By: Flava Vitz
I recently resided in Valencia, Spain for four months, interning as a translator for an e-journal, taking language courses, living with a family and training with new friends. You could call my choices atypical, because while anticipating my time there, I absolutely planned on continuing most of my behavior, which in this case was Breaking (“breakdancing” for some). Bonus Cut emphasizes Hip Hop as a worldview and worldwide phenomenon, and this reflection delves into that, so here are a few guidelines. I emphasize the following disclaimers:
1. The article’s topic is Breaking but it can relate to the other pillars of Hip Hop.
2. I have been Breaking for three years so what I write reflects that.
3. My experience abroad reflects a limited time experienced there.
4. I credit the crews 99stylez, 61syx Teknique, Weaponz of Rhythm (WOR), Supremos, Alter Ego and Mighty Soul as instrumental in my learning. The first three are US crews and the latter are from Spain. I cite Coda (WOR) and K2Roc (61syx and WOR) here, though in no way do I represent their individual or crew views and concepts. I flip ideas in my own Style.
Hip Hop Kulture is composed of five primary pillars: Breaking, MCing, DJing, Graffiti Art and Knowledge. Some call the dance Breaking as opposed to Bboying/Bgirling because the latter is like saying “fireman-ing/firewoman-ing” instead of firefighting, right? Bboy and Bgirl usually stand for Break Boy and Break Girl. In addition, some do not hyphenate Hip Hop and they capitalize both words. Hip is the relevant, the fun and the conscious, that which makes you Hop, rise, speak, act, dance, affect change. They are separate but together, two but one, and the hyphen suggests it is only one thing, one dimensional, when the basis of Hip Hop is Overstanding, the critical application of Knowledge: know and apply, Hip and Hop (Overstanding-Coda). Following suit, “the point of foundation is to lose it,” or in other words, the basis of Breaking is not static, it’s meant to be played with, applied (foundation-K2Roc). It’s multidimensional, dynamic.
In Spain’s context, Hip Hop thrives in an economic crisis caused largely by debt, corruption, predatory loans, the real estate bubble and bankruptcies, complicated by 27% unemployment overall and 50% for workers 27 years old and under. Old gens have dealt with popularizing and teaching the Kulture there, whereas new gens struggle to gain acceptance from the former in an era of “Youtube Breaking” and acceptance from others under pressure from society to find “secure” work (Youtube Breaking refers to how the Internet has changed the dance). Resistance is budding in Spain, where political parties are polarizing and rich cultural traditions in conjunction with stories of a former dictatorship motivate citizens to mobilize. Hip Hop provides the youth voice, support, discipline, creativity, critical thinking, sociability, confidence, identity and community.
Valencian people are expressive, open and charming. Their arts boast complex craft and trade work, clean improvisation, clever satire and critique, and these qualities reflect in their Breaking, where their Style tends toward sharpness, confident freestyle and disciplined training regiments. As I frequented sessions in Spain, these characteristics shaped my Breaking into something more polished, comfortable and consistent.
This exhibited that Style derives from context and place. You go to Chicago, IL, and you see competitive, quick-paced rawness; you go to East Lansing, MI, and you see fresh, friendly collaboration. People’s ways of Knowing derive from various factors, and in these cases it can be seen that place shapes how Bboys and Bgirls apply their Knowledge in Breaking.
Comfort zones did not exist when I was Breaking abroad. I witnessed how complete strangers reacted to me, to my dance and to my country, and I saw how I viewed myself without judgment. New standards freed me from training for others, so I began training for myself, and it was then that I realized why it is exactly that I Break – and I applied that.
If you’re in Hip Hop, whether you Break, Rap, Scratch, Write or Know, please travel and connect. Collaboration with other Hip Hop Headz, other cities, other regions and other countries provides unique opportunities for inspiration, reflection and creation. Train often and in a variety of ways. Remember what you think is Hip and why you Hop for it. Tell your story. Please take from this that Hip Hop is a way of Knowing centered around application. SO PRACTICE!