People know me as a social dancer at best. In my head, though, I’ve got some serious moves. I can pirouette and krump like the best of them (thanks, So You Think You Can Dance). Take me to an intense dance battle between the new and seasoned B-Boys in Kuwait, however, and my inexperience shows. At the CYFR, I had much to witness, and much to learn.
When we got there, the energy was already palpable – groups of young men, warming up, chatting, and sizing up the competition. Across from the drinks station and the DJ Boiskout’s booth along the edges of the room, we found a prime spot to watch the events of the evening unfold. Then the fireworks began, slowly at first. An initial warm up round had each contestant take to the center of the floor and do an introductory jig. Once that was done, led by MC Slash or Hussein Al-Shammery to the rest of Kuwait, and judged by renowned acclaimed B-Boy Primo Cherbal, the battles commenced. The first round had 16 participants square off against each other. While immediate standouts for me were Hush, Anthony, Nana and Beiruti, I was also baffled. Where were the stunts and the tricks that I had prepared myself for?
I was to get my answer soon enough. But first, we took a break from the building intensity as all participants were treated to some sliders from Rockhouse Sliders. Once we returned, the boys went back into battle and how! As Round 2 began, and the remaining 8 battled it out for the top prize, I began to notice something. Each of the contestants had amped their performance. There was a sense of urgency in the battles this time around – a lot of ‘No More Mr. Nice Guy’ personas from the boys. A word about Walid Al-Enezi or Hush, as he’s called. He caught my eye at the start, this dancer who seemed to know everyone in the room. But there was something about his movement. Slow, cautious almost during the warm-up, performing only for a fraction of the time the others did, with about half the moves. His first battle, against another B-Boy Roughness, went well, with Hush taking that round, but I didn’t think he’d go very far. Anthony Ahmed Atef, on the other hand, impressed me from his very first battle – confidant, sure, alive and electric.
Anthony’s battle during Round 2 was just as magnetic. From the minute he took on his competitor, it was an easy guess that he was the one advancing. Hush, for his second battle, had a lot of moves that were good, but didn’t seem to guarantee a place in final battles. That is until the last few seconds of his battle, when he executed this one-fingered flip to perfection. “So he has a few tricks up his sleeve”, I thought. A friend sitting with me concurred. “It’s all about the strategy”, he told me. “He’s not going to reveal everything he can do right away, wait till he goes up to the finals”. This second round saw four of the dancers moving on to the final stages of the battle – Hush, Anthony, Andrea Joseph (Link) and Tails. While they took the time to pause between battles, the crowd was entertained by rappers Tripla Abdulla Trip, Abdullah Trill and Dom Shatti who put each up a fun performance.
Then the final battles took place. Anthony against Tails, and Hush against Link. And let me tell you, the electricity in the room was worth bottling up. You could have powered a house with it. And I, your ignorant dance battle visitor, got to witness firsthand how the smartest strategists save their best for last. Link, who had been skating from one round to the next with some low-key battle moves, ended up placing second, against eventual winner Hush – whom I had grossly underestimated (despite my friends pronouncing him the eventual winner from minute one). Anthony ended the battle beating out an almost equally stellar show by Tails for third place.
For the other highlights that night, we had three master classes – one by the judge Primo and another by Doss and the third by performers Ahmed Kicks and Melanie. When I got home, my family asked about my evening. I wanted to answer that I spent the event at a dance battle but wouldn’t have been the entire truth. What I had spent the entire evening experiencing, was a brilliant case study in the anatomy of a battle and its battle horses – those who assess the competition, those who analyze the other’s game, and those save their trump cards for when it truly matters.
Photography by Salman Moghaddam. Originally published on www.kingdome.co. You can follow Kingdome on Facebook and Soundcloud @KingdomeMagazine, Instagram @Kingdome.co, Twitter @KingdomeCo and on YouTube: Kingdome Magazine.