YOUNGER GENERATIONS COMING UP AT THE UK B-BOY CHAMPIONSHIPS 2019 (@bboychamps)

ukboy1Organ­ised by Hooch in col­lab­or­a­tion with G-Shock it was a another hugely suc­cess­ful year of the sold-out UK B-Boy Cham­pi­on­ships. Among­st its many changes includ­ing a new ven­ue — Isling­ton Assembly hall, the tra­di­tion of keep­ing its cha­ris­mat­ic and humor­ous host the legendary Crazy Legs (Rock Steady Crew) remained. Legs has become a famil­i­ar ambas­sad­or for Puer­to Rico lead­ing sev­er­al relief efforts in col­lab­or­a­tion with Red Bull after hur­ricane Maria dev­ast­ated the island. Legs is also organ­iser of Puer­to Rock Steady on the island which will this year fea­ture South Bronx rap­per Fat Joe. This year Legs was joined on stage with the UK’s very own host — Sir Swifty. I caught up with Swifty to see how he felt about this oppor­tun­ity, “It’s a dream come true. I wouldn’t have thought all them years ago I’d be host­ing with Legs at Champs”. This is not an isol­ated feel­ing, the UK B-Boy Cham­pi­on­ships now in its 22nd year is one of the most well recog­nised and respec­ted com­pet­i­tions for break­in world­wide. Attract­ing some of the highest level of dan­cers, the cham­pi­on­ship title demands respect and for this reas­on it is a dream for many to be up on this stage in any aspect. Why is this event so renowned? As Swifty put it, its simply, “His­tor­ic and icon­ic. Sim­ple. It’s a part of not just break­ing his­tory but UK and world­wide Hip-Hop his­tory”. With open qual­i­fi­ers for both solos and crews any­one was wel­come to enter.

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Break­in’ is a dis­cip­line which takes ded­ic­a­tion and determ­in­a­tion to suc­ceed, I’ve seen many of the dan­cers here grow and pro­gress. I’ve seen them con­quer per­son­al set­backs and still thrive fuelled by their pas­sion. B-Boy Spin from UK’s Soul Mav­er­icks fea­tures on the offi­cial Champs G-Shock video, the con­cept — ‘Nev­er Give Up’. Beak­in’ is highly demand­ing. The video fea­tures Spin’s advice to new dan­cers on the scene, “to any­one get­ting into any sort of art or dis­cip­line will be to remem­ber it’s not a sprint it’s a mara­thon. Do not give up at the first hurdle as there are many more to come. So make sure you do some­thing that you love because you’re going to have to be per­sist­ent over an extens­ive peri­od of time”. His words could not have more truth to them.

As the Champs began I was per­son­ally hand­ling the battle regis­tra­tions. I was over­whelmed by the 27 crews who signed up, 27 B-Girls and around 130 B-Boys for the Undis­puted solo battles. This could have turned into a logist­ic­al night­mare for Tyr­one (IBE) and the team host­ing the Undis­puted solo battles but every­one pulled togeth­er to get through with per­fect tim­ing, mul­tiple rounds took place sim­ul­tan­eously through three dif­fer­ent circles in order to decipher the top six­teen and move to the finals. Fel­low writer Manny even took to host­ing one of the cyphers, yet another one of his tal­ents. Speak­ing to Hooch who was gleam­ing with joy, he was proud of this achieve­ment, “it can’t get bet­ter than this, the event was sold out and we even had to cap the entrants. Whenev­er you have a new ven­ue to work with there is going to be a learn­ing curve. Get­ting through the num­bers took great organ­isa­tion. There is a great vibe in here”. He was not wrong there, every­one was hav­ing fun.

