Back To Beat Street: Photos of Hip-Hop In The Bronx Back in the 1980s

Sophie Bramly spent 1982 to 1984 photographing clubs and culture in the Bronx.

Mr Freeze stepping out with his boombox


Sophie Bramly spent 1982 to 1984 photographing clubs and culture in the Bronx. The New York borough was home to new sound and look.

Her pictures of breakdancers auditioning for the movie Beat Street at the Roxy (515 West 18th Street), the likes of Mr Freeze with his boombox. MCs and graffiti are compiled in the book Yo! The Early Days of Hip Hop 1982-84, published by Soul Jazz Books.


The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

Zephyr and Fab Five Freddy at the Beat Street audition at the Roxy, 1984

The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

B-Side, Amad Henderson (co-founder of the Zulu Nation) and Afrika Bambaataa, in front of Greene Street Recordings

Beat Street features a performance at the Roxy by Afrika Bambaataa, and appearances by: Soulsonic Force, Jazzy Jay, Doug E. Fresh, Bernard Fowler, the New York City Breakers – Beat Street Breakers, the Rock Steady Crew, Crazy Legs and Grandmaster Melle Mel & the Furious Five, among others.


The Beastie Boys

The Beasite Boys

The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

The Bronx River Center

“All these photos speak for a time that is so special, is never coming back and changed the world,” said Grand Mixer D. St. “It’s pretty much this experience that changed everything for ever. What makes it amazing, is that you hear stories about superheroes that changed the world, and that was us.”


The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

Scorpio of the Furious Five backstage.

The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

Muhamad, of the Magnificent Force Breakdance Crew, at The Bronx River Center

Grandmixer D.ST

Grandmixer D.ST

The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

Futura takes the Subway

Futura and Keith Haring at the Fun gallery, in front of one of Futura’s paintings

Futura and Keith Haring at the Fun gallery

The Roxy Bronx

The Roxy

Disco Fever

The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

D.ST at home in his recording studio

Breakdancer doing the crab at the Roxy during auditions for Beat Street Beat Street was a film which, when it came out in 1984,

At the auditions for Beat Street

The Bronx 1980s hip-hop

Afrika Bambaataa and DJ Kool Herc at the Zulu Nation anniversary party, Bronx River Center

Lead Image: Breakdancer Mr Freeze with his boombox

Would you like to support Flashbak?

Please consider making a donation to our site. We don't want to rely on ads to bring you the best of visual culture. You can also support us by signing up to our Mailing List. And you can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. For great art and culture delivered to your door, visit our shop.