Playboyz Inc. Dancers Keep Strutting and Popping Alive in San Jose

In San Jose, dancers create an illusion you can’t look away from. Arms move fluidly, then suddenly lock into place. Feet glide across the pavement. The motions echo across the group in perfect synchronization. They pop, they strut. They’re Playboyz Inc.

Their origin story goes all the way back to 1981, making Playboyz one of the oldest dance crews in the Bay Area. With electro funk blasting, kids gathered in garages, on the streets, in their local rec centers, developing their own variations of a style of street dance that spread up and down the West Coast.

In East San Jose, Playboyz founder Robert Sabala recruited 12-year-old Bryan Moreno (a.k.a. Money B) to join his new dance crew, their moves an extension of their Chicano culture. Friends and family moved in and out of the group over the years, dance moves and street cred traveling by word of mouth and VHS tapes.

“The whole signature San Jose style is super swagged out, smooth, very street,” says current Playboyz member Alex Flores (a.k.a. Prince Ali). “It just reminded me what it was like to grow up here.”

Today, Moreno, who credits dancing with keeping him out of gangs and saving his life, carries on the legacy of the Playboyz with a new group of dancers, some as young as 10.

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“It makes me feel proud that I am from San Jose and that I am able to rep a crew that started in 1981,” says Jeremy Miramontes (a.k.a. Jermz). “I’m proud to keep that name going.”

As a new landscape of glass facades rises in San Jose, the Playboyz capture the essence of a city that shapes their every move. Watch them pop, wave, strut and tut underneath the SJSU Arch of Dignity, Equality, and Justice, through the intersection of Paseo de San Antonio and 4th to the steps of San Jose’s City Hall. --Sarah Hotchkiss

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