Sixteen b-boys from around the world rocked Yoyogi Stadium in the heart of Tokyo on Saturday night with precise body control and artistic flair. The breathtaking show culminated with Brazilian power mover Neguin from the Tsunami All Stars crew being named ‘The One’ – Red Bull BC One 2010 Champion.
The b-boys had to convince five judges - among them two-time champion Lilou, the legendary Ken Swift, and Red Bull BC One veteran Roxrite. The dancers brought their A-game and many battles were very tight, making it a tough night on the judges, who had the arduous task of deciphering the complexities of each performance. After qualifying battles in Biel, Berlin, Sao Paulo, Capetown, Paris and New York, the level of competition reached an all-time high in Red Bull BC One’s seventh edition in Tokyo.
A round stage formed the center of the pulsating grandstand. The final 1-on-1 battle of the night came down to Brazil’s Neguin vs. “The Flying Dutchman” Just Do It (pictured at top). Both had wowed the crowd and won over the judges with the intensity and style they displayed throughout the night's bracketed battles.
In that final round, Neguin’s advanced technicality and awe-inspiring performance earned him the title of Red Bull BC One champion. The Brazilian “Ginga,” that mystical quality of movement and attitude that made Brazilian soccer players world-famous, worked its magic for him. He got four of the five judges’ votes and had the crowd on its feet with excitement.
The stage was filled with talented dancers from around the world and every battle had its own storyline and dramatic peaks. For the Americans, it was a little bittersweet.
“I didn’t expect to go out in the first round,” said Thesis. “1-on-1 battles are a lot harder. It’s a lot more about strategy. You’re not gonna dance how you want to dance all the time.”
New York b-boy Gravity of the Dynamic Rockers was overcome by Venezuela’s Lil G after a fierce battle in the first round. The third American, Luigi, battled his way to the semifinals, where he was matched with Just Do It from The Netherlands. It was arguably one of the tightest battles of the night. In the end Luigi had to give way; without any hard feelings, he commented, “I am super happy to be here. The crowd was great!”
Japan has a lively Hip Hop scene with its epicenter in the capital of Tokyo, home to 30 million people. Between temples and gambling halls, skyscrapers and karaoke bars, geishas and sumo wrestlers, this year’s Red Bull BC One ranks as an event unmatched. As crew competitions have grown more popular over the last decade, this competition goes back to the roots of 1-on-1 battles showcasing individual performance.
Red Bull BC One Tokyo was a historical happening for hip hop culture, as it combined its foundational figures and roots with some of the hottest acts of today. In 1983, director Charlie Ahearn brought the film and cast of Wild Style to Japan, which marked the birth of the Japanese Hip Hop scene. Last night Ahern returned to Tokyo to attend Red Bull BC One and witness the evolution of the scene. Ken Swift, a teenage star of the film back then and a member of the world famous Rock Steady Crew, sat on the Red Bull BC One judging panel in Tokyo.
Human Beatbox Rahzel served as emcee for the night, guiding the crowd through an audio and visual showcase. More than 3,000 people got up from their seats when New York rap-legend Big Daddy Kane started rhyming to Japan’s DJ Mar’s beats. The vibe reached a climax as all 16 competing B-Boys entered the stage to pay their respects to their audience with a freestyle session.
“The Japanese fans were inspiring,” Neguin emphasized after his victory. Holding his trophy and hugging his final opponent, Neguin shouted “We are all winners. We dance for life!”