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Ultimate b-boy battle in the Bronx
Special to the AmNews
Originally posted 8/14/2003

It could have been mistaken for any typical Sunday summer battle between the mighty crews from New York and Boston. All the elements were in place: from heavy hitting to pinpoint control, clutch execution to flamboyant style, in-your-face outbursts to close judgment calls. All played out in front of a boisterous Bronx crowd. Yet this wasn�t Yankee Stadium, fielded by two teams of 25 players. It was Jimmy�s Bronx Caf�, where two crews of six playas � Boston�s Ground Effects Crew vs. NYC/Miami�s Brat Steady Crew � squared off for the finals of the Ultimate B-boy/girl Throw Down � capping a contest that began six hours earlier with 14 crews hungry for the $5,000 cash purse.
Presented by Fila, ESPN magazine and Universal Breakin�, the event attracted hundreds of young spectators and some of the best B-boys/girls from around the country (and Canada). Speedy of NYC Breakers hosted; DJ Trails, DJ Slinky and the inventor of the turntable scratch, Grand Wizard Theodore, manned the wheels of steel; and an ESPN camera crew recorded the spinfest for the Mos Def-hosted ESPN program �Block Party,� to be aired August 22.
If ESPN and break-dancing seem a strange match, then I highly suggest you moonwalk on over to the next big B-boy/girl challenge, where you might be shocked at the staggering combination of artistry and athleticism these dancers display, particularly if �Flashdance� was the last time you saw anyone strut their stuff. But it was no surprise to those that have spent years fighting to get what the mainstream labeled �break-dancing� over two decades ago to be recognized, if not as an Olympic sport then, like freestyling on a BMX bike or skateboard, as an extreme (or X) sport, complete with their own �X Games.�
And extremely talented is what these dancers indisputably proved to be. A quick breakdown (no pun intended) of the challenge is as follows. Each �battle� occurred between two crews. A �crew� consisted of five breakers and one popper. In the first round, each breaker and popper (alternating between crews) got one chance to bust their moves. For the quarter- and semifinals, everyone received two go-arounds. The final was a 15-minute free for all. Merit was based in part on originality, athleticism, choreography, improvisation, style and attitude. The judges included legendary B-boy/girl icons such as Speedy Legs, Honeyrockwell, Crazy Legs, Glide and Track 2. Grand Wizard Theodore provided the hyper-kinetic beats. Rob Base rapped a little. With that said, attempting to give a blow-by-blow of the contest would prove, for this writer, impossible, for these dancers/artists/athletes consistently defied the describable. Let�s just say it was off the hook!
�If you�re gonna be a sore loser, don�t battle,� was the two cents of host Speedy, whereas Speedy Legs advised the poppers to �make sure you hit hard.� The defending champions, Boston�s Ground Effects Crew, showed exceptional synchronized maneuvers as they breezed past Dirty Jersey to the semis, as did favorites Brat Steady Crew, whose mind-blurring barrage of headspins, windmills and attack flips intimidated and dominated the Step Fenz, Empire Crew (replete with three tough B-girls) and, in the semis, Connecticut�s Cypher Dezign.
The semifinals proved more intense for the champs, however, as tempers heated and the �no contact� rule was tested. The boogie-down borough�s own Soul Majestics crew pushed Ground Effects to the brink, led by veteran popper Bam Bam, whose moves sliced the opposition with scathing storytelling and impeccable body control. Brothers Macho and Bebo (who won the 2-on-2 Rock Steady Crew $1,000 contest two weeks ago) responded with upside down L-shaped freezes and harmonized, crowd-pleasing flair, barely squeaking their crew to a showdown with the mighty Brat Steady posse.
If and when a video of this epic 15-minute showdown ever surfaces I will be the first in line to nab it. For, like the �Thrilla in Manilla� or the �Rumble in the Jungle,� this heavyweight battle will require repeated viewing to believe. Each crew elicited each other�s best, each B-boy pushed to create some unfathomable response to what was just jaw-droppingly presented seconds before, the challenge of one-upmanship escalating so that I swore the roof would blow. Kamel of B.S.C. indicated the flourish to come when he elevated and floated like the namesake on his Jordan jersey, which he peeled off while in mid flip and tossed at his opponents� feet upon landing. One-on-one battle was often usurped by a full-on street battle royal, all B-boys busting at once, a blur of acrobatics and finger-wagging, a bevy of group choreography and indefatigable individual strength, causing audience and judges alike to scream and high-five. Fifteen minutes soon became 15 seconds, and in the end, after the crowd�s incessant roar eased and the judges tallied their scores, the Brat Steady Crew walked away with cash and trophies, while we walked away with a slice of history.

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