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Workin’ It


Chicago is home to one of the world’s quickest dance styles. Breakneck through the battle circles and blistering bpms of footworkin’.

The music thumps so loud your brain shakes itself into a headache, your teeth chatter, and your bones start to reverberate—that is, if you’re leaning against the wall.

Not so for Jamal Olivier, a long and lanky 20-year-old from Chicago. For Olivier, who also goes by the name Light Bulb, the auditory onslaught has all the impact of a light rain. It flows into his ears, down his arms and legs, and into his feet. And then his feet move—and boy, do they move.

Light Bulb scoots up and down an enclosed space of dancers and onlookers, also known as a battle circle. His feet kick up and down like something out of one of Sammy Davis Jr.’s Vegas acts. His tongue wags and sweat rolls down his face. Finally, Light Bulb stops in front of a smaller man dressed all in black—jeans, Iowa Hawkeyes shirt and Chicago Bulls cap—and dances right in front of him for a few seconds. His friends on the right side of the circle, the fellow members of his battle crew, Terra Squad, whoop and holler. A challenge has been issued.

The moment Light Bulb steps out of the circle, Brandon Love—a.k.a. Basik, a.k.a. the guy in the black—jumps in with the fervor of a Tasmanian devil. Basik zips across the floor, almost tiptoeing as he moves at an amazing speed before he jumps, crosses his legs mid-air, lands, drops, and touches the floor with his knees (one at a time) before popping back up, all in one continuous motion.

The crowd cheers at the move, a new creation of Basik’s that he calls “The Cat Daddy.” The onlookers nod and smile as they hold up their phones and cameras. This will be on YouTube soon enough. “That was fun,” Basik, 20, of Chicago, says of the move. But this is just the beginning. “It’s not crackin’ yet. [Light Bulb’s] holding back. I know I am.”

The night’s not about to end. It’s only 11 p.m. on a Sunday evening at Battle Zone. The 2-on-2 battles haven’t started up yet, not to mention the Mystery battles. This is the Sunday footworkin’ party, and it don’t stop till…

For the full story pick up the June Red Bulletin Magazine.

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