Power Moves

Dig a little through message boards on the Internet, and you're likely to find some interesting stuff. While doing some background research on break dancing, I stumbled upon a discussion about the difference between break dancing and hip-hop.

At www.bboy.org, Thread asked, "Break dancing vs. hip-hop, wads the different?" His (or her) innocent question yielded a few frustrated responses. PoeticSyndromn replied, "What type of question is that? ... Dude ... you could've come up with something better than that, seriously. ... That's like asking what's the difference between a slice of pizza and pizza." Shuujin continued on the pizza track, explaining with some wisdom, "Break dancing could be a slice of the pizza. Hip-hop is the whole pizza."

True to Shuujin's explanation, Wikipedia defines break dancing as a dynamic style of dance that is part of hip-hop culture. It emerged out of the hip-hop movement in the South Bronx in the late 1970s. But break dancing is really a term coined by the media in the 1980s: Dancers usually refer to themselves as b-boys (or b-girls) and the art as b-boying.

Local DJ and promoter Ian Sugarman explains more of the history. "It started out with DJs playing soul music. They would loop the drum break of the record, playing it over and over again. People would dance to that. ... It takes (aspects of) Brazilian and Puerto Rican dancing and has evolved into amazing acrobatic stuff."

Sugarman is promoting a break dancing competition (or b-boy/b-girl battle) held Saturday, Sept. 10, at the Historic YWCA, 300 E. University Blvd. Doors open at 7 p.m. The battle starts between 8:30 and 9 p.m. Admission is $10 or $20 with a camcorder. Call 240-4881 for more information. The winner of the battle will win $1,000 and a gift package.

The battle will be a 3-on-3 format, with two teams (or crews) of three dancers battling against each other. Dancers perform separate routines. For example, crew A and crew B will go up against each other. Person 1 from crew A will dance first, followed by person 1 from crew B. This will continue until all three people from each crew dance several times. There will be 16 crews in total, with eight coming from out of state. Local crews include Sour Patch and Les Avenge. Sugarman says the dancers range in age from 13 to their mid-20s.

One of the out-of-state crews is Knucklehead Zoo, from Las Vegas. Knucklehead recently won the top prize at the Battle of the Year competition, which is the largest in the world and features crews from various countries.

The battle will feature DJ Bonus and DJ Trenz and judges Poe One, Bob the Balance and House One. Poe One "has been around some years and is somewhat a legend," says Sugarman. "He judges battles around the world."

Poe One will conduct break dancing workshops before the evening battle from 1 to 3 p.m. at Skrappy's, 201 E. Broadway Blvd. The cost is $10, or $8 for children 13 or younger.

Sugarman and co-promoter Nate Camacho have named their battle "Paying Dues." "The crews invited have been coming up in the scene," says Sugarman. "They've been paying their dues and winning battles. We are showcasing the lesser known groups in the country and are also letting crews from Tucson and Phoenix get a chance to come up as well."

Sugarman has also paid his dues, starting off as a self-taught DJ at 12 years old. "I started break dancing in middle school. That led me to being a DJ. At 16, I started playing at parties. I met Deeko, and he got me into DJing for break dancers. I started buying music they dance to and then DJed for break dancing battles around town. Then I started promoting them." Now, at 19, Sugarman is also a DJ for the rap group For Joint Custody and has a weekly radio show through hiphopfundamentalz.com.

One reason Sugarman decided to promote battles is to inspire other youth. He hopes to work with local schools, enabling dance students to attend the battle at no cost. "I want to get people who don't have money to get in to help them, so they can see a lot and be inspired," he says. "When I was younger, I went to smaller church events and never got the opportunity to go to big ones with people of this caliber. ... I enjoy seeing people come to the event, knowing that I put together something that helps the community. I like being able to supply that to the youth in the community."