Though there was a noted absence of rapping at this years Busan Hip Hop Festival, my initial shock slowly evolved into a welcome surprise when b-boy and girl dance crews from several different nations took the stage under bright lights.
What followed was a two-hour battle between dancers from Taiwan, Australia, Japan, China, and of course several groups from the ROK.
The dance crews at Monday’s beachside battle displayed various styles representing their own city or country’s brands of dancing. There were head spins, windmills, 2-steps and 6-steps, some routines more varied than others, but all of them colorful and incredible to watch.
Finalists included an all girl team from Osaka (one member of which was rumored to be a mom), team China, a Korean team known as the Legendary Uncles, and finally Busan’s own home team. Several of the top teams found themselves in tie breaker battles that went two and three rounds.
But in the end there can only be one winner, and that was Korea’s own Legendary Uncles. They brought both humor and attitude to the stage, with a knack for making the whole thing look like a lot of fun. It was clear from their relaxed stage presence and playful demeanor that this is what they love to do. Even when up against teams with more technical ability, the crowd always seemed to know who the winner was. Through their choreographed team dancing and on-stage confidence, they showed that its not all about who can perform the most difficult tricks, but rather who can really dance and entertain a crowd.
The Sea Side Festival’s one night contribution to hip hop was not merely an event for young people with sideways hats, as proven by the abundance of families and senior citizens who filled the audience chairs until 10 pm. People who came of age long before the hip hop movement hit Korea seemed enamored by the physics defying moves on stage, and many a graying head bobbed to the bass heavy beats.
Others were so inspired by the show that they felt like jumping on stage in red underpants… well actually it was only one man, who was successful in his endeavor, but in true inclusive fashion was never kicked out. Instead the kind operators offered him a personal security guard to ‘attend’ him for the remainder of the event.
Prizes for this year’s winners included cash to the top four teams, and bragging rights until next year. Another free, well delivered event offered by the city of Busan as part of this year’s 18th Busan Sea Festival. Events conclude Friday, August 9 with the Open Sea, Open Concert show, again at Haeundae.
Photos courtesy of Dynamic Busan media.