really hasn't had many moments to shine on a public stage here in
Utah, not at the fault of the performers, but more for the lack of
locations and events. Most of the time you'll see a group showing
their skills off at festivals, especially this year where Bboy
showcases have been rising in popularity as a highlight, most notably at Craft Lake City where a single group played opposite the musical acts and nearly stole the show. So it only came naturally that at some point, some major events would be started up.
The Bboy Federation is an organized set of competitions where Utah's fresh and finest can show off their swipes and footwork, all in hopes of bringing the crowd to a standstill cheer. A competition every month over six months brings in several crews to earn points in an attempt to make it to the final championship round this February. With the next one coming up this Saturday at the Utah Arts Alliance (2191 South 300 West), we took the opportunity to chat with two two minds behind the Federation about their breakdancing experience, starting up the organization, thoughts on local bboying and a few other topics. All with pics for you to check out of the last competition.
Jimmy “Pyro” Karren & Joshua “Text” Perkins
Gavin: Hey guys! First off, tel us a bit about yourselves.
Joshua: My name is Joshua Perkins and I’ve been dancing for almost 11 years. I’m 28 years old.
Jimmy: Name is Jimmy Karren. I'm 32 years old. I been breakin' for about 8 1/2 years.
Gavin: How did you first come across breakdancing and what inspired you to start doing it?
Jimmy: It was something. I always wanted to try but as a kid I was so busy with swimming that I never had time to get into it. Then when I got older I found myself gettin' into trouble and I needed a new hobby to keep me outta trouble, so I started breakin'.
Joshua: I first came across Bboying in high school. A friend of mine did it and I kinda just starting getting into it. We had a couple classes together and him and his brother would teach me stuff.
Gavin: What was it like for you learning the skills and techniques, and then putting it all together to show off to others?
Joshua: I practice 3-4 days a week about two hours a day. It’s a lot of work. It becomes your life. You find that your priorities are work, school, relationship and dancing. Each one you can’t give up.
Jimmy: At first its just all about having fun and learning the moves. you don't even think about how your gonna use them down the road or if you'll be able to do shows. You only care about what moves you can learn. It's definitely fun spinning around on the ground. It doesn't matter who's watching, it's like riding a roller-coaster, it's all for fun.
Gavin: How did you end up joining your respective crews, and what was it like starting to perform for crowds?
Jimmy: I met my crew at a practice spot. It was at a local hip-hop store called Uprok, which is a big sponsor for hip-hop events around the state. At first I wasn't worried about performing or battling. Then later down the road I got into battling and did that for awhile. Then I did a few shows here and there. Then back in 2005 me and three other guys got a job at Busch Gardens in Williamsburg, Virginia. We were there for about seven months.
Joshua: I’m one of the founding members of Angels of Death (AOD). The crew came about because all of us practiced together every day. We began entering battles together and the crew came out of that. That was about seven years ago.
Gavin: When and how did you both meet each other and eventually become friends?
Joshua: I met Pyro at Uprok Records. Uprok is a local practice spot and he would come down and practice with the rest of us. Pyro and I have been entering jams together ever since then.
Jimmy: Yeah, we met each other through Uprok at the practice spot. We been in a crew together for about eight years.
Gavin: How did the idea come about to start up the BBoy Federation?
Jimmy: I wanted to start somethin' new for the scene and mix it up. I wanted to do a series that was similar to basketball or football. Do a season and keep track of records and in the end, put everyone up against each other based on their records. This year we based it kind of on the World Cup tournament that soccer follows. And next year we'll mix up the style again. Somethin' different always keeps it interesting.
Joshua: The scene had grown kind of stale in the last few years. Dancers get to a point and don’t progress and there weren’t a lot of kids coming up to replace them. So we decided we wanted to create a way to bring new kids in and give them a chance to travel. Our crew has been fortunate enough to compete all over the country and we wanted more people to have that chance.
Gavin: What was the process like in getting all these different dancers and crews together for this kind of event? And how did you deal with egos or problems brought up by people along the way?
Joshua: Getting the crews together is always a challenge. But we think that the goal is worthwhile enough they’d want to do it. We stay upfront with what we expect from them as well. For example, if they don’t show up on time we skip them, they miss their battle and don’t get points. Other than that, as long as we can get them to pay the registration fee they’re pretty excited to do it.
Jimmy: The process was actually easy because we already had big connections through the Utah scene and knew all the crews. We had been throwing competitions for years already, they were small monthly battles. Plus we have been running a successful battle called the X Series. It's exhibition battles that we setup between dancers in the scene. There's always gonna be ego's in everything that you do. Whether it be work, sports or any other activities there's always gonna be ego's involved. And there's no better place to let em loose than in a breakin' competition.
Gavin: For those unfamiliar with the format, how do each of the competitions go?