As the first round of the crew battles com­menced with the sim­ple rules in the interest of time, ‘no routines or com­mandoes’. I saw many famil­i­ar faces includ­ing my crew Nat­ur­al Selec­tions take to the floor, we’d first met sev­er­al years ago at our Uni­ver­sity soci­ety Break­in’ KCL. Earli­er that day I had seen mem­bers of the new­er gen­er­a­tion par­ti­cip­at­ing in the cyphers, the longev­ity felt right. I took a walk around the ven­ue to see people of all ages and nation­al­it­ies, get­ting down to the finest music provided by DJ Dbo also from the UK. The bounce in the floor really brought out the bass.

gun smoke breakers

I took the oppor­tun­ity before the finals to speak with Gun Smoke Break­ers from Osaka, Japan who had won the qual­i­fi­er in Japan of around 30 crews. Yosh told me “There are less old-school bboys enter­ing now so it has opened it up more to new­er gen­er­a­tions”. This notion was rein­forced see­ing young Hiro from their crew, only 14 years old make the top 16 in the Undis­puted solo bboy battle. Gun Smoke Break­ers have been togeth­er for 7 years, but this is the first time they had the oppor­tun­ity to come togeth­er and battle in the UK, “This is a dream come true”. When I asked them their high­light, they told me “we love see­ing bboys from all over the world here hav­ing fun”. It had been a long jour­ney for them to arrive at this point and I was sure regard­less of the out­come they would be proud of their achieve­ments.

I wanted to get a feel for what the event was like for those not in the scene, speak­ing to spec­tat­ors Wayne, Dar­win and Phil from Bournemouth who were at this event for the first time I asked if it lived up to their expect­a­tions. For Dar­win a graf­fiti writer he said, “it has sur­passed my expect­a­tions to be hon­est. I didn’t think break­in was big any­more, I thought it had fizzled out but it’s been wicked”. These fans of Hip Hop had little expos­ure to this ele­ment so I was glad they found this event. Phil told me, “the high­light for me was see­ing those kids battle and all the inter­na­tion­al dan­cers in one place”. I left them prais­ing the event and look­ing for­ward to return­ing next year.

 

BBOYThe kids crew they men­tioned which stole a lot of hearts that day were — Ill Drillerz, con­sist­ing of mem­bers aged 10 – 15,  McLane, Jet­zai, Gust­as, Mega, Finn and Lewi. Hav­ing trav­elled from all over the UK to battle as a crew, they were excited and they were ready for this moment. I asked them how they dealt with their nerves on a big stage, “we are always nervous, but you can’t show it, once we hit the dance floor all the nerves dis­ap­pear”. I could clearly see their crew spir­it and they have a lot of fun train­ing togeth­er, even recently at a tram­po­line park they told me! Their next stop will be to battle at the world’s biggest under 18 crew com­pet­i­tion at Unbreak­able in Bel­gi­um. The best of luck to them.

The world finals began at the even­ing event. Legs took a moment to edu­cate the audi­ence, ‘how many people here are not from the scene?’ he asked as he went on cla­ri­fy it is not called ‘break­dance’ but actu­ally ‘break­in’ or ‘B-Boy­ing and B-Girl­ing’. Also clear­ing up the myth of ‘pop-lock­ing’ which does not exist as it’s an incor­rect term for either ‘pop­ping’ or ‘lock­ing’ both indi­vidu­al dance styles. Then the judges took to the stage to per­form their show­cases.

JUDGESAll inter­na­tion­ally recog­nised for their skills and records for win­ning numer­ous titles. Reneg­ade (UK) was unable to throw­down because of a broken toe. Roxrite (USA) came out with super clean moves and effort­less trans­itions at vari­ous levels. Men­no (Neth­er­lands) with his intric­ate flow­ing foot­work and trans­itions was mes­mer­ising. Then came out the super­hero ‘Thanos’ of B-Boys – Neguin (Brazil) mas­ter of many styles his show­case was explos­ive and really excited the crowd. Last but not at all least was Machine (USA), the B-Boy every­one wanted to be for his ser­i­ous flava and power­ful style. These dan­cers are at the level all dan­cers aspire to be, so it was a great way to open the com­pet­i­tion and a remind­er of why they were chosen to be judges. Manchester’s finest DJ Khan Fu was hold­ing it down on the decks provid­ing the soundtrack to the battles. Red Bull filmed the finals to con­trib­ute to their 36 hours of live bboy stream­ing, which could be been enjoyed by any­one around the world. This did mean a restrict­ive playl­ist for Khan Fu but he still came through with the right tracks to ener­gize the dan­cers bat­tling.

The solo battles began, fol­lowed by the sev­en2s­moke all styles battle hos­ted by, ‘in da House’. Qual­i­fi­ers for this had already taken place and it con­sisted of mul­tiple dance styles from voguing, hip hop to krump and house. This com­pet­i­tion was won by Ice with Hip Hop style.

