Deciphering the Moves at the CYFR
Written by: Ashley Alleluya
Photography: Salman Moghaddam
People know me as a social dancer at best. All my dancing was either of the exuberant Bollywood variety during my childhood, or of the energetic trance-y variety during my stint as a hippie. In my head, though, I’ve got some serious moves. I can pirouette and krump and do headstands 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 last Friday evening, I had much to witness and much to learn. If you’re looking for technical descriptions of the 475 or so flips and tricks I got to see up-close and firsthand, this is isn’t the article for you. What I can tell you is how the evening made me feel. The CYFR showed me Kuwait via a bunch of dance battles peppered with rap and dance-offs.
We got there on a Friday evening that was hot and humid – what else do you expect from a July evening? The energy was already palpable – groups of young men, warming up, chatting and sizing up the competition already had us feeling excited. Apart from the drinks station and the DJ Boiskout’s booth along the edges of the room, Kingdome had its little booth set up in a corner of the space, a prime spot to watch the events of the evening unfold, if you ask me. 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, as if to say “Hey.” Once that was done, led by MC Slash (Hussein Al-Shammery to the rest of Kuwait), and judged by renowned acclaimed B-Boy Primo, the battles commenced. The first round had 16 participants square off against each other, taking turns while Primo watched and assessed. Immediate standouts for me were Hush, Anthony, Nana and Beiruti. I was initially 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 scrumptious sliders from Rockhouse Sliders. The fortification seemed necessary – once we returned, the boys went back into battle and how! As Round Two began, and the remaining eight started to battle it out for the top prize. Soon, I noticed a change. Each of the contestants had, at least in my opinion, amped their performance up a notch. There was a sense of urgency in the battles this time around – a lot of No More Mr. Nice Guy personas emerging from boys who, up until that point, were full of smiles and hugs.
A word about Walid Al-Enezi or Hush, as he’s called. He caught my eye at the start; the dancer who seemed to know everyone in the room. But there
was something about his movement from the start. Slow, almost cautious during the warm-up, performing only for a fraction of the time the others did, with about half the moves. His first battle, against Roughness, went well, with Hush taking that round with a few well-placed moves, but I didn’t think he’d go very far. Anthony Ahmed Atef, on the other hand, impressed me from his very first battle – confident, sure, alive and electric.
Anthony’s battle during Round Two 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, continued more of the same. A few moves that that were decent, but didn’t seem to
guarantee that he’d make it to the final battles. That is until the last few seconds, when he executed this one-fingered flip to perfection. I remember audibly gasping while the others erupted in cheers. “So he has a few tricks up his sleeve,” I thought, suddenly looking at Hush in a whole new light. 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 and reboot, the crowd was entertained by rappers Tripla Abdulla Trip, Abdullah Trill and Dom Shatti who each put up a fun performance.
Then the final battles took place. Anthony against Tails, and Hush against Link. I assure you, the electricity in the room was worth bottling up. You could have powered a house with it,
maybe even a street of houses. Each dancer took their game to a level so high they shattered the proverbial dance ceiling. And I, your ignorant dance battle visitor for the most part, got to witness firsthand how the best strategists save their best for last. Link, who had been skating from one round to the next with some low-key yet consistently amazing battle moves, ended up placing second, against eventual winner Hush. Hush – whom I had grossly underestimated (despite my friends pronouncing him the eventual winner from minute one). Anthony, who I had placed my imaginary money on, ended the battle beating out an almost equally stellar show by Tails for third place.
As for the other highlights that night, we had two masterclasses – one by the judge Primo, who, in brief bursts, showed toned contestants exactly how it’s done, and another by Dossy, who must be seen and not just written about. Accompanying him in their own little dance-offs were performers Ahmed Kicks and Melanie, who showcased three different styles of dance packed into one powerful performance. When I got home, my family asked me where I’d spent the evening and if I’d had a good time. I wanted to answer that I spent the evening at a dance battle, but couldn’t. That 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 who save their trump cards for when it truly matters. Sun Tzu probably didn’t have B-Boys in minds when he wrote the Art of War, but an evening of trying to decipher the CYFR sure felt like it. I cannot wait for the next edition.