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The cocky battle attitude

A dude showing a middlefinger

Let’s talk about attitude, more specific the attitude people bring to competitions. For the sake of my post I will refer to battle attitude as the character and manners that we display in the battle when interacting with our opponent.

Everyone has his own battle attitude, that is defined by who he or she is as a human. It’s built from experiences and how we approach the dance. So far so great. But there is one thing that really bothers me: the cocky battle attitude. It’s still the prevalent way most people go into battles. And it does not make any sense, that it is this way.

Being cocky and aggro towards your opponent is fine when you have beef. That’s as far as I know the reason where this attitude comes from. But we don’t have beef with most people we battle, do we?

A lot of people think, or are maybe thaught, that this attitude is a part of the game and they take it and put it into their dance without thinking about it. I want to challenge this fact and tell you that there are actually more reasons to avoid that attitude, than to use it.

But hey, let’s take it the other way around. There is one very specific case where it makes sense to act cocky and maybe even to be an asshole towards your opponent. This is when you and your opponent are on the same level and you have a chance to mess with his head so that he cannot perform at his best.

Now some points against it:

  • When you are better than your opponent and you can simply outdance him, being unnecessary cocky only leaves a bitter taste behind after the battle and makes you dislikeable in the minds of the crowd and judges.
  • When your opponent outclasses you and you act arrogant, it simply makes you look stupid.
  • If you are young on the scene or in a foreign place and are cocky to some cats that you don’t know, it might happen to you that you give someone a dick who is a local pioneer. And despite these guys probably not having an issue with it, everyone else who knows, will just be like: “WTF”.

I am sure everyone can see the pattern above. If it is not part of the strategy that makes you win the battle, it works against you, every time. And while judges try to be objective and not consider things like this most of the time, the subconsciousness still factors sympathy in.

My suggestion: be confident with your skills and beat them with a smile.

What’s your take on this? Did I miss something crucial? Pop me a comment if you think so.

The 8-ball concept

sketch of a figure 8 pattern on the floor

The 8-ball is a concept to create new patterns of steps based on figure eight. I heard about this idea the first time from b-boy Alieness who taught an 8-ball six step at Circle Prince Croatia. I can not remember the exact year, to be honest.

While there are multiple different 8-ball steps (like the aforementioned 8-ball six step), the concept follows only one simple rule:

You take a series of steps/moves and combine them in a way that they flow in both directions without interruption.

In the original idea, the creators tried to emulate the figure eight as a path on the floor. Today most people consider a step to be an 8-ball when you follow the rule above.

And because it is easier to understand when you see it, I embed a video from Poe One, from Style Elements crew, below. He demonstrates multiple steps that were created with the 8-ball idea in mind.

Poe One teaching 8-ball footwork

This concept is a perfect match if you are looking for a way to drill your footwork both ways.

Fact-checking for the Win

Google search mask with the text: "is it true?"
Fact-check 101 - step 1: google it

In my early days of blogging I was known for sarcastic rants about every topic I disliked. I stopped this because I did not do any good. Today I have a relapse because I need to get something out.

There is one thing that gets more and more uncommon in our society which leads to more and more stupid things being said and later to even more stupid actions happening. This rare thing is called fact-checking.

It means that you don’t run off to tell everybody everything you heard without checking if it is true. I am guilty of this as well sometimes, but at least I try. When the BC One Cypher UK went down, I heard that B-Boy Sunni lost in the first round and I told it to other people. Later I heard that he won the first round but pulled out of the competition due to being sick. So the guy who lost against him could continue and win the whole competition. This second version of the story is the truth. Approximately a dozen people heard that he lost in the first round and this info was out. But it was wrong. Luckily, in that case, no real damage was done. But I was responsible for that false information being around.

Dance teachers, battle dancers, promoters, everyone who might be a role model in our scene: there are people who look up to us and treat everything we say as the truth. It is our responsibility to check that the stuff we spread is true.

Everyone has a right to his own opinion, but nobody shoud abuse this to spread lies or fake news. So when we have something we want to rant about: breath in and check

  • if you have the news from somebody who was acutally involved
  • if there is maybe the same info from different independent sources (me and my cat saying the same thing are not different sources as my cat gets the info from me)
  • if you are not entrapped to believe something because it plays well into a story that you want to believe
  • if you want to get this out because it fits well into your agenda

More often than not a shitstorm on social media happens because someone says something wrong and then the mob jumps onto it without checking or reflecting. If it’s wrong on purpose – means a lie – or just because this someone doesn’t know, does not make a big difference in the end. Don’t tell/post stuff that’s not true. If you don’t know, don’t post it. Don’t jump on a hate-train and demand to stone someone without checking if the claim is valid.