There was also a show­case by The Beat­box Col­lect­ive who per­formed vari­ous styles of music through only using their vocal cords. As it was revealed MC Zany was named so as he used to be a UK gar­age MC as they went into per­form­ing some clas­sics from the days of UK gar­age such as 21 seconds by So Solid Crew and a little bit of luck by DJ Luck and MC neat had people jump­ing up on the bal­cony in nos­tal­gia with a mod­ern twist.

Another short inter­lude saw a show­case by Magic­al Bones fus­ing togeth­er two of his pas­sions B-Boy­ing and magic he had cre­ated a new con­cept. He per­formed a card trick integ­rat­ing a back­flip which took some of the audi­ence by sur­prise.

Undis­puted Solo Battles B-Boy and B-Girl

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Huge con­grat­u­la­tions to B-Girl Ter­ra (Soul Mav­er­icks) from the UK for win­ning the Solo B-Girl battle! She’s been put­ting in that work. Now aged 12 years old she has improved massively since I first saw her enter the scene with her evid­ent poten­tial. After being presen­ted with the title, Ter­ra took a hold of the mic to let the judges know she deserved this win, “thank you to the judges, I’ve been get­ting robbed lately”, the crowd wailed not expect­ing such sassi­ness from a young B-Girl but in com­plete agree­ment with what she had to say. She owed it, there were no easy props here. I caught up with Terra’s fam­ily to see how she is doing since her win, “Ter­ra is feel­ing great. She is really happy that she won and is excited at where this will take her next. Ter­ra has been work­ing hard for a long time and hopes that this is one of many com­pet­i­tions that she will suc­ceed in”. No doubt. Ter­ra is an inspir­a­tion.

Big con­grat­u­la­tions to Karam (SMAC 19) for win­ning the title of solo B-Boy! Also from the UK and another dan­cer I remem­ber from an early age. He’d cer­tainly been train­ing hard for the win, mak­ing us proud as he’ll be going to the Undis­puted finals in Sweden to rep­res­ent the UK. I found out how he was feel­ing about it all? He told me, “this win per­son­ally is a huge one for me!

ukboywinnerWhen I was young, a UK champs win was everybody’s dream before any­thing else. I first stepped on the world finals stage in 2008 with my crew and it’s always been a spe­cial event from that year. For many years people told me I should do the solos and I said when I’m a little older and more ready I’d go for it. 2017 I fin­ished 2nd place and this year 1st. It feels like my hard work over the last few years has paid off. I’m still in shock a little, super emo­tion­al but over­all I’m sooo happy!!!” Ask­ing him how he thought his win was going to help his break­in’ jour­ney he said, “This is going to help my break­ing jour­ney so much espe­cially through­out the near future because I now get a spot at undis­puted which is some­thing I’ve been train­ing for, for a while now! It means I can rest a little bit more when it comes to Undis­puted events and it means that I have some­thing big to aim for at end the year! It will also open up doors to work with more com­pan­ies and get more invites and oppor­tun­it­ies at oth­er events. Most import­antly, it gives me new motiv­a­tion! I feel so motiv­ated and hungry to go again and I now believe in myself com­pletely”. I couldn’t be hap­pi­er for such a humble and tal­en­ted young B-Boy.

UK B-Boy Cham­pi­on­ship 2019 World Crew Battles

The crew battles began with Gun Smoke Break­ers (Japan) Vs Soul Mav­er­icks (UK), con­sidered as the strongest crews this could have been the final but it was the first battle. Gun Smoke Crew had routines for days I wondered if they got through how many more they would have left, but they clearly came pre­pared. Soul Mav­er­icks came back with routines and strong solo rounds of their own and took the win.  The battle timer on a G-Shock watch face on the main screen was a nice touch as bboys battled it out some hav­ing impress­ively evolved moves to the next level such as one-handed swipes. This is how the battles went down:

Quarter Finals

Gun Smoke Break­ers (Japan) Vs Soul Mav­er­icks (UK)

Ormus (Ita­ly) Vs SMAC 19 (UK)

