the olympics

It first started with discussions about breakin’s place in the 2018 Summer Youth Olympics. Older heads in the scene said it was a complicated process, the World Dance Sports Federation would have to have a clear plan and a lot of paperwork to be able to accept it as a category that they represented. Breakin’ was included in the Youth Olympics, and further proposed by the 2024 Paris Olympic Games organising committee as an additional sport, alongside skateboarding, sport climbing, and surfing. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) announced yesterday, Tuesday 8th December 2020, that Breakin’ is confirmed as a sport in the 2024 programme.

Check out https://www.breakingforgold.com/ for info on upcoming events and competitors. 

The main and most discussed anxiety for any Head who’s been in this scene for a while, is that the culture will be misrepresented, poorly explained, or showcased to the masses with no cultural context. This is our job moving forward. We all have to let people know as this path unfolds onto what is quite literally, the world’s largest stage, the best way to represent us as a culture. This dance is called breakin’ or Bboyin’ not breakdance; it is part of a wider cultural movement including graffiti, DJing, beatboxing and MCing, and it can’t be divorced from the personality of the individual without losing its essence and what makes it special.

Another well fleshed out worry is that the music and judging systems will have to become standardised in order to formalise such a large and all encompassing competition. Heads will know that over the years, Bboy anthems have already been lost from big competitions due to international music rights, and the need to share content across online platforms such as Youtube, without getting censored or sued. Judging is also a hot topic – how does style and individual personality translate in a worldwide judging system, but how does it ever in any competition? Judging events has always set people off, from unconscious bias, to plain ignorance, differing opinions, to personal justification to the world and their B-mum post event from mid-battle scribbles; you will never please everyone. 

Concerns over corruption within the Olympics and partnering with big corporations aren’t new either. The scene has been vocal over culture vultures and people capitalising on the assets of breakin’ for many years. Energy drink sponsored super crews have been the talk of the town for a moment, but we have to check our hypocrisy. We buy petrol and diesel at the expense of the environment, fill our houses with plastic waste and eat factory farmed meat, all supporting capitalist systems that keep an imbalanced global status quo. Maybe we need to check our standards if they’re not aligned. As Poe One says, ‘we live on stolen land.’

The benefits for the scene could be big, a larger platform, better supported upper tier of competing professionals, more research into training, diet, injury prevention and so on. More money. But the down side is the reclassification in many people’s eyes, of dance to sport. The concern that arts organisations such as ourselves will be supported less by third sector public funding is a real one, and one that we will have to learn to navigate in the inevitable future of dance meets sport. 

Two other points to note, one good and one bad: The Olympic selection is making sure that there is an equal amount of male and female competitors, promoting gender equality across the event, in what is traditionally a chauvinistic, male dominated culture. The second point is that the Olympics are by nature Nationalistic, something that runs in antithesis to Hip Hop’s purpose of bringing people together and breaking down barriers. Nationalism can be a dangerous subject, especially in countries where it’s often hijacked by the far right and used as a vehicle for xenophobia and hate.

The message being broadcast by most futurists in the scene seems to be to ‘get with the programme, or get left behind.’ For everyone who is feeling left behind, I think it’s important to remember that change will always feel strange, and that this culture is robust enough to look after many camps and viewpoints. SIN Cru will always be a champion of the style, music, character, and culture that created the dance. Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop. 

6 thoughts on “the olympics

  1. Will breakers still be choreographing their own routines or will someone else come choreograph for them. In gymnastics they have a coach who normally creates / collaborates with them.
    Will there be rules for this etc ?

  2. Looking forward to what the future brings. The Olympics has the potential to bring opportunities to breakers everywhere.

  3. The Olympic offers another structure in which our community can choose to engage with. This has already altered how the next generation perseveres the culture. It’s interesting as some might develop within the scene valuing it more as a sport than an Artform.

  4. Let’s hope the culture is not lost and this opportunity will allow breakers around the world to share their what they love.

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