Jump up, jump up, and get down!
A group of former and current Oakton students, along with their friends throughout the Chicagoland area, are sharing campus space to bring the energy of underground hip hop on the dance floor.
In 2017, a close community of breakdancers a.k.a. b-boys, started to bond when OCC student Kevin Ly, and his cousin Andy began inviting friends to join them in their breakdance sessions. More people, friends of friends, joined through invitation.
“I started back in 2017-2018 back when I was attending OCC. I was initially planning to start up a [breakdance] club and I was in the process of doing so but then I stopped attending OCC. I wanted to bring something different and add value to the campus while doing what I love. I had a list of people interested in joining but sadly it didn’t happen. I am glad I still get to use the space to break with friends that I am lucky enough to invite,” said Ly.
The group plans their meetings through a group chat on facebook messenger app. The meetings occur about once a week on either Tuesday or Thursday evenings.
Limited access to the campus athletic facility during athletic games and maintenance work in addition to busy and conflicting work schedules among the group members challenges their ability to meet up and break dance as a group. Despite these challenges, the group members are motivated to continue to build social connections and develop their dance skills.
What motivates them to break at Oakton, their replies varied.
“What motivates us all is nothing more than to be better, and because we got love for the dance. It is also great exercise,” said Ly.
“What motivates me to breakdance as a group is being able to grow as a family and being able to grow together as a group,” said Andy.
“I mostly enjoy meeting new people and sharing knowledge and pretty much-having fun,” said Rash, another dancer.
“Breaking is something I constantly always want to improve. It requires creativity and originality. It’s also a social dance because it is naturally competitive. I always know that I can find this at the Oakton session,” said Rhyno, another dancer.
The group was regularly meeting up at the Oakton campus once a week during Fall 2019 and Spring 2020 until the COVID-19 campus restriction following the campus closure during the 2020 lockdown halted their access to the Oakton campus.
“We had a great group of maybe 10 people and sometimes more before covid. Covid definitely changed that for a lot of us. Happy we are slowly allowed to come together again,” said Ly.
Their opinions on what they focus on during their breakdance session, and how do they assess a breakdance session that is considered good or satisfying to them varies too.
“I would try to stretch well, warm up first before I approach what I am doing like power move for example. I am always practicing in repetition to build strength and stability.
I’d say, the best session is when we are doing a variety of activities such as seven to smoke, mock battle, top rock battle, crew battle, and so on,” said Andy.
“My main focus is to become connected to the music and being able to surprise myself by pushing myself in every session. Just go out and freestyle. You have to be connected to the energy of the people and the music. When we are all having fun, then I consider it a good session” said Rhyno
“I focus on discovering new moves and relearning old moves. When everyone is vibing and having fun, it is a good session.” said Steven, another dancer.
“I look at breaking like how I look at life, it’s always a battle within yourself. When I break, I always focus on having a good time by being free, because only then will you fully express yourself. I really want to feel the music when I dance, because it’s all about what you feel when you express,” said Ly.
The group members welcome any members to join them as Rhyno said “Absolutely, that would only add to the energy and enthusiasm. It would be cool to see other dancers.” said Rhyno.
When asked about their hope or wish for the OCC breakdance group moving forward, they reply:
“I hope that new people join. It will be more interesting to see more dancers derive from OCC and come up in the Chicago breaking sense. I started breaking in Des Plaines, where there are only a handful of dancers. So I would like to see the next generation come up,” said Rhyno.
“I wish that everybody can stay true to themselves and be connected and hopefully to keep growing and teach each other and keep the dance alive,” said Andy.
“I hope for the group to continue practicing and continue to grow together as breakdancers,” said Rash.
Rhyno, Andy and Kevin, Rash, and others have found OCC as their platform to cultivate their friendship and express their love for the dance. In addition to OCC, breaking communities around the world are growing together through the annual worldwide competitions such as Red Bull BC One and it is only expected to grow when it makes its Olympic debut in Paris 2024.