While often missed as a growing sports movement, urban dance is one area of the underground economy that’s inspiring not only new ways of living, but music, fashion, and style. In many ways, a worsening economy spawns aspects of creativity, especially in urban areas as seen over the course of history with the birth of punk rock, grunge, and hip-hop. Correspondingly, and now increasingly, so too have the dance movements surrounding such cultures, including the growing crossover movements coming from DJ culture, voguing, B-girls, and the very Parisian Tecktonik.
While Tecktonik has been around for the last 2 years starting at various rave-inspired dance clubs in the Chatelet areas of Paris, the fashion styles (and dance moves) are now moving heavily into the United States and Canada, particularly among a younger demographic of 13-19-year-olds. Tecktonik in many ways is the next evolution of Nu-Rave out of the UK, taking the ’90’s fascination that’s been hitting the streets for the past couple of years to the next level by mixing it with today’s concepts of R&B, DJ, and hip-hop influences. Tecktonik combines voguing moves inspired from Madonna’s “Vogue” mixed with style beats from various DJ’s that provide an edgy sound to moves that involve criss-crossing arms and legs–quickly creating specific choreography that has angles to it. The dance is called Tecktonik as a reference to the tectonic plates in the earth that shift during earthquakes and which also symbolizes today’s mash-up generation of a collision of moves, cultures, and music.
An offshoot to this is voguing, especially the kind seen in coveted alleys in the back streets of New York City. Some say it started from an underground gay dance movement and inspired originally from Madonna’s “Vogue”. Often voguing dance dens do include a variety of crossdressers. But no longer is this movement just for the territory of transsexuals. The fashion styles have already clearly influenced many musicians such as Devendra Banhart and a variety of 90’s inspired street fashionistas.
Interestingly, those who follow Tecktonik, such as clubbers who visit the Metropolis in Rungis outside of Paris, or in New York’s burgeoning Brooklyn scene, and hot clubs particularly underage, in LA, also tend to wear their hair in angled patterns matched with specific clothing. Hairstyles influenced from Tecktonik include shaved sides or patterns on the sides with high volume hair on top like an overgrown flat-top. Jackets that resemble a new-school Member’s Only style in colorful nylon also tend to be part of the look, and among girls, metallic tights (or stovepipe jeans) and wide belts with over-sized T-shirts or tank tops -usually colorful and with stripes.
Photo by We*BGirlz
Other movements such as the re-emergence of the B-boy scene, especially among the top crews from South Korea such as the Drifterz, Rivers, and Gamblez crews are clearly catching on thanks to the popularity of YouTube, MySpace, and Facebook where followers show their moves and discuss in detail the aspects of dance and fashion. Events such as the R-16 World Finals in Korea in 2008 was all about showcasing the best crews around the world -including an unexpected force from Russia’s Top Nine crew and a team from Israel.
To step back a little, when Benson Lee’s documentary “Planet B-Boy” came out in 2007, it pushed the B-boy scene to altogether new levels, including the growing subculture of women b-girlz. The amazing book WeB*Girlz, by Nika Kramer and photographer Martha Cooper, first captured the b-girlz scene in 2005, but with new media pumping the viral scene and the documentary Planet B-Boy, the We*BGirlz started their own event series, including a massive 4-week long festival in Berlin, Germany in 2008. The festival not only includes battles, but workshops, panel discussions, a film festival, and networking opportunities for girls in the scene. It’s also helped create new heroines such as B Bubbles out of the UK thanks to their popular site and YouTube battle clips.
Styles from the B-scene, voguing, Tecktonik, and even the urban freerunning scene of Parkour, have made a tremendous impact on youth culture fashion, footwear, and accessories, especially as related to sportstyle. Brands such as Adidas, Kangol, 7th Letter, Stussy, and even Nokia have stepped in as sponsors and supporters of the various dance lifestyle apparel and underground events series. However, the market is still quite open if you consider the vast potential and international reach of the movement, including the crossover potential with music. Despite getting more press in Europe and Korea, and even Israel and Russia, urban dance still tends to get limited media attention in the United States, except of course on YouTube.