Last weekend, I attended the Red Bull Beat Battle, a dance competition that pitted 8 crews, representing a variety of styles from krumping, b-boying to pantsula. The event took place at the Blue Room which is next to Park Station and the setup was awesome, in particular the production, which incorporated a high stage – so everyone could see – big screens, flashing lights and DJ Switch above everyone else, dishing the perfect beats for the night. He played everyone from Brenda Fassie and Michael Jackson to the more contemporary rap pop.

The judges were Kabelo Mabalane (Bouga Luv), Somizi Mhlongo, Lorna Maseko and Vouks Nojokes. The structure of the competition was that each crew danced in the first round; in the second round, they went head to head with another crew, with the crowd deciding on which crew then received bonus points, which were added to the judges scores. In the semi-finals, the four crews who have the overall highest scores, battled each other.

The crews on the night were:

The dancing was great, especially with diversity in styles that reflected South Africa. I did, however, have some issue with some of the crews as well as the judging. The Pantsula crews went primarily with a harder pop/techno sound for the music which I felt didn’t fit and it looked like they were rushing all the time. Shakers & Movers was made up of two dancers and, while their first round was on point, their second round routine – which saw them come out in mini-skirts – failed to hit any mark. Royal Fam Kings can Krump hard but there were times it felt a bit rough around the edges, particularly with 8 dancers on stage. Genesis Kings’ first routine felt very individualistic but they flipped it in the second round, incorporating a couple of different styles in the routine. And their female dancer was the ish.

Image: Tyrone Bradley

Overall, each crew did bring some flavour so the above is merely a layperson’s observation. The final showdown was between Ubuntu and Artistic Intelligence. Artistic Intelligence had gone up against Soweto’s Finest (<-click to see one of their routines) in the semis and I feel the Soweto boys showed enough variety and creativity in their routine to go through to final but AI’s fans in the crowd disagreed and gave them the bonus points. The winners overall were Artistic Intelligence. Again, while I enjoyed their routine, I would have gone with Ubuntu, but all very subjective.




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