Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hip hop don't stop

[Disclaimer: If you are offended by a fairly middle-class white man talking about breakdancing and repeatedly using the words crews (although not spelling it with a u ) and skillz then you may wish to avoid this post.]

Last night a little piece of 1980s New York came to Hannover in the form of a breakdancing competition (or battle). Not wanting to miss out probably my only chance to see Germany's top B-boy crews in action myself and a few friends went along to see it. The competition was to see who would qualify for the international Battle of the Year final to be held next month (you can also currently see a recording of the whole of last night's event at that website). Before going along we were a bit dubious about that quality of dancing that we'd be seeing (we had pictures in mind of fairly stereotypical German youth's trying in vain to spin on their heads) and also whether we'd stick out as obviously not from the German hip hop scene. Both these worries were fortunately not born out and when we arrived there was a diverse enough crowd for us to not look out of place (although jakeybob bringing along some garlic in his bag was considered a bit strange!)

The competition consisted of 12 competing crews from around the country with names like Big Bang (the local Hannoverian crew, who got a huge reception from the home crowd), Incredible Syndicate, Street Beatz, etc, each of which performed a 10 minute choreographed performance. These ranged in quality, but each crew had something original to show and generally had at least a couple of star performers who could pull off the biggest power moves. One of the most audacious moves was from one of the Berlin crews (Street Beatz I think) which had an under-10 years old looking boy who they used as a kind of skipping rope! Some teams tried to have a bit of a story in there routines, some had a few props, whilst others just tried to showcase individual skills. The teams who fared worst generally were a bit younger and didn't have anyone strong enough to pull off the major moves.

After each crew had show their skillz four semi-finalists were chosen. The semi-finals were in a proper crew face-off battle like you'd see on the mean streets of the Bronx (or in the Run DMC vs. Jason Nevins It's Like That video). This gave each crew member the chance to show off what they could do, but also gave the whole team a chance to show of some big preprepared set pieces (for example forming your crew into a cock and jizzing silly string onto the others!), with the difficultly level of the moves, and the good natured antagonism between the crews, building as the battle progressed. These were when some of the most impressive moves came out. The team that won overall were TNT who did seem to have some of the best skills, including a guy who span around on the palms of his hands (which caused something of a mini pitch/dance floor invasion from certain parts of the crowd), but were a bit too arrogant and twatish to be actually likable.

One of the most difficult things about the whole night was trying to stop myself from attempting some dancing. When the vibe's in the air it's hard not want to break into a bit of body-popping (of which there was disappointingly little from the crews) or spinning around on the floor.