City Culture – B-boying, Connaught Place Subway
Hips and hops.
[Text and pictures by Mayank Austen Soofi]
Twisting the hip. Spinning on the floor. Standing on the head. Freezing into a pose. Legs leaping up. Suddenly, the entire body falling flat with a thud. “Yo, yo.” One late monsoon evening The Delhi Walla saw a gang of boys who were B-boying at the underground pedestrian subway in Connaught Place, Delhi’s Colonial-era commercial district.
Home to beggars and dope addicts, the subway connecting Wimpy’s to KFC was transformed into a setting straight out of New York, the metropolis where B-boying originated. A part of the hip-hop genre, it’s a street dance that evolved among the New York City’s Afro-American and Latino boys in the 1970s.
According to urbandictionary.com, the ‘b’ in the B-boy stands for ‘break’. Talking of its evolution, the dictionary says, “When there would be a ‘break’ in a song (no vocalization, only the rhythm), the dancers boogied to the music beat.”
Frenzied and vigorous, the smug B-boys twist and turn stylishly, with no rehearsed choreography. In Khirki Extension, south Delhi, the Tiny Drops hip hop centre, an organistaion that works with low-income communities, hosts B-boying every evening.
The centre describes itself as “a space for kids in the hood to practice, learn and innovate on hip hop dance & culture.” It claims to provide slum children a creative and social outlet through dance, music, and graffiti, the hip hop essentials. You too can go to the centre and be a B-boy, no fee involved. It is run by a US-returned social worker called Netarpal Singh, aka B-boy He Ra. He has organized B-boying sessions in different parts of the city, from a community park in RK Puram to the Central Park in Connaught Place.
The B-boys in the subway had practiced the moves in Mr Singh’s center. “I started it in 2010 after coming across a few children break dancing in Khirki village,” he told me over the phone. Adding that he hasn’t taught B-boying to Delhi’s slum children, he said, “They were already into it. Hip hop came to India in the 80s through Bollywood musician Bappi Lahiri. Today, kids learn it from films and music videos.”
The subway’s closure time was nearing. Two boys were doing a head-spin. One fell on his face. “Yo(!)” He tried again and executed the movement with a flourish. Then they all left.
Do B-boying in Tiny Drops Hip Hop Center in Khirki Extension, near Sai Baba Mandir Time 6.30 pm Nearest Metro Stations Saket Phone Phone 96509 15308
On the head
Up on the arms
On the floor
Look at me