My time as a YVC volunteer has brought me pretty much everywhere: summer camps, green team events, Alberta Ballet, and now, a break-dance battle?
That’s right, last Saturday, I was lucky enough to volunteer at Culture Shock 2017, a youth driven art event celebrating culture and community, held at the Genesis Center.
If you know me at all, you would know that hip hop isn’t exactly my scene. I am probably the last person you would expect to be at a Bboy/girl battle. Being an introvert who gets headaches from loud music and cheering, my normal Saturday night would have honestly been spent in my room, listening to a French Disney playlist (like this one!), while procrastinating on homework.
Yet, Saturday evening, there I was, straying from my standard weekend night, and joining in all the “cool” kids at Culture Shock!
Of course, I know little to nothing about hip hop, or breakdancing, or anything to do with urban culture (the extent of my knowledge stems from the hip-hop class my elementary school offered, when they taught all the 1st graders to bounce our knees, and vaguely swing our arms, and maybe butcher a very slow “coffee grinder”?), but luckily, it didn’t matter, because the energy in the room was absolutely infectious. And it wasn’t long before I was cheering, and whooping along with everyone else.
Despite being clueless about anything technical going on, everything looked, as I would come to say in the 20 million snapchats being constantly updated to my story, “hella fly”. As far as I could tell, limbs were flying, and hats were flipping off, and everything looked incredible. I had so much respect for all the time, and effort everyone clearly put into mastering this art.
The event went above and beyond my expectations. It was absolutely amazing spending a night getting to watch all these amazing youth artists in their element (including some very adorable kids!), and it left me incredibly wistful that I, unfortunately, don’t have a single rhythmic bone in me.
The evening started with a showcase, where all teams had the chance to show off their talents. Then, while the judges picked the top 16 teams, they held a cypher, basically a free for all circle where anyone could dance, or freestyle on the mic (as I’m sure all the Hip Teens™ would say, some sick beats were dropped). The battle began. A 16 team bracket was drawn up (courtesy of yours truly!), and things started to get serious.
If I wasn’t impressed during the showcase, my jaw was dropped now. Each team was so talented, and it was captivating seeing how everyone was so unique, and quick on their feet. Competition was fierce. We saw amazing individuals, and unbelievable teams, and there were quite a few draws, it was so hard for the judges to decide!
After some tough rounds, and a little interlude of featured dancers, it was time for finals. It all came down to the Mighty Wookie Arms versus the Floor Convicts.
Following an intense battle, we had a winner. The Floor Convicts left it all on the floor, and traded it for two incredibly cool medals (!!), bringing us to the end of an amazing night.
I was amazed by how different it was from what I was expecting. Though I might not know break-dancing, I know music, and I absolutely adored that the DJs didn’t just use the typical rap music I thought I would be listening to, instead bringing in funk, jazz, and latin elements. The music had everyone grooving, especially the DJs, who, dare I say were the most hype of all.
Rejecting the common stereotype of rude teenage Bboys/girls, there was no trash talking and no shade. The environment was phenomenal, with nothing but pure energy and support. I found it impossible to not get hyped up with everyone else, and you could almost feel the buzz in the air.
All in all, Culture Shock was an amazing experience, and is definitely up on my list of favorite volunteer projects! But the best part? Even if you missed the event, or you just want to see everything again, all the battles were video taped, and you can find them here. Better yet, there’s a break-dancing competition in Medicine Hat coming up on October 21 from 3:00 to 7:00 PM. You can find more information about that here. Hope to see y’all out there!
(featured image courtesy of Antyx Community Arts)