Jimmy: Last year we ran battles monthly, kept track of wins and losses. In the finals we took the top eight crews with the best records and put them against each other in single elimination brackets. They battles down to one crew. That winning crew was awarded with plane tickets to a battle in the USA. This year we put the crews in three separate brackets. Those crews will battle each other for two months. The crew with the lowest score will be booted out and we will restructures the brackets for the next rounds. Then in the finals, match up the records of the crews against each other.
Joshua: This season each event has 9 FED battles. 3 brackets of 3 crews each. Crews are awarded 1 point from each judge and we tally the points at the end of the event. Crews only battle the crews in their bracket for 3 events. In December we make a cut and take the top two crews from each bracket. In February we take the top four crews and they battle down to a winner. The winners get four round trip plane tickets to any event in the country. Alongside the FED battles we also offer a 1-on-1 for $50. This gives a chance for kids not in the FED to compete and hone their skills and get some experience.
Gavin: Being on the sidelines running it, what's it like for you seeing these different groups mesh their styles and directly compete against each other for the crowd?
Joshua: I’m excited for these crews to be able to battle in front of an audience. All of the crews put a lot of work into their dance and it’s nice to see them get some recognition for their efforts. Crews are stepping it up this year and I expect the battles will continue to push what the scene is capable of.
Jimmy: We constantly see everybody improving their moves and style as the battles continue on. Everybody has that drive to be the best. Sometimes it doesn't even matter that there is a prize at the end, a lot of the guys are in it for that self-satisfaction of being the best. And that is a big drive to their motivation.
Gavin: Jimmy, what led to you moving to Hawaii, and how was it leaving Josh in charge from there?
Jimmy: I've been involved in the carwash business for about ten years. I was currently working at a carwash/detail as a manager when I was approached about a possible job in Hawaii. Of course I said I was interested, but I never thought it would actually happen. But the guy kept calling me and when I realized it was really gonna happen I told him I would like to go but I wouldn't be able to for a few months. So he kept after me and every time we talked he would up the deal. So I figured this is an opportunity that not very many people get so I might as well try it out. If it doesn't work out then I can always come home. I knew I could count on Josh on takin' charge. Mainly when I was home I was pretty much just the guy behind the scenes dealing with the money and the business side. I'm more the guy that knows how to make the business successful and Josh is more the guy that does the Public Relation type stuff. So over here I can still run numbers and tell him what to do with the money and all that, and over there he can still host the battles and keep good contacts with the public.
Gavin: Josh, how did you take it losing Jimmy and taking over the task of running it?
Joshua: Pyro moving was rough. Him and I have known each other for so long it’s like your brother move away. Pyro and I did a really good job of picking up the slack for each other. Without him here it means I have to be really good about getting everything done. It can get kind of stressful but a lot of people have offered help and I take it.
Gavin: Early September marked the first competition for the 2010-2011 season. How did the first competition go and what was the public reaction to it?
Jimmy: From what I understand it was a better start than last years beginning, which is a very positive note. And to have the public that is outside the scene of breakin', such as the news and local business' be interested in what we've been doin' is a lot bigger than what we have planned on. We started out just tryin' to make competitions more interesting and fun for everyone. And to motivate the local crews. So far it's exceeded my expectations.
Joshua: The first event went really well. The turnout was good and we were able to pull some new people. The crowd seemed to really enjoy it and the dancers are looking forward to the season. I think for a lot of people it ends up not being what they expected to see, but in a good way. I think that’s part of why the events are growing.
Gavin: We're coming up on the second event on the 2nd, what have you got line up and how can people come check out the show?
Joshua: For the first time ever we are providing clinics. These clinics are open to all and are a way to help the bboys progress and meet bboys from other places. On October 1st, Meen 187 of the Dynamic Rockers (NYC) will be doing a clinic. His Top Rock clinic will provide the bboys with new skills that they can take to the jam on Saturday. $7 clinic only, 10$ clinic and event, all over at Dance Biz (2724 South 3600 West).
Jimmy: We promote heavily on Facebook and also rely on the local crews to spread the word to get their friends out there. We've hooked up with local hip-hop artists to give them a chance at showin' their skills on the turn-tables or on the mic, which will bring a lot of people together. A lot of this has been word of mouth. Hopefully with interviews like this it will give the general public more knowledge on the scene. If we market to everybody and only a couple kids show up and in turn become interested in what we got going, then it was all worth it. It takes a lot to influence somebody on a new idea, and I feel a good accomplishment when we can do that.
Gavin: Going local for a bit, what's your take on the local BBoy community in Utah, both good and bad?
Jimmy: When I started it was way small. Over time it got a little bigger. When we started the Federation after the second battle we noticed a huge influx of dancers and crews. I'm very satisfied where the Utah scene has gone. We used to throw 1-vs-1 battles and to get 12 people to sign up was like pulling teeth. Now we'll have a 1-vs-1 and 40 people will sign up for it! As long as it grows and gets bigger like it has then there's nothing bad about it.
