“Best BBoy Goes First”

Words by Jenkin Au
Pictures by Jenkin Au and Jarvis Ho

I was late. What was I late for? I was late for one sick dance battle, “Play Your Cards Right”. Hosted by Arthur Tiojanco, in conjunction with his birthday, titans clashed together at the battle ground.

At the turntables was DJ Flipout, emceeing was Arthur himself, judges were BBoy Twixx, Jeromeskee and Ashuno, and the competition was high and mighty. The night started off with lots of warm-ups and people showing their stuff on the dance floor. The music was pumping with old school and classic hip hop with occasional flavours of new school. Before the competition started, people were snapping their fingers, clapping and cheering every time DJ Flipout played a dope mix.

This battle showed what Vancouver is all about: a mosaic of people from all over the world. Indeed, there were kids from 10 years old up to adults in their late 30’s; there were guys and girls (although not many girls breaking), and there were Caucasians, Blacks, Chinese, Filipinos, and more. Despite the age gap and the cultural differences, these bboys and bgirls all had their universal language: dance and music.

The battle went down like this: 1 vs. 1 or crew vs. crew. There were 16 head-to-headers, split up into two groups of eight. After the first round, one group was eliminated, and the victorious group would be split down in half again, and again, until finally, it was head to head. The crew battles were crew vs. crew until only two were left; then it was head to head crew battle. On the duct taped down dance floor was the heat of the battle. As DJ Flipout spun some sick tracks from back in his time, bboys and bgirls exchanged looks, mentally saying, “you’re going down.” After the round was over, they came together and gave each other props and high-fives. That’s how the scene goes; support one another. There weren’t any points or scores; it was simply, “point to the best one,” and majority ruled. Results were undisputed and the contestants accepted their fate like champions. Props were distributed with no discrimination.

But what were the judges looking for? I caught up with one of the judges, BBoy Twixx from the Massive Monkees crew, representing Seattle, to ask him a few questions.

How long have you been in this game?

Going on about 14 to 15 years. I started in junior high school about grade 9, freshman year, in ’95, ’96, up until now, 2009, 2010.

As a judge, what do you look for when you’re judging these battles?

I take my judging very seriously just because the Massive Monkeys, ourselves, have been in the position where a lot of our battles should have gone the other way, just due to some judges not paying attention. I look at everything. I stay educated on all the different styles, whether you’re doing a circus style or a real old school fundamental style or a new evolution crazy move style. It’s all about execution and how much in control of the dance you are in, not the dance controlling you; not only to be able to do a move, but to be able to prove it, like in basketball. There are people that shoot 100 free throws a day, but when it comes down to it, they have to be able to prove it when it counts. That’s what it’s all about; when you’re in a competition, you’re dancing under pressure. The victor will come out to be who’s the cleanest, who freezes the hardest, who rocks the beat the best, and all around, everything they need to be doing, they hit it the hardest.

Where do you think the skill level is at in this competition?

In this competition, you see a lot of up and comers. You see the new generation kids that have been dancing maybe a year or two, up to the ones that have been dancing for seven to eight years. You get a lot of diversity when it comes to experience level. You have you beginners, intermediates, and advanced. It’s really good for the advanced to do because they get to see the newer generation coming up that is right behind them, and it gives them more reason to keep practicing and maintaining that status that they gained. It also gives the beginners something to look forward to and gradually practice for and constantly reach for the top spot of the bboy they idolize. It’s a give and take relationship; the experienced cats, they get to give, and the inexperienced cats get to take, but in taking, they are actually giving; it’s a cycle.

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This event was smooth and successful. Each player played their part and elevated the level of HYPE at this event, and there were plenty. The victors of the battles were Shogo and Dean of The Shirtless Flying Shogo for the crew battles, and it was Rory Rocket from Filthee Feet that won the solitaire battle. After asking many of the bboys that competed, it was a general consensus that everyone was having a good time, whether they advanced or not and whether they did their best or not. It was definitely well played.