We don’t get a whole lot of oppurtunities to dance. Outside of jams and practice sessions we don’t have many options and we all know that’s simply not enough. Every now and then you’ll have to actually get out and be around non-b-boys at a club. Now you might just be going to hang out and they start playing some James Brown or maybe you went out with the intention of b-boying…but chances are, you will end up getting down at some point. However, I think there are some rules to abide by so that you and any other b-boy aren’t permanently banned from the club.
1. The Club Doesn’t Need You – This is really the first thing you need to understand. Some clubs might welcome b-boys and some might actively encourage their presence but the truth is they do not need you so don’t act like they do. In all honesty we can actually be a big nuisance; We take up a lot of space on the dancefloor, we don’t buy drinks (this is a major one, I’ll explain later), some of us have egos that won’t let us be anything but rude to non-b-boys and we’re the pickiest people on the planet when it comes to music. We’re just an overall hassle. Every other tip from here on is just an attempt to minimize that hassle.
2. Consider Your Space – If you happen to start a cypher, keep it manageable. You’re not at BC One. You don’t need 30 sq ft of space to dance. Learn to dance in a small cypher, this is b-boying 101. If you can’t control your shit in a small cypher, get out of the cypher. You’re on a floor with probably a hundred other people who want to dance too. There will certainly be some people who just want to watch but let them dictate the size of your cypher. Don’t start pushing people because you want to throw airflare combos. If you must get down, make your club nights the nights you work on your toprock or controlling you footwork in tight spaces.
3. Be Respectful – A majority of the people around you are just trying to have fun too. Occasionally someone might hop into a cypher and do whatever they’re going to do but 9 times out of 10, they just want to be a part of the fun. They’ll go out, dance, then head right back to the edge of the cypher. No need to get in their face and start trying to battle them. Let them get it out of their system and then you can have your turn. Treat your cypher more like a Soul Train line and less like Who Can Roast the Most and I promise it’ll be a better time for everyone. You will get the occasional asshole who is only there to fuck with you. In those cases, ignore them. Usually it comes from a place of jealousy, someone’s getting attention and they’re not (The classic “bro” is the absolute worst about this). You can do one of two things, let them egg you on and they get exactly what they want ending in a fight or one of you kicked out or ignore them. Do the same as above, let them go out, work it out of their system and move on. Or you just move the cypher. Even in smaller venues it doesn’t take much to just look at the other b-boys and move the cypher so he’s excluded. They usually give up pretty quickly once they see they can’t get a rise out of you. If that’s not the case, talk to a bouncer…oh you don’t know the bouncer?
4. Earn a Reputation with the Staff – Chances are, you have a favorite club to dance at. If that’s the case, make it a point to get to know the staff. Show up early when the lines are down and strike up a conversation with the doorman everytime you go. Start simple and talk about the weather or introduce yourself or something like that. Keep it up and you’ll have a friend sooner than you know it. Being in any type of service position sucks so any kind of hospitality is usually greatly appreciated and returned in kind.
Once you’re inside, ORDER A DRINK. Clubs make almost all their money off of drinks and dancers don’t drink. This is the main reason you don’t see a lot of b-boy/dancer oriented nights, they simply do not make money for the venue. It doesn’t even have to be alcoholic…get a red bull or a bottled water or a coke, anything. Just spend money. And this is a big one, TIP. At least a dollar per drink if your drink is under $5, $2 between $6 and $10 and minimum 20% once you hit the double digits. I typically tip bartenders way over that, especially if they’re good at what they do. Most are. Even though they’re not all taking 15 minutes to make you a craft cocktail they’re still dealing with a dozen people at a time and doing that is really hard. You should show some gratitude. You want the staff to know that when you or your people come in, you are an asset to the venue. You want them to want you to come. If the bar staff can see that when dancers are there, their tips are up for the night or better yet, if you’ve struck up a relationship and become a friend, then that’s one more person in your corner.
Don’t make requests to the DJ unless you know them personally. I hate requests and so does every other DJ. Even when you request something I like, I don’t like it. The DJ (if they’re good) already has a plan. They know what they’re playing now, they know what they’re playing next and they know what kind of vibe they want to build for the night. Let them do it and you adapt. If you don’t like the DJ at least somewhat, why are you there to begin with? If you do like them, trust them and let them do what they do. When their sets over or they’re taking a break, take the time to tell them you dug their set and do it every chance you get. All DJs play favorites. If they have friends in the crowd, they’ll play for them. Be their friend in the crowd. And if a DJ does play b-boy tracks for you just because he sees there are b-boys, definitely make it a point to thank them. They’re doing you a massive favor…not everyone likes “I Believe in Miracles” by the Jackson Sisters.
You’re not going to build any of these relationships over night. It takes time, patience, and more than that, hospitality and genuine interest in the people you’re talking to. It’s a bit of work on your part but consider what you’re getting out of it in the long run. You’re going to be a regular and that comes with perks…free entry and drinks every now and then, an in with the bouncers if there’s ever any trouble, possibly better music and most of all, you get new friends. The friendships alone can be worth a whole lot more than the occasional 25% tip or a couple shots for the doormen.
5. Go with the Intent to Have Fun – Don’t go to call anybody out, don’t go to practice, don’t go to pick a fight. Go to have fun. All that other stuff might happen (hopefully not the fight)…you might battle if you get called out or you might practice if it’s a slow night but your number one reason to go is to have fun. You’re at a club, not a battle. There’s no reason to get in your “super b-boy” mode and stand in a b-boy stance all night while you meanmug anyone who gets near you. Smile for chrissake.
6. Dance with a Girl – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an attractive girl dance for a bit in a cypher and someone throws “the D.” What are you doing? Do you realize this is the one time most b-boys even see other girls that aren’t their crewmate’s girlfriends? Even if you don’t want to dance with them, one of other b-boys there might. Don’t ruin it for everybody else.
7. Dress Well – This is more of a personal thing than hard and fast rule for everyone. I’m a stickler for b-boys dressing well. All that urban fashion/streetwear/hypebeast/sneaker head shit…we started that. B-boys were the first ones to really start making “street” clothes fresh. We have a tradition to uphold and I think all b-boys should hold themselves to the standard that the earlier generations set for us. Now you don’t have to show up in a tweed vest and double monk shoes or the best Jordans in your collection but you should at least make an attempt. Don’t show up in your practice gear. Now, if you can dance in Comme Des Garconnes, then by all means, go for it.
Hope that helps in your quest for decent place to go dance.
Remember, smile and have fun. That’s why we started dancing in the first place.