Rutgers breakdancing organization gives students platform to collaborate, improve
Every Monday and Friday night at 8 p.m., the Lion’s Lounge in the Rutgers Student Center transforms into a space for freestyle break dancing.
A collection of break dancers have found a home in the Bboy Student Organization of Rutgers, where they can gather to practice skills freely and receive advice from peers.
“We encourage a style where you’re able to work with anyone there and you work at your own pace but there’s always someone helping you,” said Daniel Paik, president of the organization and a School of Engineering junior.
Meetings consist of members dancing individually and comparing notes about moves.
“Most of our meetings ... we turn on the music and everyone does their own thing,” Paik said.
Members of the Bboy organization said they have seen extreme improvement in their dancing since joining the club.
“Outside of college I was dancing for maybe four years, and I have maybe tripled my progress in the three years I’ve spent here, that’s definitely the best aspect … We have very dedicated members,” Paik said.
Despite the experience of some veteran members, the club offers a support system to breakers of any style or ability level. No two people who come are the same, said Junomero Liberato, a School of Engineering sophomore.
“It’s a place of a bunch of people who will, more or less, accept how you are doing things … It’s important because you need a place to be yourself and do what you want to do,” Liberato said.
The organization offers workshops where members of the club teach the core fundamentals of break dancing to beginners, Paik said. Many beginners use this club as an opportunity to develop their break dancing skills with the help of peers.
“Because I am completely a beginner with break dancing and everything, a lot of them have been very, very nice with teaching me moves and saying ‘oh, you can improve that’ or with handstands, ‘this is what you can do to get stronger,'” said Paulina Lee, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore.
The confidence displayed by longstanding members of Bboy of Rutgers at meetings is enough to inspire newer members to be more confident when dancing in front of the group, Lee said.
The inclusive environment welcomes not only students of Rutgers, but also students and adults from around New Jersey interested in break dancing. Because Rutgers is a larger university with a diverse population, it is a big spot for people interested in the break dancing scene, Lee said.
The organization manages events and performances on campus where members have the opportunity to display the skills they have been cultivating at meetings. Although the club does not compete as a team for Rutgers University, members have the opportunity to compete individually or in small groups at jams, and competitions, on and off-campus, Paik said.
At break dancing competitions, competitors divide into crews, or small teams. Crews can be comprised of any number of people depending on the implications of the competition. These crews then rival other crews in dance battles, Paik said.
“We encourage all of our members to find their own crews, or find their own people they want to dance with, and to go and to compete within the scene,” Paik said.
The Bboy Student Organization of Rutgers has an upcoming event on April 1 called “Ruthless,” which will allow members and others to compete. This event is the largest break dancing competition in New Jersey, he said.
Paik said he hopes to expand the club in the future by connecting and collaborating with other dance organizations on campus.
“There’s a lot of dancing organizations at Rutgers, but we’re not very connected to all of them and they’re not really connected to other orgs. So the most intermingling we get would be like doing performances for the same event, but we never really work together. That’s something I’d like to improve on,” Paik said.
Mary Ellen Dowd is a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student majoring in Journalism and Media Studies. She is a contributing writer for The Daily Targum.