As I approached St. Stephens Church on 16th and Newton Street N.W I knew I was in the right place, as a group of teenaged boys graffiti the screen of a T.V. found in a nearby trash heap. Stepping inside the church that doubles as a center of operations for all things positive and community oriented, the growing group of breakers warmed up, practiced and held cipher for well over an hour before the show began.
As the competition time approached and the cipher of dancers had split apart into two distinct groups of popping, locking, spins, and handstands so quick my camera could not catch them all there seemed to be a sense of community even among the competing crews of dancers.
As the crowd of spectators spilled in, and space became more and more of a premium, people stood on tables and chairs in corner, and others gathered on a landing one floor above where the festivities were to take place in hopes of getting a better view.
The pop and lock competition where 8 competitors went head to head in one-on-one battles for three 30 second rounds. After the pop and lock competition it was time for the b-girls to represent, because only two b-girls signed up to compete they went head to head for five 30 second rounds, both performed so well that the judges had yet to come to a decision on the winner when the main event began.
The ultimate battle royal in the breakin’ community is unequivocally the best crew competition, with over 40 crews signing up, it was time to get things underway for the event that spectators have been waiting for since last years “Freshest of All Time”.
Less than halfway through the battle, the fire alarm sounded, in true b-boy fashion the dancing continued until one of the organizers made the crowd disperse and leave the building. The crowd began to wane after about 20 minutes, but the die hard fans remained while b-boys took the extra time to perfect their moves on the grassy knoll in the parking lot. Frustrated organizers worried about how long it would take to resume the show.
Meanwhile staff members passed out popsicles and ice cream treats to the waiting crowd, which made the inconvenience look more like a block party or barbeque than a change in plans. The dancers kept dancing, music blared from a car parked close by and lovers of breakin’ crowded around each other to watch, listen, and participate in all this encompasses this art form. At that moment I slipped away, because that was what I wanted to do, I remembered about this event and the entire Hip Hop Theatre Festival, the sense of community, culture and creating no matter where we are.
By Porscha “Lyrik” Coleman