Shit like this happens enough in politics and the economy. Hip-Hop can do better than that. We can do better.

Where to dance in Vienna?

Usually when a dancer travels to a new city you already have a contact from some dancers there who shows you around and introduces you to the best places. As I took a break from dancing in the last two years due to becoming a daddy, I am trying to catch up with what happened in the Austrian scene and which places are a must-know. I still can’t travel all the places myself and so I reached out to the community in person and on social media to find out where to go.

This list is for sure not complete but if you have spots or events to add, shoot me a message per email, in the comments or via any social media channel and I will add whatever you got. Thank you everyone for the support. Let’s check out Vienna and let me know which city we shall cover next.

Practise Spots

The first question that comes up most of the time: “where can we practise”? Here is a shortlist of places you can check out.

  • The skatepark at the subway station “Längenfeldgasse” is a spot that b-boys and b-girls from Vienna use for practice
  • Same goes for the halfpipe on the Donauinsel (thx for these two tips to Rudi Natterer)
  • There is an Open Floor for all styles, that is happening twice a month, most of the time with the support of a DJ. Dates are available in the Facebook Group. (thx for this one to Tina Rauter)
  • Tuesdays there is a breaking Open Floor at Fünferhaus. 18:00 to 20:00. (thx for sharing to Jan Janko)
  • Also on Tuesdays, there is another Open Floor at WUK. 21:00. (thx Maira West and Kai Vel)

Parties

Good parties are hard to find. For now, we have two of them to check out:

  • A party called Jack is a new monthly club night. Finest house vibes will make you move in no time. (highly recommended by Tina Rauter and Maira West)
  • Funk Food brings the music to the masses, so you can seriously get down. I quote from their own page: The crowd is a beautiful representation of New York City soul and Vienna home-grown urban style. (shared by Mark Rodriguez, thx man)
  • Eat Slay Love is Vienna’s premier Voguing Event hosted by Plenvm Ninja. Infos about it and more stuff on the thriving Vienna Voguing scene including classes, workshops and more parties is available on the facebook page of Voguing Vienna.
  • Rockstep is a monthly Swing and Lindy Hop Party serving the music and dance culture from the late 20s to early 50s. Check the events section of Aera Wien for the next dates. (thx for the recommendation to Arne Haubner)
  • New Style Hustle – Vienna brings you sessions where you can enjoy the free exchange of two beautiful souls unified in dance.

Studios, Classes and Workshops

Sadly I don’t know all of these studios by myself so I have to provide a simple list without comments. As soon as I find the time to check them out, I will add more infos.

And more to come

I hope this list will be alive and grow whenever I have the time to visit Vienna and when residents share their dance spots. I also want to add events and spot that are indirectly related like record stores and hip hop labels that have stores, but this is a work in progress. Whenever you have something to add, let me know in the comments, via social media or per email.

Thx to everyone for the support.
Peace

The Matrix Metaphor

Matrix code with the text "what has been seen, can not be unseen"

The movie “Matrix” from 1999 is referenced daily to describe moments where people are aware of or unaware of different situations. We use the Matrix Metaphor to state that some newly gained knowledge changes the way we think or radically perceive our surroundings.

Typical moments of insights in a dance career are:

  1. The connection to the music is more profound than the regular drumbeat.
  2. There is something like the quality of movement.
  3. It’s seriously interesting if people come up with their own creative moves.
  4. That music is telling a story.
  5. Some dancers tell stories with their dance.
  6. You can dance to multiple instruments at the same time.
  7. I must learn and master everything.
  8. (years later) I don’t.

Of course, everyone has his personal insights that transform his way of thinking.

In the dance field (and I guess in all arts), I feel the tendency that we want to consume the work of people that explore the same topics as we do. Another side of the matrix is that things, once understood, can’t be unseen.

You know… I know this steak doesn’t exist. I know when I put it in my mouth; the Matrix is telling my brain that it is juicy, and delicious. After nine years… you know what I realize? Ignorance is bliss.

―Cypher justifying his decision to betray his friends and re-enter the Matrix.

This means that we might perceive the dance of others who did not experience the same insights as we did as immature and unformed. And the more we learn about dancing, the more we take for granted and postulate it has to be a certain way. We neglect that others are on a different point in their development or maybe even on a different path.

This is one of the reasons why a lot of experienced dancers state that they are bored with events. The longer you are in the scene, the more you have seen and the further you move away from the average level of knowledge.

