Niels "Storm" Robitzky

It was like a storm“, said the people and shook their head in disbelief at a party in New York in 1991 after he had pulled a vogue dancer, who hadn´t kept the necessary distance, to the ground through his striking Flare-Windmill-Swipe combination. This way Niels Robitzky, who was then called Swipemaster, got his new artist name “Storm”. But above all it was due to Kwikstep and Mr Wiggles who initially called him `Firestorm` or `The storm dude from Germany` when talking about him. Everything started in April 1983, Niels, a young boy of just 13 years, had heard a music piece on the radio with a subsequent interview about “incredible gymnastic dancing”.

niels storm

But the thing that really attracted his attention were the scratching parts in the music. Some weeks later he saw a backslide, then people on TV dancing like robots and spinning on the back – thus his passion for this sort of movement was awakened. At that point of time the teenager from Eutin didn’t know that he will soon consecrate himself wholeheartedly to this dance being so unusual for the former times and that it will change his complete life, his way of thinking and his entire world. With a few class mates he founded his first group “Breakrevolution”, but already after five months it broke apart. In the subsequent years Niels made a lot of efforts to find out as much about B-Boying and Hip Hop in general as it was possible.

Longingly and curiously they were waiting for films like “Beatstreet” or “Body Rock” to be finally released to cinemas and to give them some new ideas and information. Every report, every documentary film was important. Sometimes his mother would wake him up at night because there was a TV program about Hip Hop. If you suddenly found a newspaper report about this dance style, which at that time was a veritable rarity, you could be sure that with that piece of paper you could really please your class mate, Niels Robitzky. A so-called hitchhike ticket, which was a ticket of the German Railways and which allowed you to travel one month all over Germany from the date of issue, made it easier for him and a lot of others to go to different jams and Hip Hop events and to meet many other supporters of this culture.

At the age of 20 years Niels knew that dancing was the only thing he wanted to do and the only thing he could do. To make a name for oneself in this business and to be able to live on it was at that time at least as difficult as it is today. In the end of the 1980ies he primarily earned his money by helping people with moving, by packing furniture, by working in the port of Hamburg or by waiting tables at fairs in order to be able to keep his head above water. Every cent was saved. Everything he possessed at that time was either given, bought on special offer or, if it was not possible in any other way, even stolen. One of the numerous people who improbably influenced Niels and contributed a great part to his development, was Gabin from Aktuel Force. It was at a battle in Antwerp when the Parisian dancer made a One-Hand 1990 after a downrock combination and stopped on one hand and one elbow in the hollowback freeze. It was just incredible. Gabin was the king of that battle. That night a switch was thrown in Niels’ head. Thenceforth nobody could stop him. 3 hours of training per day was the minimum.

Thinking of anything else than moves, steps, combinations and freezes was impossible. Together with his crew and other dancers they were dancing everywhere, regardless of the meaningful views of the passers-by or the fact that their clothes were partly full of dirt afterwards. During that time Niels joined Battle Squad whose other members were Swift, Maurizio, Emilio and later also his younger brother Speedy. Until 1989 most dancers executed the headspin with a helmet. The decisive modernization was due to the influence of the Second to none crew from Bornemouth / England. They were spinning on a netlike material cut of a beach lounger which provided the basis for the headspin cap of today. Tony, one of the members of this English crew, inspired Niels to practice the headspin at all. Since these b-boy caps weren’t available anywhere they tried to sew them themselves.

Endless nights Niels and Kai Eickermann strived towards better and newer designs. “I sewed thousands of them,” says Niels in his book From Swipe to Storm. In May 1991 he flew together with 4 friends for the first time to New York. Among others he met there Kwikstep who at that time was the only leftover dancer in the whole city. He was out to boost the scene in New York again and therefore he took them to his friends in Brooklyn and Coney Island to show them what was going on in Europe in matters of B-Boying. There Niels met Mr Wiggles and Crazy Legs. In the subsequent years Niels travels to this awesome and multifaceted metropolis which can be described as the cradle of the Hip Hop culture several times again. Partially he spends there several months at a stretch and becomes a member of Ghettoriginal with whom he dances a good deal of street shows and learns more and more about the history and the background of Hip Hop, among other things why this art form couldn’t have its origin in no other place in the world than in New York. Actually Storm and his Battle Squad partner Swift wanted to go to the Battle Of The Year 1992 just for watching but due to the fact that their crew name was already put on the poster without their approval and people started to spread rumors they would be afraid, they were pressured and decided to participate in a duo. With this decision they made history. In the finale there were the Rock Steady Family with 8 dancers facing Battle Squad consisting of 2 man only. Battle Squad won. In 1993 he finally started to get jobs and travelled steadily between Paris, Berlin, New York and Amsterdam. Among other things he presented the TV show “Viva Freestyle” together with his colleague Torch. Despite poor payment they both put a lot of effort into it and made reports on the Hip Hop scene all over Europe. The turning point came in 1995.

Niels suffered a slipped disc and came down with tuberculosis. Partially he had to hold his head with his hand in order to be able to get up from the bed. For months he had been dancing with aches and pains, willing to bounce back. But some day nothing worked anymore. Medicine and extreme pains in feet, shoulders and hip joints became his permanent companion. He had to change something, he knew that himself. Was that the end of his career? The end of that what he was living for? Most people would give up at that point cause accepting the fact that you will probably never be able to do something that you love so much – breaking – is unimaginably difficult. Niels, however, found another way.

He attended to Locking and Popping. The change was not easy but it didn’t mean he would stop breaking completely. No, it was only reduced. He realized that he had to take it slow in order to be able to dance after 10 or 20 years further, otherwise he would end up being wheelchair-bound. Nowadays he lives together with his family in Berlin, his adopted home town, but at home he is probably in the whole world. His name can’t be deleted from the chronicles of the Hip Hop history anymore. Jams, dance halls, judging battles, theatre projects, shows, airports, distant countries and a lot of people around the globe who love him, who admire him and who give thanks to him – this is his life today and he loves it and will always strive for this culture and this dance and its acceptance in the society.

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