Sat Nov 24
Dancing is music. Music is politics. Breakdancing is politics. It's a delineation that DJ/B-Boy Bles, one of the organizers and judges of next week's two-on-two breakdancing competition--the biggest Oregon has ever seen--wants to make extremely clear. For Bles, it's not just about breaking. It's a calling: spreading breakdancing to the masses.
"What I really love about breakdancing, is teaching other people how to do it. Watching it spread to small towns, watching it be something brand new to someone--that's what I live for," he says. But spreading breakdancing to small towns also means watching it evolve into the suburbs, and consequently, lose touch of its original, urban roots.
Now, worries Bles, people learn to break by watching the moves of others, rather than inventing the moves themselves, or worse--learning about breaking from television. Bles admits that, sometime in the early '80s, breaking had a five-year death, and now, with its reinvention, hopes it won't be informed by kids who've grown up house dancing in the suburbs. Without an understanding of where breaking came from, it's just a matter of learning a few moves, rather than a comprehensive skill.
"A major reason that breaking is cool again, is that it's showing up in pop culture," he says. "Because of that, it's a lot more about dancing now. I mean, I have friends who are in Christina Aguilera videos," he laughs. "We've still got all those old moves--freezes, fall-backs, all that stuff, but it's influenced by a lot more [pop-culture] dancing, a lot more improv. In a way, it's more creative, but then it's also pushing the limits of [old school] breaking a lot more."
Just like Christina Aguilera is to hiphop, the choreography in her videos is to breakdancing: Softer. Whiter. For Bles and his fellow breakers, there's fear in that loss because, just as hiphop was born of out of a sophisticated political rhetoric, breakdancing was a byproduct of these concerns. Separated from its origins, breakdancing becomes just about the moves and not about a state of mind.
It's this mutual love of breakdancing and concern about where it's going that first inspired the organization of this event. "I've always been annoyed with people who book big acts from out of town and then say that's a chance to [promote] hiphop in Portland," says DJ Zigzag, the major organizer and promoter of Saturday's breakdancing competition. "I mean, I was looking at doing that, and I saw how much money we'd have to dump in to do it, and I thought, 'Geez, we could just have a huge [breakdancing] battle instead.'"
By organizing a breakdancing competition--which are, nationally speaking, a lot less frequent than big hiphop shows--Zigzag saw an opportunity to really put Portland on the map as far as b-boying and hiphop are concerned. And he has definitely accomplished this goal. Breakdancers have signed up from California, Florida, Arizona, Washington, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New Mexico, Texas, and Ohio, for a chance to win. "This way, it's so much more interactive," he explained. "People all across America are going to have to know where Portland is."
Zigzag's competition consists of a $2000 B-boy Battle, a $1000 Emcee battle, a $1000 Deejay battle, and a hiphop dance party afterward. It begins at 4 pm and ends at 2 am, costs $15 to watch, and is open to anyone who'd like to join. To sign up, or for more information, see: www. http://www.hiphoptonight.com/index.shtml