Recently, my friend Tony suggested I try out Breakdancing. Naturally, I thought that this would be an excellent opportunity to boost my street cred. Breakdancers are pretty strong, cool, and relatively impressive. Yes, being a breakdancer sounded like a pretty swell idea, although I was afraid that I might actually break something while giving it a go. However, as the recent past has taught me, failure, humiliation, and often-times disaster make great writing material. Thankfully, no limbs have been broken as yet in the making of this column. This is a trend that I hope continues.
I met up with Cardiff University’s Breakdance Society who gave me a little taster. My brother, Jordan McFarlane, and my friend, Joe, came along to help. Jordan (who I think is an awesome photographer) took some action shots which you can see here, whilst Joe (he’s alright) helped out with some of the filming. The Breakdance Society was so friendly, and helped me to grasp a lot of the moves. They had a little bit of help from a group of local breakdancers named The Illumination Crew, some of which used to be students at Cardiff University.
Breakdancing, otherwise known as B-Boying, is a form of street dance that includes some pretty epic moves. There are four types of movement in Break Dancing: Top Rock, Down Rock, Power Moves, and Freezes. This was a taster session, meaning I got to try a little bit of everything.
Here are some of the classic breakdance moves that I learnt about in the session:
Apart from my initial apprehension as to whether I would break my arm or not, I thought the top rock went pretty well. You just had to sway to the side a bit, ensuring that if you stepped to the right you moved your arms behind you to the right… or was it the left? Welcome to the nightmare that is my sense of direction. Telling my left from my right is hard enough most of the time, without having to copy synchronised dance movements. I got there in the end. Grooving in time to the music and everything.
Here’s where things got a little bit, in the words of Run DMC, “tricky”. Down Rock is the form of Breakdance when your hands and feet both touch the floor. The accomplished breakdancer aims to show their skill and speed at their footwork. One of the most famous breakdancing moves is the six-step. You can see my attempt at working some breakdancing magic at youtube.com/waysicanbeawesome. When editing the video, I briefly considered speeding up the footage to make it look like I was “getting it”. However, I realised that would also make the people in the background look like breakdancing super-humans, so decided against this.
This was probably the most unglamorous move on my part, and made me realize how strong you have to be to be any good at breakdancing. When you do a breakdancing freeze, you do just that, often in an interesting body position that requires balance. The freeze I tried was called a Palanche, where you freeze with your body straddled parallel over the ground, while your arms are straight and use your strength to hold your body weight. That really wasn’t going to happen just yet…
I spoke to Sophie, one of the Cardiff University Breakdancing committee members.
“I love breakdancing because it’s different to any other style of dance I’ve tried. It’s not easy, but when you can finally pull off a move there’s a real sense of achievement You really have to work at it. Apart from that the culture and the community really drew me in… I’m not great at breakdancing but they encouraged me to keep going and they’re some of the best people I’ve met in Cardiff”.
If you’d like to get involved in Breakdancing, you’re welcome to their taster sessions from 17:00-19:00 on Saturdays in Room 4J in the Students’ Union. Thank you Cardiff University Breakdancing Society, I loved that even though I had no idea what I was doing, I still felt mildly cool. Tony, I’ll be ready for a dance battle soon (and by soon, I probably don’t mean soon).