What we sometimes don’t think about is that the dancer we see might explore an aspect of the dance that is beyond our comprehension. So, let’s not be too quick to judge.

This article is a translation (and slight rework) of an old text that was originally in German. Comments might reflect that.

Supporting the community

A local clothing pop-up store at an event
The clothing Market at Circle Industry 2019 | foto: Christian Poschner

Hip Hop is a culture that lives and thrives through the activities of its members. So far so cool. When we talk about supporting the scene or culture most people think about big things like throwing a jam, founding a crew, organising parties, teaching classes and so on. Not exactly things that everyone is going to do, because of to little time, knowledge, money or other reasons.

What I want to talk about today are three easy ways that everyone can utilise to support and keep the momentum for everyone going. Things that most people don’t think about when talking about community backing.

Be at the events, take a class or visit a show

While a lot of people think about organising jams or teaching as a way of support, there is another side to it as well. Being at the events or in the class is also a kind of support? How so, you ask? Given that you pay for your entry or for being in the class you support the promoters or the teacher and therefore enable them to invest their time in doing what they do. This helps the scene grow. Same goes if someone has a gig.

On the other hand: If you could afford to buy a ticket but try to get on the guest list every time, you actually decide not to fully back the guys that are doing their thing.

Spread the Word

Often overlooked but it goes a long way. Tell people about what is happening. Do it in person if you meet someone who might be interested. Hit that like and share buttons on social media. It costs you nothing but a click but potentially shows the event to dozens of interested people, sometimes hundreds or even thousands.

If only one of the newly reached guys comes, it was worth it.

Buy from your community

This is not only true for food. Hip Hop has many small clothing labels, independent DJs, music producers and more creative peeps that create stuff. Buying their clothes, albums or whatever they are creating instead of the shirt at H&M or listening to their music only via Youtube, once again enables them to keep going.

Here you have it, three easy ways to support your community that do not require extraordinary amounts of time, skills or dedication.

If you can think about more of them, let me know in the comments.

Of Freestyle and Choreography

Foto von Expanding Energy
Expanding Energy / Davis Freeman - Random Scream / Sommerszene 2011

Sometimes people argue about stupid shit. A prime example for this is the discussion of freestyle vs choreography in hip hop dance. What this discussion misses is that freestyle and choreography are the same things but under different conditions. Both are about the creation of our dance, one of them is spontaneous and the other in a slow and very reflected process.

Before we jump into the topic itself: for the sake of this article I refer to freestyle as “improvisation within the boundaries of a dance-style” and not “do whatever you want”.

Here are my two cents why this discussion does not go anywhere and why you should be able to freestyle and create choreography. To make my point more clear, I will use my favourite metaphor where I compare dance to a language.

The moves we have in any given style are comparable to words in a language and therefore form our vocabulary. Our grammar is the flow of the style and how we connect our moves to form our dance being the text that has a meaning that is created by the combination of words. And finally in hip hop and it’s related styles, music is the topic we talk about.

The difference between dancing freestyle or a set choreography is like the difference of talking free versus reciting a poem. Both are fine at the correct time. You can make a serious impact by having the right poem at hand for the right occasion, but bringing a poem about the beauty of x-mas in a discussion about the ecologic crisis is just stupid.

At the same time, you miss out on a big part of the beauty of choreography if you don’t understand how the moves connect. This is the same as learning a poem in a foreign language when you can tell it to people but don’t know what it means.

And you can’t say you are a master of a language/dance if you can’t create a speech/choreography to a given topic.

This means: there is no “which is better/superior/whatever”. You need to understand both to master your craft. There is nothing wrong in specialising in one or the other if you want. But if you choose to do so, don’t divide what’s one in an artificial discussion and openly admit that you don’t care enough to put in the work to learn both.

Circle Industry 2019 is coming

It’s that time of the year again. Circle Industry is going down next weekend and the b-boy and b-girls are gathering in our small city to find out who can beat the invitational guest in 2 vs 2 or the Checkmate battle.

We have an amazing lineup with the Red Bull BC One All Stars, the Squadron, Mafia 13 and United Lifestyle Kings for Checkmate.

Our judges Wicket, Xak and Kuzya teach classes on Saturday and Sunday. You can register for that classes here.

Grab your tickets for the 15th and 16th of March here.

Austrian Hip Hop Fashion Brands

Streetwear and the Hip Hop Dance World gravitate towards each other. Very often when dancers think about creating a business, street fashion is on top of the list. While I am not the right person to say what it is, that connects those two worlds, I think that these creative young labels need more spotlight. I can not do this on my own, as my readership is not that big, but I can do my part by presenting some of the labels that emerged from our dance community or found their way into it.

