We all know the likely matches – Brazilians are best at Samba, Latin Americans do salsa, and the Spanish are masters of Flamenco… But what about Hip Hop? Street dance, break dance, krumpin, jerkin…whatever you want to call it.
While the genre may have originated in the Bronx, it is a dance style that has appealed the world over to youth aged anywhere from 10 to early twenties. Black, white, mixed…It’s been the inspiration for white flies to learn how to dance – really dance.
And, it’s shaped an underground movement in countries you’d hardly expect.
I honestly thought the best dancers were African. They have rhythm – never before have I seen a single drum beat reverberate through bodies with such gut-felt force.
It’s their pure physical rhythm that makes them fabulous street dancers.
Then there are the Arabs.
There’s a whole underground movement of young Arab dancers who on weekends only wake after midnight to hit the clubs. They too have rhythm. For the stricter Arab countries, it doesn’t come as naturally. Rather it is a skill they learn by copying. And it is their rebellion against societal conformity.
So 1am cool dudes ditch their kandoras for Western clothes and take their positions at their favourite tables having called the club owner enroute. Vodka with Red Bull is their drink of choice because it’s hard to smell on your breath the next morning.
The dance style is much more fluid in more liberal Arab countries like Tunisia and Morrocco where drumbeats echo each weekend at weddings across the villages. Rhythm is in their blood, and the men can master the moves of a female belly dancer just fine. Hence, their street dance is more natural, fluid and with less technical structure.
But in Oman, it gets interesting because you have Arab mixed with East African and Indian. Indians have rhythm. Bollywood is a world sensation. The young Omanis can dance. So well in fact they rank pretty highly in Red Bull BC Ones most years. Society is less strict than their UAE neighbours and young guys sport trucker hats with kandoras on weekends, a signature hint that they have cool private lives – and street dance is a big part of that.
But can Asians dance? The answer is yes. Japan and Korea are regulars on the B-Boy arena. But perhaps their style is a bit more technical rather than rhythmic.
There is a recent emergence of dance crews in Asia who are now making their mark. And like their Arab counterparts, dance too is a form of rebellion – it’s one of the few ways they can truly freely express themselves.
But compared to their Arab, Indian and African counterparts they have a long way to go. Can rhythm be learned? Yes I think it can. But they could benefit from a few weeks with African and Arab dancers (with a good swig of vodka and red bull for wings) to get their hips moving, and to feel a drum beat run through their core like melted chocolate.
If you want to see some hot new talent emerging out of Cambodia, Polarix Dance Crew is definitely worth watching: https://youtu.be/TRH4ukEjQN0