjoyment of these men. These were men looking for a societal fit for themselves. They were reinventing the American alterative street scene. Particularly influenced by such artists as Afrika Bambaataa. The dance styles they were recreating at these parties were forms of reinvention and subcultural expression, as much as they were the concerns of young men looking for the best place to go on a Saturday night. Looking for a good time.
And Massimo was there as a young Roman man who took his place among them. Born in the Portuense neighbourhood, he took to street dance early and as a young man was performing to the music of Davide Headz and DJ Baro from the early nineteen eighties. These men spun a world of their own volition and while it was certainly a language of American subculture that they were intercalating, they were doing it in such a way that was entirely Roman. In a way that was made truly Roman by Massimo and his friends.
On the dance floor at the weekend, this was the place to feel as if their worlds were spinning of their own volition. But it wasn’t all about the party, in 1985 Massimo won the ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition, and in participating in these types of competitions, Massimo really did show himself to be one of the best. He was an excellent dancer and enjoyed the competitive and performance element of the street dance culture itself.
And neither was the street dance movement purely about bringing the mainstream crashing down around themselves, in the attitude and style of punk. Never was it the point to destroy and pull down a mainstream culture, but rather to spin the mainstream to such a point of vertigo that the dizziness would become its own form of cultural descent.
And in this way the movement was very much in keeping with the collaborative and social elements which have always been a key feature of dance. However, in this Roman Breakdance movement, it wasn’t so much about the partnership of dance, but the partnership of the street as these young men and women came together to show off their new Breakdance moves to one another. It was the street meetings and the social hubs, the groups growing out of these parties which were one of the key features of the Street Dance movement.
They gave the opportunity for the youth to congregate and to share their visions. And their dance floor, which could just as often be the street, as it could be the living room of a friend, gave a platform to them. These young people all intuitively understood that the dance floor was an obvious choice for the voicing of their own youth culture and Massimo was a key member among them. “Massimo ‘Crash Kid’ Colonna who head spinned on the world.”
And although the alias itself gives us perfect sense of the centrifugal force which was being used to turn the culture on its head circa 1980s and spin it on the turntables of the city’s Friday and Saturday nights, Massimo also needs to be understood as a man who was capitalising on his energy and his desire to do things differently with a cultural bravado which was never intended to be a lose of equilibrium. This is where the Hip-Hop approach differed from any sense of anarchism. It wasn’t ever about kicking it in, but rather kicking the legs and throwing them in the air, to feel that centrifugal force as a thing which is in yourself and that you are able to launch an overzealously spinning world for yourself.
And Massimo was the Crash Kid, in the arms of his brothers, as he can be seen in ‘Crash Kid, A Hip-Hop Legacy’, a title just published under the Drago label. We see a young man, full of youth and a great sense of his vitality. From Hip-Hop, to Breakdance; a new sense of self and city.
And he is a kid who everyone wants to keep spinning. No one can forget and it is hard to believe that it was essentially the gusto of one young man spinning on his head at dance parties across the city that played a great part in the intercalation of a whole culture of American Hip-Hop music to the dance parties and meeting places of the young across Rome. Massimo Colonna, the ‘Crash Kid’, a young man who danced his way around the city under the very appropriate title.
We keep the kid spinning as best as we can, for really in all the eyes of his compatriots and fellow dances, he is still there, truly spinning of his head as the best kid with a legacy which can never be ended.