Breakdancers Eye the Olympics at This Weekend's Furious Styles Crew Hip-Hop Jam

A breaking competition at Trill in April.
A breaking competition at Trill in April. Mike Madriaga
In case you hadn't heard, breakdancing is heading to the Olympics for the first time at the 2024 Summer Games in Paris.

You've got less than two years to familiarize yourself with the sport, but checking out the Furious 29 hip-hop jam happening this weekend is a good start.

At the two-day event, dancers of all sorts — breakers; poppers; street, club, and choreography dancers; and a variety of groovers — will battle one another in solo breaking, three-on-three freestyle, or footwork-only contests. Live graffiti art presentations and MCing will tie the hip-hop jam together.

The event kicks off at Trill, Phoenix New Times' 2022 Best Hip-Hop Shop, on Saturday, November 12, then on Sunday, November 13, it moves to the corner of Sixth Street and Mill Avenue in Tempe, where the streets will be blocked off for the event.

Furious 29 is hosted by the Furious Styles Crew, a local dance crew currently celebrating their 29th anniversary (hence the name).

On Saturday, there's a three-on-three freestyle battle in which the winning trio will take home $600.

Jorge "House" Magana, one of the Furious Styles Crew founders, says, "In our freestyle dance competition, you don't have to dance a specific form. ... 'It's open to any kind of movements, but it's going to be danced to hip-hop and club music."

The other dance competition on Saturday is a one-on-one breaking battle where the winner gets a $500 cash prize, and a free flight and hotel room for the USA Breakin' nationals in Miami. A strictly footwork competition will be held on Sunday at the Tempe location; the winner gets $250.

While you might think breaking is solely a high-speed and spinning dance form turned Olympic sport, other elements are involved in impressing the judges at the upcoming one-on-one breakdancing battles on Saturday.

"Hip hop is never robotic," Flo Master, one of this weekend's judges, said in a New Times interview in April. "So, in breaking, you got to have a little sloppy and not that sloppy as you are crashing into yourself — just that rawness."

Flo Master hails from Los Angeles; he's done choreography with Usher, danced and worked with Justin Timberlake, and appeared in the 2004 film You Got Served dance-and-drama flick.

He's also part of Breaking for Gold USA, a subsidiary of the nonprofit organization USA Dance Inc, where he's coaching Olympic hopefuls.

"So, to be one of the coaches for Team USA, I have to make sure that the b-boys and b-girls we are coaching have that top rock and their footwork [down]," he says.

Long before anyone ever thought breaking would be in the Olympics, Magana was growing up in Chicago and honing his craft.

"We were battling [in breaking] every day at school. We were Fresh Breakers Inc. back then," he recalls. "One Friday, we were solid, then we came back to school on Monday."

Magana relocated to Phoenix in 1990, and his younger brother, Odin "Odin Rock" Magana, followed. Here in Phoenix, the Magana siblings connected with Mike and Adam Cruz and John and Mike Rincon, as they were graffiti artists. "And everyone could still do the windmill," older Magana says. Then in 1993, the three pairs of brothers formed the Furious Styles Crew in Phoenix. Throughout the years, they expanded worldwide to Spain and Copenhagen, Denmark.

Furious Styles Crew (FSC) membership includes artists from different walks of life and styles within and outside hip-hop culture. FSC has continuously had a hip-hop event since they went live in 1993, being the most extended still-running hip-hop jam on record. Through dance movement, visual arts, and music produced by MCs and DJs — some of whom are traveling to compete — FSC prides itself in educating and sharing its lifestyle worldwide.

On November 12 and 13, they'll pass the hip-hop torch to the next generation. "I invite people to come out to these hip-hop jams and see and feel the potential this has," Magana says. "It crosses all barriers, borders, and languages for everybody of all ages."

FSC 29. 2 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, November 12, at Trill, 1817 East Indian School Road. Cost is $25. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Sixth Street and Mill Avenue, Tempe. Free admission.
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