The Itali­ans (Ita­ly) Vs Ill Eagles (Ita­ly)

Bat­talions (UK) Vs The Tribe (Ger­many)

Semi Finals

Soul Mav­er­icks (UK) Vs SMAC19 (UK)

The Itali­ans (Ita­ly) VS The Tribe (Ger­many)

The Final

SMAC19 (UK) Vs The Itali­ans (Ita­ly)

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The final crew battle between ‘The Itali­ans’ from all dif­fer­ent parts of Ita­ly and ‘SMAC 19’ rep­res­ent­ing the UK was a great battle. Karam who won the solo B-Boy battle less than an hours ago was also a part of this crew, stam­ina was high. Razzle Roc from SMAC 19 also showed no signed of tired­ness as he had battled the night before at the Red Bull BC One Cypher as one of its invit­ees. Sev­er­al oth­ers had also entered vari­ous battles hungry for the win, but there could only be one win­ner and Itali­ans took it mak­ing Ita­ly proud. We in the UK were also very proud to see a UK crew in the finals.

Massive con­grat­u­la­tions to ‘The Itali­ans’ for bat­tling their way through to win the World Crew title, it’s nev­er an easy win. Speak­ing with Gab­ri­ele Omed from the Itali­ans crew after their vic­tory I got their thoughts, “Win­ning the UK B-Boy Cham­pi­on­ships means a very import­ant mile­stone for us. We all had the same goal in mind, we knew that the chances of mak­ing it were con­crete and giv­ing the max­im­um we did it. Surely the fact of firmly believ­ing in ourselves and in all the mem­bers of the gang has made all this pos­sible. Let’s take this vic­tory as a start­ing point. We have made it clear that Ita­ly is there and rock hard. See you at the next battle!”. Keep an eye out for this crew, I’m sure we’ll be see­ing a lot more of them.

After the event I spoke to John G from G-shock, the col­lab­or­a­tion on the event seemed to have nat­ur­ally developed into the per­fect col­lab­or­a­tion, ‘we star­ted by host­ing cyphers at the Lon­don store’. This was a nice little spot I had exper­i­enced at the launch party. How did he think it went? “I think it went really well I’m pleased”. There was an ink­ling of more to come. Hooch was equally happy, with the biggest smile on his face he expressed how proud he was of the UK. Then going onto already think­ing about next year’s form­at he hin­ted, “we might take it back to two days again next year”. I know I can’t wait.

It was encour­aging to see so much prom­ise from the future gen­er­a­tions of B-Boys and B-Girls, espe­cially from the UK. It was also a great indic­a­tion for the future to see so many crews sign up, and indi­vidu­al B-Girls all whom showed great skills. There was immense pride see­ing the UK take both the B-Girl and B-Boy solo titles and make it to the crew finals on our home ground. I was in abso­lute awe of the inter­na­tion­al com­munity spir­it in gen­er­al and that it was always love after the battles. There was mutu­al respect for one another and a vibe of want­ing to help push each oth­er closer to the lim­it. The event left me feel­ing inspired with a great admir­a­tion of the con­tinu­ous determ­in­a­tion and cre­ativ­ity that every single dan­cer showed that night. It takes a lot to make it through the UK B-Boy Cham­pi­on­ships and if you didn’t make it this year, just remem­ber one thing…

Nev­er Give Up.

Pho­tos cour­tesy of Nic­ola Wen, Cyan­ide and UK B-Boy Cham­pi­on­ships.

www.ukbboychampionsips.com

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Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide

Faizah works in clin­ic­al research by pro­fes­sion and has been an avid Hip Hop lov­er since the early 90’s, hav­ing cre­ated her own Hip Hop event, ‘Break­in’ Bound­ar­ies’ in the early 2000’s which was pre­dom­in­antly based around the con­cept of bboy battles, she has worked with sev­er­al inter­na­tion­al events pro­moters and dan­cers to inspire oth­ers through this art­form.

About Faizah Cyanide

Faizah Cyanide
Faizah works in clinical research by profession and has been an avid Hip Hop lover since the early 90's, having created her own Hip Hop event, 'Breakin' Boundaries' in the early 2000's which was predominantly based around the concept of bboy battles, she has worked with several international events promoters and dancers to inspire others through this artform.