Old School: Afrika Bambaataa
It was a stifling hot Thursday evening and you could feel the dew sticking to your skin as over a hundred people crammed Roxy Blu to catch a glimpse of the legendary Afrika Bambaataa. With such a troubled expression and concentrated intensity, it was refreshing to hear that his mixing was flawless and his track selection was explosive.
I could've cried tears of Breaker happiness when he busted out old school flavour, spinning Curtis Blow's "The Breaks", a tune from Beat Street, Les Rythmes' "Music Makes You Lose Control" and many other favourites. Suddenly dancers were transported back in time when the tracks changed by the minute and breakdowns were coveted and utilized to their full potential. Forget feeling bored or waiting for buildups to pay off. The jerky juxtaposition of entirely new beats and vocal loops kept listeners on an audio rollercoaster ride. The bass was jacked up so fervently that the speakers almost couldn't handle the power.
There also seemed to be an emphasis on blending the old with the new, incorporating everything from Missy Elliot's "Milkshake" to The Supremes "Where Did Our Love Go", Salt N Peppa to The Monster Mash (I am NOT kidding)! I remember feeling that although I couldn't dance to some of these madcap mashups, I appreciated the linear linkage of old dance and new dance, which helps befuddled listeners trace their music selection origins. A lot of times I find myself wondering where my enjoyment from techno really comes from and I liked the way Afrika Bambaataa presented a sort of conclusion for me. Hel-lo, we ARE children of the 80s, whether we were born there or just passed through. This cannot be denied. Yes, admittedly I used to make up dancesteps to Janet Jackson songs as a child. I felt far removed from those days, but many other people had no shame in blending their new dancesteps and electronica enthusiasm with old tunes like "Super Freak".
Breakers battled in the center of the dancefloor and showed some really promising talent, as if they had been hiding in the shadows just waiting for such an event worthy of competition. Just like in "Beat Street" or "Breakin", these dancers faked punches and dodged imaginary hits all in good fun, to the laughter and cajoling of spectators. Had I seen one of the best dancers just casually walking down the street, I may have mistaken him for a squeegee kid; I love surprises like that!
The MC got people pumped and waving their arms in the air at all the key moments. The crowd was ripe, the old school timebomb was dropped, and the fan kept us from overheating. The renegades of funk were well received at Roxy and that hour of music was an undeniably much-needed soul feast.
Photo provided courtesy of www.musicmatic.de/ B/Bambaat7.htm
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