Here's another blog entry I wrote after I checked out a cool weekly hip-hop dancing event at The War Room. It made it more special knowing some of the dancers, but even if you didn't you'd have a lot of fun. The DJs arrange music in ways that make you go hmmmmm...
Last night I had the distinct pleasure of witnessing some of Seattle's most talented dancers from all genres. The setting was The War Room on Capitol Hill, a sparsely decorated club featuring the work of Obey founder Shepard Fairey. The anticipation was high for me because I've never been to a dance off and as I met up with counter-cohorts Grace and Bryce I had to calm myself down--telling myself I was cool enough to be in this club with these trendsetters. It wasn't long before I felt comfortable because there were dancers and revelers of all makes and models. Some were your traditional dancer fare and others were dressed like they were going to the ballet or even to church.
The sanctuary was a concrete dance floor with steps for pews. Onlookers gathered around a circle, some hung back in the seats surrounding the scene. Mostly at the beginning regular dancers were preparing themselves and warming up for friendly competition. I noticed no one was sporting attitudes especially when a few dancers took the floor who looked nothing like the part. There was this dancer who sported a baseball cap, pleated chinos, and a polo. You could call his look business casual with a dancer twist. It was extremely apparent that he lived and breathed the music and movement because every 3-4 minutes he'd enter the circle like he'd planned it all week long.
The event is held every Monday night sponsored by Soul City Seattle and featuring various dancers from different crews such as Fraggle Rock. Most notable for fashion was this dancer with a plaid blazer and button up vest underneath. He rocked wing tipped shoes and a hat to match. His style was whacky, but he felt the beat. Women represented huge, which was proved by a main bout between a female dancer representing Fraggle Rock and a male dancer representing (I'm not sure). The battles resemble Capoeira-esque moves. The quarter finals featured 5 rounds of dance challenge. Nothing was for show besides the dancing. Everyone had a good attitude and you could tell people were there for the experience and the music not necessarily the drinks. In fact I barely saw anyone with a drink in their hand, oh there were some for sure, but most of the dancers who wanted a piece of the circle were dedicated to the rhythm. A few people looked really high, but I couldn't know for sure. Probably the most striking thing was that some of these dancers you'd see around Seattle on the street and you'd never think they mixed moves on a cement floor.
As for me I hung back on the fringes of the dance felonies being committed and watched with my jaw on the floor at long intervals. I took the whole scene in a noticed how everyone seemed to be friends, but not necessarily knowing each other before last night. I think that each one there could identify with a dancer on the floor and that indentification led to introduction. My favorite dancer of the night was a tall, skinny white guy with some dickies shorts on, black shirt, and black baseball cap on. He rocked retro Air Maxes and despite his skyscraper frame he broke ground in front of captivated onlookers for his birthday celebration. He went 5-7 rounds challenging dancers from all ends of the room. I wouldn't say he was the stand out winner, but most importantly was that he was out there showcasing his skills to a cheering audience.
We arrived at 10:40 pm and left around 1:40 pm. It was a solid night at a solid club with a solid DJ. I wasn't expecting such a skill on the turntables. Most everyone considers themselves a "DJ", but few understand what that means. A DJ must understand the crowd and feel the energy from the varied mix out in front of their. Without intimate knowledge of music, rythm, pattern, structure, and BASS a DJ fails to meet the demands of their audience. Quite possible the greatest thing a DJ can do is catch their audience off guard; to make them ask, "Did I just hear that transition?" The best part of a DJ's set is realizing that each beat and transition is planned well in advance and comes together specifically for that event only. No two sets would be the same. Although a set is well planned it is also strangely improvised at precisely the right time where your desire to dance and the "perfect" beat collide to dissolve your inhibitions. A little movement of the shoulder, a twitch of the hip and before you know it you're in the circle.
I didn't enter the circle last night and probably never will, but I'm assured in knowing that even if I had I'd be warmly welcomed despite my size, color, fashion, or dance style. In the circle you're graded on how well you execute your steps, but also applauded for how well you "entertain" your audience. Entertainment can be cheap or expensive, but on Monday nights at The War Room it's worth every penny regardless the value placed on the experience.
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