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Break It Off

A new local DVD and dance contest revive breakin' in the Lou

A tipster in New York tells me that in Manhattan this week, you can still see b-boys breakdancing on street corners, the classic square of cardboard protecting them from the concrete and bum dung below. As they're the birthplace of popping and locking, it's good that the five boroughs are keeping dancing alive. And it would be nice to see St. Louis' dancers working some cardboard on the Loop. But, until that day comes, you can thank the Commonspace (www.thecommonspace.org) for keeping breaking alive in the Lou.

Settle the Score 2004, a new DVD produced by Digitronical (www.digitronical.com) and the Commonspace, is a fine document of the state of dancing. It's a no-frills portrayal of a day of dance battles. No fancy camera tricks, no quick editing or flash. That's a good thing: Watching the contests in long-take medium shots lets you absorb the moves, and there are hundreds of moves to take in. When you're watching a guy put his ankle behind his neck and spin on the floor, you don't need extra pizzazz.

The contest is divided into two parts: a Funkstyle Battle (breakdancing) and a B-Boy (popping) contest. Be prepared to take notes -- this gets a little confusing. Breakdancing is the type of dancing that mixes joint control with structured, almost miming gestures. Popping combines back-and-forth footwork like capoeira, Brazil's dancing martial art, with the handstands, spins and gymnastics that most people think of as breakdancing. After all, that's what Shabba-Doo and Boogaloo Shrimp did in Breakin' 2: Electric Boogaloo. It also has a bit of that squatting Russian dance. It's a garbage bag of difficult styles (this could help explain why World Class Gymnastics is another sponsor).

Perhaps it's because I'm not an expert, but I prefer watching the popping. It's less subtle, more in your face, and the dancers are brash. One early battle on the DVD almost devolves into fisticuffs, and one team withdraws because of arguments. The breakdancers hug each other after each match, which is better sportsmanship but less fun. Still, the whole thing's great to watch, and the tunes laid down by DJ Trackstar (nominated for an RFTMusic Award... more on that in a bit), Espi and Mark Lewis are topnotch.

But if you want to see this stuff in the flesh, head to the Freidens Church at 1904 Newhouse for Durte Tacticx, a four-on-four b-boy battle featuring dancers from around the nation. The winners will take home $800, so you ought to be able to see some furious dancing. Trackstar will be making an appearance, and the judges will feature local dance king Arkimedez. The whole thing starts at 3 p.m., so grab your Pumas and your attitude and get on down there. If you can't make it, Digitronical sponsors a weekly dance session every Sunday at the Just Dancing studios at 236 Old Meramec Station Road.


Votes are pouring in for the Riverfront Times Music Awards. Where's yours? If paper ballots and stamps are too much work, you can always vote online at www.riverfronttimes.com/musicawards/2005/musicpoll/. Of course, that means there's no paper trail, and as lefties would tell you these days, that can lead to shenanigans. But I promise you, we here at the RFT are far less diabolical than Karl Rove...plus, we really just want the best bands to win.

Also, be sure to mark your calendar: On June 5, the Loop will be transformed into a one-stop shop for live music when we bring you our Local Music Showcase. Featuring more than 40 of the bands (and MCs and DJs) nominated for the music awards, the showcase is an all-day, all-night party with so much variety, you'll puke. Don't want to puke? Tough. You gotta suffer for art. And with everything from metal to crunk to jam bands to house beats, your head will be spinning like you spent an hour on the Tilt-A-Whirl. But it'll be happy vomit, trust me.


At last weekend's Rock n' Roll Prom at the Way Out Club, I was introduced to a new rock drinking game by Joe Meyer of the Trip Daddys. I was also introduced to the sight of Jason Wallace Triefenbach of the Electric performing in bikini briefs, another dude streaking and the nacho cheese from 7-Eleven, but the less said about those things, the better. So let's talk musical drinking games.

Drinking games are usually the territory of college students; I used to be quite the master of Beer Pong, Asshole and Circle of Death. But some drinking contests are tests of intellect as well as liver power. Like Joe's game. I'll explain the rules next week, but before I do: Do you know a good rock drinking game or contest? If so, send it to me at jordan.harper@riverfronttimes.com. It could net you a beer or two from yours truly.

 
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