I View Break Dancing in a Whole New Light

On Saturday, January 18th, 2014 my organization helped sponsor a Break Dance competition for youth from the Southeast Philadelphia area.  It was held at the Southwark House at 101 Ellsworth Street.  The competition was open to teenagers between the ages of 14 - 21.  The grand prize was a $150.00 gift card from TD Bank.  The South Philadelphia EPIC Stakeholders collaborated with the Southeast Philadelphia Collaborative to make this happen.  Nathan Schneck and I visualized the program and it came to fruition in a positive way.

We had a two fold purpose for this event.  As part of the South Philadelphia Coalition, one of the requirements for admission was to complete a youth substance abuse survey.  We are pursuing a grant that would help to address the use of gateway drugs at the intersections of 7th & Snyder Avenue and 22nd & Tasker Streets.  With the help of Mike and Jasmine Bell, we had at least 45 surveys completed.  This helps our original goal of 100 youth surveys.  Also, participants were asked to contribute $2.00 or canned food.  We collected over 40 cans of food that will be donated to the food cupboard at the Houston House.  It was also a safe environment away from some of the extreme violence that has been affecting youth in Philadelphia.

The DJ's really made the party go.  We got there at around 1:00 for an event that started at 2:00 PM.  We then had to run out to get wires because the amps wouldn't work without them.  Once they were connected, the party was on.  The dancers were serious in their preparation.  The closest I had ever been to this type of action was in the movies at You Got Served.  I was also impressed by the diversity of the participants.  It was a Model United Nations.  White, Black, Asian, Mixed Race and what I would classify as other.  It was only male dancers but it was a number of young ladies supporting the guys.  I want to thank Delores Mills for her participation also.

The process involved three judges who oversaw the battles .  It was approximately 45 dancers that started.  It was a single battle elimination and the thing that I was most impressed with was the fact that no one argued with the judges.  In my youth, we rarely argued with referees in basketball games but I remember that some of them suffered serious abuse.  The winners shook hands with the loser and proceeded to dance again.  At the top of every hour there was a 10 minute break to practice moves. The judges were no joke either.  I see the results of these young guys coming to the Teen Lounge and practicing every day.

I couldn't stay to see the winner.  We were making dinner for Gary's daughter and it started at 6:00.  I heard the winner was a young guy who had just been dancing for about two years.  I noticed that he was extremely athletic when he was practicing.  It was an awesome display of competition and friendship.  I am a better Community Organizer as a result of my participation in these activities.  I also am going to try my hand at some break dance moves.  Sike!!   

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