Meet the full-time British breakdancers aiming for the Olympics2 min read
“I tell you, as I get older, the strain on the body is getting ridiculous,” Houston says.
Here’s why it is so relentless. Two participants hit the floor round by round, competing against each other to see who progresses. A specialist battle DJ then plays a tune. There is no preparation, no rehearsing of a routine, no working out moves to particular music. They have to go with the flow of whatever the DJ decides. Judging is based on execution, difficulty and creativity. Points are lost if the dancer does not keep in time to the rhythm of the tune the DJ is spinning. Points can also be forfeited for failure to maintain continuous eye contact with the opponent.
“Honestly, there’s that many things you have to keep in mind, your head is spinning by the end,” says Houston.
Contests last between 40 seconds and a minute of unremitting athletic endeavour. And in a day a breaker may, depending on how well they progress, compete in as many as a dozen dance-offs. This is more exhausting than running a marathon.
“You have your foundation moves that you can build a routine out of, but you have to go with the flow,” says Karam. “It’s a dance, you have to move to the music and feel it.”
But it is the competitiveness that drives these athletes.
“You go in there thinking you have an idea, but then the guy you’re up against pulls off something crazy and you have to respond,” he says. “That’s what’s make it so exciting.”
The excitement will only grow as the best breakers from this country enter an 18 month spell of competitions, beginning on July 1, which will determine if they qualify for Paris.
“To be honest, when I first started doing this I never dreamed it would be an Olympic sport,” says Houston. “But now it is, I just want to show the world what I can do.”
And what these British B-Boys and B-Girls can do is more than worth watching.