So the dust has settled on Outbreak 2016. The stage has been taken down, the floor has been pulled up, the hotel rooms vacated, the decks packed away. I don't know about you, but after finally getting home and having my first long night's sleep in 5 days, I woke up in a haze, the memories and moments of the event still swirling around my head like a hip hop hang over. I needed time to let the energy settle, to take it all in, and let my soul finish expanding from the energy Outbreak had once again given me. The sharing, exchanges, craziness, love, music, dancing, drinking, no sleep, parties, breaking, cyphers, basketball in the hot sun, nights that blurred into days and back into nights... That vibe, that vibe, that vibe, pulsating in the air like a thunder storm ready to erupt.
That's what Outbreak is, it's 'that vibe,' a mass and building of moments, a meeting of hip hop people all in one place, far away from the distractions of everyday life, living and breathing nothing but this culture, for a few days.
It takes about 9 hours of travel to get to Outbreak from London. A night bus, to a coach, to a plane, to a train or another coach.
I always arrive in Banska Bystrica weary yet excited, the buzz of that vibe in the air, and 2016 was no different. I could smell it on arrival, and feel it before the train even arrived at the destination. That vibe, that vibe, it was still there, like it never left. From the first night, gathering in the centre square for the Hasta La Muerte crew Anniversary, (the crew of MG, the Founder and organizer of Outbreak Europe).
Maybe it's because I'm a writer, but I saw something profound and poetic in suddenly hearing the sound of the big clock in the centre chiming the hour at the exact time people started to gather, as if it was alerting the town to the fact that Hip Hop had once again arrived in Banska Bystrica for the long weekend.
That first night where everyone so quickly eased once again into that vibe! Concrete cyphers, the DJ truck pumping out music, a 'drink and break' competition, more music downstairs in the club, everyone with a drink in their hand. Too many people to talk to, say 'what's up?' to, 'how you been? who you here with this year? Where you staying? When did you arrive?' Hugs and hands shakes, pounds and fists. 1 euro pizza slices devoured by dozens. People suddenly taking out their cameras to film a group of young locals who decided to strip down to their underwear and walk half naked in the waters of the fountain. A slow walk to the nearby gas station to buy cheap drinks, conversing with a friend the whole way, sharing perspectives on the concepts of the dance that connects us. That vibe, crackling from that first night.
Then 3/4 hours of sleep, missing breakfast, coming to the mall to find that the frozen yogurt stand that everyone loved so much had been replaced by a food stand with fresh salads and crepes, as well as a juice stand with fresh wraps. From frozen yogurt to fruit salads, the quality still as fresh and the prices still cheap.
And then the event! The Cyphers, the Battles, the call outs. People dancing everywhere, in the circles, on the concrete, in the club. And not just bboys and bgirls, but house dancers, hip hop dancers, rockers and hustlers. All you got to do is spin a track and the bboys and bgirls will get down, it's what we train for, sweat and bleed for.
That vibe, that vibe, it carried over into the 2 basketball courts that greeted us this year. Halfway through the day, during a light shooting game, someone finally said, 'lets pick teams,' and suddenly 7 or 8 people became 10, shirts became one team and no shirts became the other, the empty spaces around the court filled with people coming over to watch bboys play at hoop dreams. More players turned up asking if they could join in, and as the sun beat down and music played in the background, guys sweated and ran and jumped in 5 vs 5 games of basketball, one game after another, the losing team switching out for the next 5 eager players wanting to shot, and grab rebounds. Even with the 2on2 qualification still to go, breaking and cyphers were forgotten for the bounce and swish of one of the original games of hip hop, and bboys went from B-BOYING to B-BALLING.
(Picture by www.dancephoto.cz)
People lounged in deck chairs, played the electronic games that were also new to this year. I made new friends in cypher call outs where like minded styles were exchanged. I felt the spontaneous vibes of connection in small moments of conversation when checking when my number would be called up for my turn to get down in front of the judges.
The sun beat down and everyone got down!
That vibe, that vibe, that vibe...
And every night the parties! Where the UK took over the stage, wilding out to the garage and grime that DJ Renegade dropped. Where a simple chat in the smoking area turned into a freestyle Rap battle. Where I always found a crazy, inviting, friendly, hype and buzzing energy around the Belgium family!
Where the Beatnuts proved that there's 'no escapin' that vibe when it takes over your body! All you can do is give in to it, jump, move, grab someone, scream and shout! Where people hustled to a live band outside the club, while others got down to the DJ smashing out tunes inside the club. Where the Raw bgirls once again showed everyone how to truly dance in a circle and party. Where everyone drank just a bit too much, and one moment you find yourself in a deep conversation, and the next moment your throwing your hands in the air and waving them wildly to the next banger the DJ just dropped. Where the party never does, and didn't this year, stop until they switched the music off and kicked us all out of the club, the Night finally going to bed and the Sun coming up to find everyone still looking for somewhere to continue that vibe.
That vibe, that vibe, that vibe... that was still going back at the hotel, finding people chilling and chatting and drinking outside. That vibe that kept us up so late we realised that we may as well go to breakfast because it was now 7:45am and breakfast was at 8am, in 15 minutes. So we ate, soaking up the alcohol in our stomachs, while chatting about the evening and how it felt like living in a movie, before finally going to bed for a few hours.
Tired and hung over that vibe got everyone out of bed still, to Rep their country on Sunday in the mall, DJ Fleg spinning, scratching and cutting like a man possessed, fueling the exhausted dancers back into action, as they fed off his beats and gave the mall spectators one last display of breaking to scream and shout about!
(Photo by Partychvil Documentary- https://www.facebook.com/PARTYCHVIL.DOCUMENTARY/)
That vibe that brought so many to the farewell party, far away from the city, through forests, up the winding mountain roads, in the wilderness hotel, where there was no longer any expectations to dance, host, spin, or battle. There was only the city left far behind for Nature, Stars and Fresh air. Music played in the bar where those exhausted from the long weekend slept on chairs at the back. People chilled around the big tables outside, eating, drinking and chatting, while wrapped in blankets. Nature greeted us with a beautiful cascade of rain that made everyone stop and watch in awe, as if Mother Earth was telling us that after all our hard work we could now sit back and relax and let her put on a show for us. And when the rain finished she dropped the curtain on the show by blowing in a mist of pure white, engulfing everything in front of the hotel for a few moments, before drifting away into the night, leaving everyone with a sense of wonder, as they went back to their conversations.
That vibe, that vibe, Outbreak is that vibe. It's where I truly learn every year that Hip Hop is a culture and community connected through passion. Give us a place to gather, away from the distractions of the world, where we can play our music, dance, chill, exchange, party, breathe and be one tribe, and we will come! It's why that Vibe is so strong every year, in the middle of Slovakia, in a small town called Banska Bystrica, that I bet, like me, you never heard of until Outbreak Europe was started there.
2016 was indeed another Legit Blast! (Pun intended.) Was it as good as 2015? I stopped comparing, it's not about that. Do you listen to a song you love and compare it to the last time you heard it? No, you simply enjoy the music, and at Outbreak you simply enjoy getting lost in that vibe.
Much Love to MG, MK and their whole team for once again making it possible for us to come out and enjoy the Hip Hop culture with them! Much love to everyone I met, laughed, danced, partied, cyphered, connected, shared and catch that vibe with! The Hip Hop culture and community is a crazy place and I'm glad I'm a part of it!
I discovered it at Outbreak, and now I search and take with me 'that vibe' everywhere I go.
The Vivid Scribe
Bboy Manny (Soul Mavericks crew UK)