Last Sunday afternoon, folks strolling through Grand Park got a hearty helping of bass in their collective face, courtesy of the B-Boy B-Girl Summit Reborn. This free afternoon event, whose history stretches back to 1994, featured multiple luminaries from the LA hip-hop scene as well as an appearance from NYC-based “inventor of scratching” GrandWizzard Theodore.
I grew up in New Jersey, and vividly remember a school trip to NYC in the early eighties at which our bus had stopped next to a crew of breakdancers on the corner. We’d maybe caught a glimpse of this in videos, but had never really seen it up close and in person, and boy, were we transfixed. That two-minute traffic stop was an unforgettable moment, the thrill of music, dance and art all taking over your day unexpectedly, while just driving down the street. So to show up in the park and see a series of both veterans and younger dancers going up to do their thing on the summit stage while DJ Battlecat spun behind them, was both a throwback and fully up to date experience. (Photo gallery & more after the break,)
Rapper Medusa took over as Master of Ceremonies, introducing the dancers and cheering them on, freestyling and keeping the energy way up. Pop & Lock dancing goes back to the 70s in LA, and some of the crews represented have roots that go deep. Pop Tart’s mindblowing routine to Battlecat’s spinning showed the crowd why he gets singled out as a master of the form.
DJ The Gaslamp Killer brought out live drum & bass duo Drumetrics for part of his set, adding a layer of live musicianship to a DJ-centered show (this was evidently a replacement for the advertised Breakestra, who never made it). Dancers continued to take up the front of the stage, with Gaslamp Killer himself hitting the stage for a quick breakdance.
GrandWizzard Theodore is a representative of the REAL Old School, like, from the time before anybody heard scratching. He claims to have come up with it while pausing the record with his finger so his mom could yell at him, and going “Hmmm… interesting.” Makes sense to me. Thanks to him, and his agitated mom, the turntable has become one of the dominant instruments of modern music. I’ve seen DJs spin with the LA Philharmonic, with the kind of rock bands that would have worn “Disco Sucks” shirts ten years earlier, and form bands of nothing but DJs. That one innovation has really gone a long way! Theodore himself has kept his skills honed, and he delivered a rousing set that saw the stage invaded by the Ultimate Circle – a conglomerate of every breaker in the place, coming forward to freestyle all at once for several utterly insane minutes.
The former members of the Pharcyde Imani, FatLip and SlimKid3 have opted to alter their name in 2022 to the Far Side (Formerly Of The Pharcyde), in respect to member Bootie Brown who is not participating. As might be guessed, the set is heavy with classics from their Bizarre Ride: The Pharcyde, which they are touring in celebration of its 30th anniversary. They’re on their game, tight and together, and it’s a beautiful sight, families from all different parts of town, putting their hands in the air while some bona fide classics are happening live.
I hope this Summit gets to continue, it’s clearly a labor of love on behalf of its founders, and it’s about as pleasant of a day in the park as one could imagine.