Wookie Jam

Floorwookies’ 7th birthday
Last Saturday, Calgary breakdance group the Floorwookies celebrated their seventh birthday at the University of Calgary, with crews coming in from Winnipeg, Edmonton, Medicine Hat and Saskatchewan.

We provided audio/visual.

There were two subs, two speakers-on-sticks and a monitor for the two DJs tying into the system. Each used a CDJ, with stereo sound through two different channels. Even with two MCs, we still only needed six channels for this set up.

We also set up three Par 56 lights with a Par 38 tacked on four separate lighting trees – intending to either limit or dramatize shadows from each corner of the floor.

A Brief History
Dandee Eustaquio is promoter for Floorwookies crew, Ontologic and the youth-oriented Old-to-the-New breakdance event. Though of a different crew, Dandee shares the competitions’ responsibilities with his business partner Kotaro Kajita (O’ Mighty crew).

(Dandee – a Calgary breakdance scene organizer and MC.)

We appreciate Dandee stepping away momentarily for a brief interview between his Canada Day family obligations – babysitting his cousin’s twins.

Floorwookies started when Dandee and a group of his friends organized a few dance nights at Heritage YMCA. The crew would refer to the closed venue posthumously as the “birthplace of the Floorwookies”.

After growing to a consistent crowd of dancers, the crew entered a battle in 2006 – before ever even considering a name. Someone suggested they go as, “Oh, I don’t know… The Floorwookies!”

Not thinking they’d last longer than year, they laughed and took the name to heart – later applying deeper philosophical and ideological meaning.

Bob Veruela, or B-Boy Boobjester is a 33-year-old breakdancing judge (Dangerous Goods) from Winnipeg, MB. Considering his nearly 20 years as a b-boy, Bob says breakdancing provides empowerment in expression and strengthening your sense of self.

B-Boy Bushido
Aside from its usual rap, there’s a different side of breakdance culture – like politics, etiquette and generative discipline.

Bob and Dandee says travelling to support other crews is one of the most important aspects of the scene.

Bob says, “You earn your stripes, you know what I’m sayin’? There’s a lot of respect earned, and a lot of family created. Not just within your community, but within your travelling.”

“It’s really big in the world – but small at the same time, y’know. It’s still underground.”

This is especially important, as Dandee and Bob agree the alternative for many of the breakdancers is often to join gangs, sell drugs and steal.

One dancer was living with a tumor, and used breakdancing as therapy for their treatment. Dandee says the dancer is even more committed and appreciative of the scene after their conditions improved.

Bob and I also discussed the fine line between keeping burns classy versus corny. He says these full-body disses require tact and style.

He says, “It’s easy to give someone the middle finger. You have to be more creative than that. The burns are a whole ‘nother level of dance that a lot of people don’t understand as a part of breaking. It’s a very old-school way, because it goes past the moves into disrespecting them as a person.”

While it seems like the scene is an international family, Dandee discusses a handful of many conflicts – such as move theft.

“This discussion has been going on for years…. Everybody has their different opinions on it.”

Moves have a lot to do with personal identity – and there are breakdance battles that even settle ownership of moves. A lot of b-boys are known for the tricks they can do. Dandee suggests human behavior – and lately, the Internet – as the real cause for move theft.

“People would travel to other cities, and they would see someone do a move and they would fight for it,” Dandee explains.

“You would never see that kind of move anywhere else, and you would it know it was that guy’s move. But now that there’s Youtube generation, they’re so spoiled with seeing all these moves online. They’d think about it and want to try that move or they would watch it, and subconsciously they’d copy that move later that week.”

“It’s harder. Creativity is crazy now. Back then, it was about originality,” Dandee says.

While laughing, Bob says, “The allure is the crazy amazing moves. Girls love that stuff, you know what I’m saying?”

The Next Generation of Breakdance
Noticing few competitions, Dandee also pioneered Old-to-the-New, an 18-and-under breakdance competition. The idea is that the younger crew can feel more at home without the intimdation from the older and more experienced dancers.

“Our crew is pretty much the next generation to carry on the scene in Calgary,” Dandee says modestly. “Not that we grew up – we just earned that respect.”

Though this isn’t strictly a young person’s game.

Bob says one of his crewmates, Candace from Dangerous Goods, started when she was 25. She’s now 34, and still embodies the culture’s youthful mischief.

He says the maturity of Calgary’s scene depends on connections, competitions, responsibilities and friendships – as well as an understanding of the histories.

It is, after all, culture.