When B-boy Abstrak visits Chennai

The B-boy from Florida talks about the talent pool in Chennai and career prospects in the dance form

The workshop was scheduled to end at 7.30 pm. At 8.30 pm, no one — neither the 20-odd B-boys and B-girls nor their trainer — showed any signs of stopping. By 9 pm, some participants had rushed back home, but most looked like they had no intention of letting go. Like disciples in rare contact with a guru, they huddled around the man who had flown in from New York to spruce up their skills, soaking in every last bit of expertise they could.

B-boy Abstrak, founding member of Tampa, Florida-based acclaimed breaking crew Skill Methodz, was as enthusiastic as his young participants, and showing no signs of fatigue at the fag end of a day that had spilled over by nearly two hours.

“Everywhere I go, every B-boy is dope,” he says, “There’s always going to be a selective few that will be at a very high level. In India, there definitely is... they want that culture, and if you receive that, it’s not going to stop you.”

The B-boy culture is now spreading to multiple countries, and their role is something that he’s more than ready to acknowledge. “When I think of B-boy history, I don’t think of the 1970s, 60s or 30s. I think of ancient times and celebrations, with people just dancing in front of a fire. Even if it wasn’t called break dancing, I have a feeling that back in ancient times, somebody was doing something like what we’re doing now.” Even today, the dance form is spreading like a virus, “but a good virus,” he adds with a smile.

Breaking it down

When B-boy Abstrak visits Chennai

There are two levels to his own entry into the dance form, he says. “When I was a kid, about seven years old, I was dancing. This was around 1983. Then I stopped. I moved from New York to Florida, and then I got back into it again. There was a talent show in my school, and the guy doing the show was a B-boy from California,” he recalls.

Abstrak adds that he wanted to do a fusion of hip hop and breaking, but eventually decided to pursue only breaking and go into it in depth. “I needed to commit myself to breaking, so I could learn everything. And then I could go back to house or to hip hop.”

The fruit of this commitment has definitely been sweet, with multiple titles under his crew’s collective belts and years of adrenaline-filled memories for Abstrak himself. “The most memorable battle I had was with this guy from Europe. We battled for almost 50 rounds, some time around 2002. You have five or ten rounds, and we could have stopped whenever, but we just kept going. We battled not just till the end of the jam, but till everybody left. There were four people left. And mind you, there were over 100 people there, because it was a small jam. No music, no DJ, just me and him, just battling. ”

But despite the magic of it, he considers B-boying a very difficult career and wouldn’t recommend it easily. “I’ve done it for 12 years as a career, and it was not easy. You work one month, and if you don’t have a regular job, you don’t know what to do the rest of the time.”

He recommends, instead, that B-boys and B-girls find some other lucrative profession, and pursue this as a passion on the side.

“I do it myself; I’m a videographer,” he smiles.

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Printable version | Feb 22, 2020 10:09:33 PM |

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