“I thought it was a rumour,” says the 22-year-old B-Boyer Sayem Shaikh, when asked for his reaction to news that the international B-boying competition, R16, will take place in the city on Sunday.
Bboys and Bgirls from around the country will be in the city to participate in the event, thanks to the efforts of B-boy enthusiast Paritosh Parmar and his friends Keith Dias, Jitesh Jaggi, Farhan Khan, Kapil Lathurm and Siddharth Chaudhary.
“R16 is one of the biggest Bboying battles in the world. It is a government-sponsored event in Korea,” says Parmar, who was keen to bring the competition to India after seeing videos on the competition.
“I wrote to the organisers, sent them videos of the scene here and asked for their permission to hold the competition,” shares the 24-year-old, who had to wait a year for his dream to materialise. “I wanted it last year, but they asked me to wait a year. I got my license in January of this year,” adds Parmar.
With permissions in place, Parmar and team got busy trying to rope in sponsors and spreading word about the event. “We have around 60 participants. We’re expecting around a 100 at the time of the competition,” he says.
Parmar, who organises B-Boying competitions, every year, says, “It started out as a small friendly battle between crews.” But an increase in interest translated to an increase in the number of participants, which in turn meant larger crowds. “Last year we had around 700 people in the audience,” says Parmar referring to the national-level B-Boy competitions, now known as The Culture.
With B-Boying experts from Korea, Taiwan and Nepal coming down to judge the event and a grand prize that includes a trip to Taiwan for the South-east Asian finals, Parmar hopes to pull in a larger audience.
According to Shaikh, who is known as Bboy Majin in the world of the street-style dance, once referred to as breakdancing, says, “I think the B-Boying scene in the country has changed over the last two to three years. When I started out in 2006, there was barely any awareness, but things are different today.”
“I am participating to encourage others to participate,” says Shaikh, who is part of the Indian B-Boying Federation and has been practicing for up to four hours on weekdays and up to eight hours on weekends.
Fifteen-year-old Kannan Kakkara, who has also been practicing rigorously for the competition, says, “I was thrilled when I heard the competition is happening in India. It’s such a rare chance.”
Tejasvi Patil, who calls herself B-Girl Phoenix, is one of the few girls participating in the event, and though looking forward to it, is unsure of being able to make a career in dance. “Though I would like to dance all my life, I am not sure how it would be possible.”
What is R16?
R16 is the annual international B-boy tournament held in Korea. R stands for ‘Respect’, while the ‘16’ refers to the number of B-Boy crews from different countries. Crews compete in a two-day tournament for the world championship title. The tournament was first held in 2007 in Seoul and is seen as being a celebration of youth culture.