Freestyle daredevilry sets the tone

  • Indra Shekhar Singh, Hindustan Times, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 23, 2015 21:22 IST

Dancing fever grips south Delhi and how! Freestyle dancing, a new trend is catching up fast with youngsters. With over 7,000 dancing enthusiasts in south Delhi alone, one is sure to find them beat boxing, free styling, Bboying, break dancing, popping and trumping in various parks here.

The Mecca of freestyle dancers is a green tinted gazebo in Deer Park. On any given evening, you will see about 25 boys, with a portable music system grooving to hip hop beats. You will find them spinning on their heads, doing body waves and helicopter moves on the floor. The energy of the place is overwhelming. Dancers, Bboys and contemporary dance crews assemble after 3pm every day. They experiment with their bodies, fighting tooth and nail for the dance crown. The winner of these battles is the uncrowned king of the south.

There are about 4,000 professional and amateur freestylers in the south, who are part of this movement of sort. “Now, each area has their own underground dance crews and dance academies. We see a whole bunch of them during dance battles,” said Naveen Edwin John, 20. He has been ‘breaking’ for the past five years.

“Areas such has Sector 1 RK Puram, Khirki extension, GK, Sriniwaspuri, Lajpat Nagar and Hauz Khas in the south are filled with dancers who meet regularly to dance in parks and public spaces,” he adds. Some of the popular dance crews in the south include Agnastik, Kill Breakers, Slum Gods, PST, Tandava, Project Street Dance, and Swag Gang Crew.

The Step Up movies, Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, and popular TV shows like Dance India Dance have helped popularize dancing in the country, but surprisingly and contrary to perception, they are not the inspiration for these dancers, who relate with the global hip hop culture and have developed a sub culture of their own. They dress different, talk less and dance more. Like hip hop artistes, they, too, prefer distressed jeans, vests, caps, jerseys, coloured hair and don’t feel shy to take off their shirts to expose their well toned bodies.

Akash Parcha, 22, has been dancing for the last eight years. The Italian movie Breakout got him to start dancing. He trains on his own with the help of online videos as the cost of enrolling in an academy is too high. He comes to the Deer Park every day to help others. “The trend is on the rise. Each day we see new faces who want to dance and mind you they can already dance very well. Hip hop culture has already made a deep impact here,” he said.

In the absence of sponsorships or big dance events, or a regular source of funds, these dancers have doubts about their future, who have to bear all the expenses of competing in dance battles.

The A Twins, from the Swag Gang Crew, Anuj and Aman, are from Meerut and have been dancing for over five years now. “My father is in the army, and almost thrice a week he tells us to get serious with our lives and find a job,” said Aman. He is already a professional dancer, but due to limited opportunities, is dependent on his parents for financial support.

“With lack of events in Delhi, there is every little encouragement from the society. For example, if four events are organized in Mumbai each month, one event is organized in Delhi in two months,” added Akash.

The dancers feel the government of Delhi must now recognize these trends and start thinking out of the box to promote them. “Delhi can never be a global city till it neglects its culture. It’s time the authorities supported us and helped in highlighting emerging modern cultural trends in the city,” said Ashu Rawat, 20, a dancer from south Delhi.

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