There’s a certain stereotype for the b-boy. He’s between 17 and 30. He doesn’t have a steady job. Rarely has any money. No car. No girlfriend. No real future. We’ve come to accept this as the norm and we even celebrate it. We call it living the b-boy life and pride ourselves more on how many jams we’ve been to or won than how much we have saved up in our bank accounts or how successful we are at our careers. Let me be the first to say fuck that.
I’ve lived the b-boy life. It was called college. I worked a shitty job and stayed there way longer than I should have only because it was easy to take days off to travel for jams and practice. I scraped by paycheck to paycheck. Being broke kept me from being able to take any extra days off to pursue internships that could have led to a real career and it kept me from making any meaningful savings. Long story short, I fucked up.
I have plenty of friends living the “b-boy life” right now. I love pretty much all of them like family but I don’t want them to fall in the same post-college rut I fell into or end up even worse. Don’t take offense to any of this if it applies, I’m trying to help. I despise the stereotype. The one I described above is the stereotype we know. This is the one we’ve applied to ourselves. Imagine what an outsider thinks of a b-boy? For me, this is unacceptable. I’m 100% for the evolution of the dance and the culture but I’m not onboard for doing that at the cost of b-boys being responsible adults.
I’m going to try and give some tips and advice on getting out of that life without actually getting out of it. I promise you it’s entirely possible to have a career, a girlfriend, a car, and enough money that you don’t worry about where your next meal is coming from while still making it to the jams you want to go to and staying at the top of your game.
Get an Education – I don’t necessarily mean college. For most fields, especially anything artistic, it’s overrated. If you don’t want to go the college route, then find internships or a mentor that can help you down your career path. Oh yeah, figure out a career path. Forget that you’re a b-boy for a second and don’t imagine that you’ll be the next Roxrite. Even if you do get to that point, one bad injury and your career is pretty much over. You’ll need a backup plan. Figure out what you would want to do with your life. Try to pick something you’ll enjoy, it’ll make it that much easier to stick to it and b-boying at the same time.
If You Choose College, Use It – If you’re in college, actually take advantage of it. Use the resources to get internships and network as much as you possibly can. Make friends with whoever is going into the field you want to go into. Easiest way to be successful is to attach yourself to successful people. Now’s your chance to meet those people and get in on the ground floor. Besides that, your college probably has an amazing rec center that you’re letting go to waste. You’ve got time between class, go train.
Learn to be Financially Responsible – I could spend hours trying to explain this. Go get this book: Dave Ramsey’s Total Money Makeover (full disclosure, if you click that link and buy it, I get money…Amazon Associates…look it up. Consider that lesson free) It sounds gimmicky but I borrowed it from my sister a few years ago and it actually helped a lot. I’ll give a basic rundown:
- Keep a budget and stick to it
- Get an Emergency Fund that is at least $1000
- Pay Off All Debts
- Keep putting into the Emergency Fund till it’s 3-6 months of expenses (rent, food, gas, etc)
- Invest in retirement
Of course the book goes into much greater detail about how to do all that but those are the basics. Some googling should help you figure out most of those steps without buying the book. For a budget, just cut out or cut back on the unnecessary…shoes, clothes, weed, whatever, you can afford to cut back on those, I promise. It won’t kill you. The biggest thing though is the emergency fund. I can’t tell you how much weight is lifted off your shoulders when you know that you have a backup plan. Once you have it DON’T TOUCH IT. Put it in a different bank from the one you regularly use, don’t get a debit card for it…use checks. Make it a massive pain in the ass to get to so you can be sure you only use it for emergencies.
If you really wanna be a great dancer, try dancing because you love it. Not because you need to eat. There’s one step you’re going to have to take before this one though.
Get a Job – Fuck that, get two jobs. If you don’t have an emergency fund or a car, you need the two jobs. You only need $1000 for the Emergency fund and you can get a shitty car for around that too. You don’t need a Maybach, you just need to get from point A to the better jobs that are at point B. If you work two jobs for a month or two and manage your money you should easily be able to get a couple thousand to get those savings and a car. Yeah, you’re probably gonna miss a month or two of jams or extra practices but this is your life. Weigh the pros and cons. Two months isn’t going to kill you. If you had a major injury you’d be taking way more time than that and you could still come back to where you were at before.