I have put a little bit of research into this topic because it is nowhere close my core expertise. My intent writing this article was to present an overview of the existing labels and show the differences between them. I have sent some private messages and emails to the label creators asking for background info about their work. The answers I received made me rethink the approach for this post. There is a distinct pattern revealing itself – about what all these labels have in common.

The common ground

fair & sustainable
organic, local, unique

These values define the visions of the label creators. Fair & sustainable or synonyms where essential in all of the answers I received or the descriptions on the official websites.

Being unique is a thing that every serious fashion label strives for. Our austrian fashion brands are no exception.

The great thing about this common ground between all the brands is that it shows a deep understanding of the needs of our society. It shows that the fashion entrepreneurs that are close to the hip-hop scene value social progress more than profits. For my understanding, this is a noble trait that you seldom find in the business world.

Let’s jump into the differences, that matter far less, than the common things.

Esteem

Esteem Shirts

The Salzburg-based label Esteem was built upon the idea to “create some shirts for ourselves and friends”. The following step to the own streetwear brand was not that far. The name stands for value, respect and acceptance.

The slogan of esteem iscreate your own system.

Esteem produces all kinds of urban clothing and seeks out to fit the dancer’s needs wherever possible.

Check out the official Esteem Website.

Unleash.ed

Cap from Unleash.ed in Berlin

Hailing from Graz Unleash.ed was found with the primary idea to support local subcultural movements like freerunning, tricking and the artforms from the hip-hop culture. The secondary idea was to create clothing that fits. Not in a literal matter but a symbolic one. The wearer should be able to identify with the clothes.

Unleash.ed goes by the slogan: by the community, for the community.

The primary products of unleashed are shirts and pullovers adorned with inspiring and creative sayings.

Visit the unleash.ed Facebook Page.

From the Soul

From the Soul Vintage Market

From the Soul is based in Innsbruck and takes the idea of sustainability one step further, by using clothes that are already there. The from the soul vintage market is a well-curated selection of second-hand clothing that is chosen with the urban dancer in mind. The majority of the pieces are sports clothing from the 80s and 90s as well as parts that fit the overall style of the era.

Their slogan: From The Soul, for the soul.

From the Soul has self-produced shirts and caps too and is working on finding suppliers they want to work with for the production of more stuff.

Check out the From the Soul Facebook Page.

Rachlé Art

Custom Shit from Rachlé Art

Rachlé Art resides in Klagenfurt and is all about customs. They design most of their work per hand, directly onto the clothes. The items that are created this way are truly unique. The focus is on extraordinary and colourful designs that resemble the spirit of the customs from the origins of the hip-hop culture.

Take a look at their pieces on the Rachlé Art Facebook Page.

URBAN ARTISTS WEAR

Bags by Urban Artists Wear

not something for everyone – but for someone

Urban Artists Wear is a label that is focused on key-pieces for the hip-hop dancer. They see “the own style” not only as a way to express through the art of the four traditional elements but also an aesthetic presentation of one’s individuality through fashion. The search for possibilities to be individual in the pabulum of the big sports labels was a significant reason to found the brand.

All the items are self-designed and use patterns that differ from the norm while using established ideas from within the scene, like the oversized look. Jackets, shirts, pants, bags and more are hand-crafted as single items or in a low number of pieces.

Follow Urban Artists Wear on Instagram.

Mützenmafia

Headband from Muetzenmafia

Mützenmafia (german for capmafia) is specialised on hand-crafting stylish caps, beanies and headbands. The company from Graz started creating headwear after desperately looking for it in a cold winter. As there were no satisfying options, the task was to develop it themselves.

Mützenmafia provides quality items to keep your head warm and stylish – no matter if it is cold weather or bad hair day.

Take a look at the Mützenmafia Online Shop.

Vresh

Hoodie from Vresh

Vresh is not directly tied to the urban dance scene, but their clothes found their way into our realm nonetheless. Their clothes are meant to support people and projects from music, sport and the creative sector without going into a niche. They support what they like.

Their designs fit a wide range of demands, and it is easy to find something you like.

Follow us to the official website of Vresh.

My conclusion

Which of these brands will have the right items for you is a matter of personal taste. That is not a thing we have to discuss. Important is: no matter who you buy from, in all the cases above you support a company that upholds essential values instead of putting money in a conscienceless economy that only strives for profit.

There are some more brands that I did not get enough info from. Therefore, there might be a second chapter of this one in the future.