Joshua: The local scene here has seen an explosion in the last year. There are a lot of new kids that are super eager to learn. I’d like to see the skill level improve though. I think that if we can keep the momentum up for the next couple years that Utah will have bboys that can compete on an international level.
Gavin: What's your take on demonstrations and competitions being included in events like the Utah Arts Fest and Craft Lake City?
Joshua: I think it’s good for the dance to be included in anything possible. I also think it’s important for people to know the history of the dance and have an opportunity to separate the commercial aspect of the dance from the cultural aspect. I don’t like referring to Hip-Hop as a culture but there are significant meanings in how bboys dance. I think it’s important to know what they are if you expect to grow as a dancer.
Jimmy: Well as with everything, there's those that do it right and those that do it wrong. Sometimes breakin' is abused by outsiders to make themselves look good. As for the Arts Festival, this would be a great opportunity for bboys to show off a great art! but in the past the wrong people had the connections to get bboys into shows. They would do it their way and have the bboys do what they want, which doesn't portray the true art of bboyin. As of lately, Chase (the owner of Uprok) has stepped up huge on the Art scene and incorporated hip-hop properly.
Gavin: Being both organizers and pros yourself, what kind of skills do you appreciate the most out of people starting out? And what do you suggest for those wanting to get involved with it?
Jimmy: The biggest skill for a beginner would to be stickin' with it!!! It's hard at first. You learn to do moves that your body is not used to and you ache and hurt a lot. It takes a lot of bruises to learn some moves. So just stickin' with it is the best thing you can do.
Joshua: On of my favorite things to see right now is that all the young kids are aggressive. Bboying is an aggressive dance and to see the young kids battle the old guys with no fear is amazing. The one thing I want them to know is that everyone starts from nothing. The only thing that separates us from them is practice and experience.
Gavin: How is it for you guys to get support from local shops in spreading the word about it?
Joshua: We’ve been trying to promote the events a lot more this season. So far the response has been good. Most places will let us put up posters and flyers and we’re working on picking up some sponsors.
Jimmy: Our biggest pipeline is Uprok. They have big connections around town, but we would love to get much more support from other business' around town, and I think after the success we've had with the events, more local business' will be willing to support the cause.
Gavin: Along side that, how important is it to support and be supported by the DJ and hip-hop communities in Utah?
Jimmy: Bboyin is hip-hop! It's the main root of it all. A lot of old-school hip-hop emcee's say that without bboyin there wouldn't be hiphop! And of course a bboy cant feel the music without a DJ. So they are a huge importance at a battle, competition, show, or club. They can make the bboy make or break how they're feeling. There is music out there that when it gets played a bboy can't just stand there and listen, he just goes off. Bboyin, DJ'ing, Graffiti, and Emcee'in are the four elements of hip-hop, they all relate and all belong together. So it's not so much as a question to how important is it to support and be supported, but more of a requisite
Joshua: The DJ can make or break a battle. Bboying is a dance and if the music sucks the jam will suck. There aren’t a lot of DJ’s that play the music we like to listen to so I’m very thankful for the DJ’s that we do have and would like to see more get into it. DJ’ing is like photography… everyone does it but most of them suck. Ha ha.
Gavin: What can we expect from both of you and the Federation over the rest of the year?
Joshua: For the rest of the year you can expect the FED battles to get better and more intense as we get down to the finals. Hopefully we can pick up a couple sponsors and that will lead to better prizes and clinics for the dancers. As a spectator I’d expect to see great events and great competitions with some of the best dancers in the state.
Jimmy: Everyone can expect the Federation to get bigger and better as long as we can keep it successful. Me and Josh aren't in it for the money. Every battle we save all the money into a bank account and use that money for cash prizes, plane tickets and money to bring out other famous bboys to do clinics for the local scene. Last year we threw six battles, and Josh and I each made about $500 each off of them. Considering at the Finals we pulled in over $1100, and that was one battle out of six. So the money isn't going into our pocket, it's goin' towards making the battles bigger and better. The only way you can be successful is caring about the event and what everyone wants to see at the event. If we only cared about our wallets then this Series would have already failed.
Gavin: Aside the obvious, is there anything you'd like to plug or promote?
Jimmy: BBoy Federation, X Series, Uprok, all the local emcee's, DJ's graffiti artists, bboys, AOD BBoy Crew, TXT Media, Lahaina Carwash, Haven Empire, GhettoSlider Clothing, Utah Arts Alliance, and the Boys & Girls Club of America.
Joshua: We provide info the FED events as well as other local events. You can download free mixes and watch footage of the jams. This is also a good way to get in touch with us if you’re looking for people who teach or places to practice.
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