As you walk into the lowly lit room, you can’t help but feel slightly suffocated by the damp and husky humidity of just over a hundred sweaty bodies dancing their insides out. I walk in with subtle but noticeable swagger confidently strutting in my new black and white Nike high tops, in skinny at the waist baggy at the ankles jeans, and group of like-minded people dressed in the same uniform. Stallarna has a bar, so it is reasonable to assume that over 75% percent of the club is drunk, or becoming drunk. Stallarna is two stories. The top story is reserved for nurturing gambling addictions at a poker table and also watching some occasional live music. The bottom story is all about dancing. People are dancing for many different reasons; the men seem to be dancing to attract the women, the women, often coyly guarded in their group of girlfriends, dance primarily for provocation. And then there’s us. The breakers. We dance for something different, we are performers. We dance for the admiration of the people who are stuck in their same old basic routine. We dance to create a space between the people that are forgotten the moment they are seen. But, mostly we dance because it is fun. Me, and a crew of eight other breakers, take space in the back right corner where it is least crowded. This is where we always go, and regardless of how late in the night it is, we always start off slow and goofy.
It begins as a laughing contest, we make a small circle and people will dance in any ridiculous way as long as someone gets a laugh. The circle will gradually widen as the momentum of the moment gains intensity. You will see the beginnings of our circle when someone decides to throw in a bit of their own stylistic toprock, and then someone else decides to follow. I look around and see people starting to take notice of us. People are attracted to our energy and expression. Something funny happens every time I have gone out with these guys. There’s always one guy who gets excited enough to jump into our circle and dance in whatever way he knows how. These moments are golden, because most people cant dance. But people feel safe because they can see that we don’t care, and dancing has never been about doing it perfectly, at least not in this culture. “Dance to express no to impress”. Anyways, we usually cheer the person on until they lose steam, or just decide to leave. However, the open invitation usually comes to a staggering halt when one of us decides to go for it. This can be signified by a few things: someone may dis someone else, and then everyone knows it’s “on” and real dancing is coming. Or someone might bust into a downrock or a freeze. But usually it is signified by a sharp change in energy, and energy that says, “its time to dance”. When this begins, people don’t come into the circle unless they have something to say. This part is more aggressive and more stylistic, harder, more in your face, and most people cant do much more than sit back and watch. Welcome to our natural habitat. I watch as each dancer takes up as much space in the circle as they can. I watch as one leaves and another enters, showing whatever moves they have. The circle is all volunteer, and how long someone decides to dance is dependent on their abilities or whether or not someone decides to come in and dance them out of the circle so they can get their shot. I look around and see people watching. I decide to enter.
I’ve been trying to think of a good metaphor for what it is like to enter into a circle. The best thing I can come up with is that it is like walking into a pool of adrenaline. The gods of breakdance hit you with the defibrillator paddles, and everything becomes clear. Pun intended. All the nerves you had before entering dissolve into the moment, and you become lucid. This is the spiritual aspect of dancing in general. Lucidity. We are born into a world that fills us with ideas, expectations, limits, rules, and because of this we are always thinking, and rarely existing in the eternal now. Wonderful is the feeling, breaking through the walls of yourself, only to find time a residual side affect of some guy who had a habit of thinking too much. By the time it is over, you don’t remember much of what had happened. Forgive the metaphor, but my first time entering a circle was like losing my virginity, your nervous as hell when it begins, and you don’t remember much when its over. Awesome.