Hip Hop in Beijing: Condensed Observations

On the first day of our student organization fair in March, I immediately scouted the dance team in front of Zijing Cafeteria, took out my pen and registered my name for the hip hop, jazz, popping, and breaking interest lists. Since then, it’s become habit to leave Tuesday and Thursday afternoons open for hip hop practice led by a Master’s student whom we call Laowan.

This week, we will be practicing every day in preparation for a competition on Friday against a dozen or so other universities in Beijing.  I’m nervous to see how our end product will look like, especially since we are just now ordering costumes and shoes. However, Laowan and Mingjie, the jazz team leader, are so relaxed that there’s really no point in worrying.  A German student named Michael has choreographed two songs for our routine, and little did I know that I would contribute my own choreography as well. The jazz team was in search for a new dance, so I decided to pitch in and offer my routine to “Quickie.” It felt great being able to teach and see them grow, but it required three times the length of teaching the same routine to Urbanknowlogy 101 back at Mason. Their lack of experience is made up for in commitment and passion.  For the last three days, my teammates stayed focused and practiced the routine with minimal breaks, which they also used to ask for individual help.

I’m reserving my thoughts on the dancing at Tsinghua until after the competition. On another note, I finally had the opportunity to try a class at 舞佳舞, one of the most famous studios in Beijing known for their popping and founding of Keep On Dancing (KOD), an annual battle event held in Beijing. After taking Zaki’s hip hop freestyle class last night I felt more reassured that Beijing does actually have an established dance scene – I just have to travel for it. It’s a completely different atmosphere out in the professional studios. The age group is relatively similar, but the dancers’ styles, confidence, and movements blatanly show that they have experience and are serious about training.

There are so many things I haven’t touched on yet, but I wanted to jot down these thoughts while they’re fresh in my head. The last two months I only knew what the Tsinghua team knew about the hip hop scene in Beijing, which isn’t much. From my experience showing my routine this past weekend to the visit to 舞佳舞 yesterday, it’s as if I’ve hit a milestone of starting my research on hip hop again. The resources are limited compared to Taiwan, but I can definitely work with what I’ve found so far. Until next time, wish us luck on Friday!

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