X-treme: The b-boyz are back in town

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Indy Lifestyle Online
"Hey you, the Rock Steady Crew; show us what you do, make a break make a move. Hey you, the Rock Steady Crew; B-boyz break to electric boogaloo..."

These lyrics (from breakdancers and occasional rappers Rock Steady Crew) do not make much sense, but to anyone who knows hip hop's history they conjure up a bygone era of pure excitement, when protagonists would "battle", without any hint of malice, and spend time cutting up fabric to make wider laces for their trainers. It was an era when the coolest pastime was cruising the streets with your "crew", carrying a length of rolled-up lino.

And now, breakdancing is back. It never really went away, but tomorrow's event, The PlayStation UK Breakdancing Championships - The Art of B-Boyin, at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, has set tongues wagging in the capital. "When I started to think about organising such an event I soon realised that it would get bigger and bigger," Hooch, the event's promoter explains. Last year's championships attracted 1,500; tomorrow's event looks set to top 2,000. The spectacle of breakdancing promises to be as compelling as ever and tracksuits are being dusted down all over Britain in preparation.

"Breakdancing has had to come to terms with not being in the public eye after the early Eighties," Hooch says. "It's been bubbling away underground since then and the real hip-hop culture has carried on. Many of the top

b-boyz will have been together from the early 1980s, but there are also many young crews that have taken up breakdancing after watching last year's event."

Breakdancing began in New York when locals danced to old funk tunes from artists such as James Brown and George Clinton. DJs would have two copies of the same record and, using two turntables, play the "break" back-to- back to extend the sequence for the length of a record.

"Dancers became known as break-boyz or break-girlz, or b-boyz or b-girlz," says Hooch. "The term `breakdancing' isn't correct, it should be `b-boyin' as the two words mean the same thing. The word `breakdancing' has become associated with the art so we've kept the name but added that it's `the art of b-boyin'."

In competition, crews (from across Europe) range from three to eight members. Each performs a self-choreographed set-piece for no more than eight minutes. They are judged on choreography, style and crowd reaction. Crews are eliminated until there are four left.

This is when the essence of

b-boyin' comes to the fore. The crews engage in two "battles"; one for third and fourth places, the other for the top two. Crews "face-off" against each other and battle each other move-for-move until the judges decide a winner.

This kind of direct challenge best captures the essence of breakdancing, as competitors lay down a move and challenge their adversary to better the move. As the battling continues, the degree of difficulty is increased, whipping the crowd into a frenzy.

While all of the old moves; "footwork", "up-rockin'", "turtles", "head spins" and "windmills" are still there, the sport has evolved to become more gymnastic, with plenty of fierce "power moves" to delight the crowds.

GrandMaster Melle Mel (White Lines) and Scorpio appear live, with DJ support from the Funkin' Pussy Sound Squad. Crazy Leggs (Rock Steady Crew) is the guest compere and on the judging panel.

Whether you are trying to recapture your youth or simply want to experience the thrill of the "fight", there is guaranteed to be no where more up- rockin' than the Empire tomorrow night.

Playstation UK Breakdance Championships 1997 are at the Shepherd's Bush Empire, Shepherd's Bush Green, W12 (0181-740 7474) tomorrow 5pm-11pm, pounds 12

THE LOW DOWN

WHERE TO DO IT

Anywhere that's flat, with enough space to

swing a cat.

HOW MUCH?

No cash needed. All this art form will cost

you is pride if you fail to land a move.

DO

- Invest in a good piece of lino.

- Break out the old-skool wares. Adidas tracksuits and Gazelles still rule

DO

- Choose any kind of tunes. New b-boyz

break to everything from jungle to the

Chemical Brothers

DO NOT

- Attempt spin moves on carpet. Severe burns, ouch!

- Attempt head spins without advice from someone who knows what they're doing

- Bring any famed hip hop attitude; this is all about expression and creativity

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