Tab Tries: Breakdancing
OSCAR WILLIAMS-GRUT tests his street cred when he tries to have a dance-off with group Sin Cru.
Coming from South London (Streatham, to be precise) I’ve always liked to think I had a certain amount of ‘street cred’. So when someone mentioned that there was going to be a ‘street dance’ class as part of the Queens’ Arts Festival, I couldn’t help but feel it was time to step up (oh, come on, that was good).
Aside from the fact that I clearly have absolutely none of the aforementioned ‘street cred’, I quickly learned that ‘street cred’ has very little to do with break dancing, or ‘b-Boying’, as the pros call it.
My overriding memory of the lesson is how physically demanding it was. It was possibly the most active hour I’ve spent all term, and my body won’t let me forget it. I’m still walking like a baby deer.
The class was lead by TrubL Roc, a member of the confusingly named ‘Sin Cru’. Despite sounding like an anti-Christian street gang, their name actually stood for ‘Safety in Numbers’ and they were all about giving kids the chance to express themselves through dance, not mugging people and starting postcode wars.
We started with some relatively simple moves: step forward with your right foot, then back to where you started, then step backwards with your right foot. Then the same exercise leading with the left. So far, so good.
Soon, however, things were heating up: touch the floor with your left hand; kick out your right foot; kick both feet out in front of you while you touch the floor and stick your other arm up in the air…
The moves themselves weren’t that hard, but the intensity was. There was no break for a demonstration of new moves; the instructor just dropped them in. We had to keep an eagle eye on her before hurrying to figure out what exactly she’d just done.
Then finally, a break for stretching. We all breathed a collective sigh of relief. But this wasn’t just ordinary stretching. Sure, we began putting one foot over the other knee, which took me back to assembly at school. But before we knew it, we were going from this position, up onto one knee, then onto both feet and then back down again, all with NO HANDS. This wasn’t stretching; this was exercise.
Next came the really hard part: freezes. This is the iconic break-dancing move where people balance on their head and hands whilst holding poses with their legs. The instructor gave us a potted history of the ‘freeze’. All I took away from this portion was that they have names like the ‘baby’, the ‘chair’ and the ‘table’. I can see the ‘baby’ and the ‘table’- but, honestly: the ‘chair’ does not look like a chair.
It was going relatively okay until things got personal. Whilst the teacher was trying to convince me that ‘freezes’ were all about balance ‘not strength’ (which I still call Bullshit on) I mentioned that I have terrible balance, and therefore can’t cycle. Next thing I know, we are all reassembled as a group, and the teacher says this next move ‘should be easy… unless you can’t ride a bike’. I retorted with a lame, ‘hey, don’t get personal!’, but if we really were in Step Up, this would be the point where we have a dance-off.
We went over a few more moves, but soon it was time for us to come up with our own routines to bring out against any trouble makers who needed to be put down via the medium of interpretive dance.
I knew this was my chance to even the score with the TrubL Roc.
So, I did what any clear thinking person would do and completely disregarded everything I had learnt in the class. I put together a collection of my own personal best moves, which I usually reserve for special occasions.
I like to think the routine was a ground breaking display of future dance, but a friend who saw a video of it after said it was more like an ‘old school aerobics instructor’. To be fair, Mr Motivator has always been a personal hero.
By the end I was a broken man. My rower friend Henry came along to do the class with me, and even he was sweating and in pain. We both hobbled away, aching all over.
But, neither of us regretted it. While I remain sceptical about how many street fights I will be able to defer with my rendition of ‘the chair’, it was still a good workout and great fun.
As for my final routine, I’m thinking of holding my own classes to pioneer this new dance form. Watch this space.
You can find out more about Sin Cru, who are based at the Junction, here.