Monday, August 24, 2009

Street Dancing in the 2009 Economy

It's going to be interesting in the coming days to see reactions and impressions of one of the biggest events in LA this past weekend: Freestyle Session 12th Anniversary and How Tha West Was Won, both at Club Circus in Hollywood, CA. 

Some of the highlights included:

1 on 1 popping final: Poppin J (K-OGS from Korea) vs. Jsmooth (Machine Gone Funk)
1 on 1 locking final: Flo Master vs. Win
Semifinal bboy crew battle: Zulu Kings vs. Monsta Squad
Final bboy crew battle: The Squadron vs. Monsta Squad
Power move exhibition battle: Demon vs. Marcio (both from France)

There is much more to be written and discussed, as we'll see online at forums and Youtube comments pages.

But, we definitely felt the impact of our current economy at FSS/HTWWW. The crowd at both events were significantly smaller than last year's edition. Although there were plenty of vendors, you could see that folks were saving money for travel and housing costs. Many dancers came from outside the U.S. to compete in this event, hailing from South Korea, France, Russia, Canada, and many more nations.

How will these harder economic times affect the street dance culture? Will we see fewer people traveling to compete at events outside of their home country/city? Or will there be fewer bigger events within the calendar year?

As dancers, we're not immune to the global financial crisis. We're already feeling the impact with our families, jobs, schools, etc. It's interesting to see how this might affect our dance mentality. Will we give a greater appreciation to our dance today as there's no telling what will happen tomorrow? Will we take fewer classes because it's expensive to take studio classes even once or twice a week when they cost anywhere from $10-20?

One might think a generation of youth could turn to dance as a more cost-effective form of physical activity, artistic expression, and entertainment. After all, if a new, aspiring dancer was exposed to street dance culture via Youtube, it doesn't cost them to view videos besides having access to a computer, electricity, and an Internet connection. You can start practicing, meeting up with friends locally, and spend hours of free time working on your craft. It might be cheaper than buying a movie ticket. 

Harder economic times can also lead to us playing less of a consumer of pop media culture and drive us to create. It would be amazing to see a creative renaissance within street dance styles, with new directions inspired by the mood of this economic climate. The less time we spend consuming media culture, the more time we could apply to dance. Now, this isn't a call to abandon media culture or even a critique of it. But it's a hypothetical thought that we could consider. It's worth taking a look at some of the creative movements that have come up in world history and how they were influenced by social-economic upheaval. 

Perhaps another development that could occur is a greater appreciation for other styles besides your own. Harder times often lead us to be more merciful to others and to be more community-minded. With lightning-speed communication technology at our fingertips, perhaps our conversations will change in ways that will allow more intimate collaboration between different communities.

If anything, we know that as dancers, we are intimately involved with the rest of the world through what we do. It's clear that we're part of the global community. Now, the question is how can we bring change on a global scale through our passion?

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