By Joe Anuta
Many of the break dancers who gathered in Flushing Sunday have been honing their skills for more than 10 years, and although they were doing their best to show up the competition, the “Jam for Japan” was ultimately for a good cause.
The battle took place at the Flushing YMCA, at 138-46 Northern Blvd., and in the end raised more than $1,000 in cash from the participants and spectators to help the island nation after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami that washed away entire villages, crippled a nuclear power plant and claimed the lives of tens of thousands of people.
“We were all devastated about what happened to Japan,” said Lizette Martell, membership and marketing coordinator for the gym.
She and a co-worker decided to host the competition to raise money that will be sent to Japanese YMCAs, one of which was damaged in the natural disaster.
They wanted to host a jam — rather than, say, a cookie-baking competition — because they were certain it would draw a crowd. Queens is home to a huge community of “Bboys” and “Bgirls,” the preferred terms for practitioners of break dancing.
And many of those Bboys were happy to combine their passion with charity work.
“I feel good. That is one of the reasons I came,” said 20-year-old Anthony “Trix” of Astoria, who would only divulge his Bboy name. “This is my first time battling in New York in a long time.”
Trix, like many of the other young competitors, attends battles all over the tri-state area with his crew.And aside from the charitable overtone, this competition was as serious as any other.
A DJ blasted music out of two sets of huge speakers into the human ring formed by spectators who would yell after a particularly surprising move was showcased. At the end of each round, a panel of judges decided with a point of the finger which person or team advanced.
And in the end, Japan was not the only recipient of cash.
The winner of the one-on-one competition received $250 and the winners of the two-on-two competition received $400.
To get that money, competitors spun on their heads, whipped their legs in the air and employed fancy footwork on the ground. And each good run included a slight insult to the opposing team.
“They are trying to clown around, make fun of the other team and let everybody know that their moves are better,” Martell said.
And that is because there is no formal ranking system for Bboying. Each person might be judged during a competition, but respect is ultimately how young members of crews work their way up the ladder.
For many of the competitors, the Flushing Y was the first rung of that ladder, according to Martell. Francisco Diaz, Martell’s co-worker who also put together the competition, got his start at the Y.
But on Sunday, his job was to make sure the competition ran smoothly and that the Bboy and Bgirl community did their part to send help halfway across the world.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4566.