|Photo by local lensman, Eddie Rehfeldt|
by Spyridon "Spin" Nicon
I’d like to paint you a picture. I’m shaking up my metaphoric spray can, so the aerosol can speak. It’s Winter Quarter, Week 4 of PNA’s “Comprehending Hip Hop” series. We are gathered in Room 36 of the Brick Building on a rainy Monday night, and the space is alive with energy. Almost everyone in class has brought a guest, and the demographic spans three generations. Tonight’s topic: B-Boys (aka Break Boys, those who dance to the break - more commonly referred to as Breakdancers).
After three sessions of diving deeper into hip hop’s humble beginnings - and now global reach - students are eager to share their newly discovered knowledge with a friend. My mantra from the very beginning has been “the more, the merrier.” More voices equal better discussion. Better discussion equals deeper comprehension. Keep the math simple, and the conversation complex.
As we settle in, conversation enthusiast and class member, Chris Guise arrives with his older brother, 14 year old son, and 12 year old daughter. They are toting two large bags, and surprise everyone gathered with Bluebird Ice Cream (shop local!) in a variety of flavors. Needless to say, a well-received and generous gesture. Hip hop and ice cream on a Monday night….. What could be better? Taste buds are happy and the stage is set.
During our very first session, class participant, Linda Quirk casually mentioned that her grandson is part of a local dance crew - one that incorporates many of the original elements of b-boying. I am ecstatic, of course. I spend the next three weeks corresponding with Linda, encouraging her to reach out to her grandson. (She says, “Honey, I’ve called him, and he’s not returning my calls.” I say, “Text him, he’s a teenager.”) In the end, she comes through big.
Not only does her grandson, Ezra Angelou-Lysaker show up, but he brings along his friend and fellow dancer, Sam Boyar. These two gifted, local teens proceeded to dazzle and amaze, as they treated us to a handful of next generation routines during our session. In addition to showcasing the most current interpretations of this dance form - born in the Bronx over four decades ago – Sam and Ezra added a tremendous amount of perspective and eloquence to the dynamic discussion that ensued.