Manage Your Time – You need to decide what’s important and divy up your time. Follow J. Cole’s advice;
They say time is money, but really it’s not
If we ever go broke girl, then time is all we got
And you can’t make that back, no, you can’t make that back
You really can’t make time back. If I look back at a lot of the shit I’ve done over the years, there were way too many hours put into video games and sitting in my house doing literally nothing (like literally…sitting in a chair and just staring). I love video games but if you’ve got a ton of hours logged onto any game, you’ve got no real right to complain about a lack of money or time. Any of that time could be spent training, working or doing both and getting paid to dance. If you’re serious about b-boying, then you make time. Every training session doesn’t have to be 4 hours long. If you come to practice with a plan you can get more done in a serious 30 minutes to an hour a day then you could in 3 4-hour sessions where most of the time you’re just dicking around. Keeping that in mind you could work a full-time job or go to school, train, and still have the time (and money) to take a girl out.
If You Want to be a Professional Dancer, Act Like a Professional – If your ultimate goal is to make money as a professional b-boy, you need to understand how hard that is and make sure you’re going the right route. Honestly, winning battles isn’t the right route. It can get you clout in the b-boy community but it will take years (unless you’re a prodigy) to get to the level of a BC One All Star or something like that and you’ll still have to work a day job when you’re home. Unless you’re under the age of 18 at your parent’s house, you probably don’t have the luxury of time to train like they do. Your real option to make money off of dancing is to get to a studio. Forget whatever problems you have with choreo, you’re going to have to learn it. Take Hip-hop classes, Jazz, Tap, whatever you can. Make connections at the studio, get with a talent agency. That’s what it takes to get paying work. If it’s what you want, you’ll have to be serious about it and dedicated. Being a professional dancer is a constant hustle and if you’re not willing to do that, pick a different career.
Own a Suit – This is just something everyone should do. You never know when you’ll need it. Biggest & Baddest isn’t appropriate for every situation.
Respond to Your Business Emails (or Facebook Messages) and Update Your Twitter Less (courtesy of Daniel from Strife.tv) – Staying in touch is a pretty important aspect of life in general but when it has to do with money and oppurtunity, it’s even more important. As great as Twitter is for letting me know how your partying is going or giving me a chance to figure out who you’re passive-aggressively insulting, it’s not so great for doing business. For that you’ll still need to use your e-mail. If e-mail is just too old school for you then you have to treat your facebook like a business tool. When you see you have a message, actually check it. There’s always a chance it’s a job offer. I honestly do almost 100% of my business…booking events, working out rates, figuring out travel plans…all through facebook. My status update and my wall is for joking around with friends and posting videos of bands I like but my private inbox is all business…if you know what I mean.
You should know what I mean, I just explained it.
In closing, twitter less and pay a little more attention to the stuff that can get you work.
Choose Your Battles – I already wrote a whole post about this here but I’ll reiterate. It’s a fallacy that you need to be at every single jam to get your name out there. You don’t, especially in the age of the internet. If you want a name, train harder. Use those weekends when you pass on a jam to get in extra sessions. What good is it being at every single jam if you’re wack at all of them? Remember that Kamel and Megus were legends before they ever left their city and they didn’t even have a Youtube account.
When You Have the Money: Health Insurance – If you don’t have the money, get it. You will get injured at some point. I hate to say it, but I’m just looking at the odds here. I don’t know a single b-boy who hasn’t had at least one injury that didn’t need a doctor’s visit. Whether they went to that doctor is debateable but they definitely should have. If you’re trying to be a professional dancer, think of every injury and sickness as someone taking money out of your pocket. You need to get back in the game as soon as possible or better yet, never get taken out because you had proper preventative care. If you think about $80 a month for health insurance is a lot, look up the cost of anthroscopic knee surgery. Or how about you turn down the next three jobs you’re offered. It’s not looking so bad now is it?
If it sounds like I’m being harsh and taking this a bit serious, good. This isn’t a joke. Sure we make it a joke when we’re in each other’s company. We joke about how someone always needs a ride or brag about the job that lets us take weekends off but pay attention to your facebook feed sometime. How often will something come up about a fundraiser jam to help pay a b-boy’s (or DJ’s or Graffiti Artist’s) medical bills or when an OG passes, his funeral bills? That shit isn’t funny. Entire families are affected by that type of thing. For the sake of our community and future, don’t let it happen to you and be responsible.
Besides, when you have more money, you can afford better kicks too.