So I finally got a chance to sit down and write a piece on the multi layered Hip Hop monster festival that was IBE 2017. Talks, workshops, big competitions, side battles, parties, jams, graffiti and more. For myself, after missing last year, I returned to the Notorious event in Heerlen, to experience it once again.
My IBE experience was that oh so familiar early flight into Eindhoven, and the electric bus trip to the train station. It was munching on vending machine waffles and conversations about crew goals while speeding pass the Holland country side bound for Heerlen, aka the weekend IBE dancer city.
My IBE experience was the Friday warm up party at the IBE sleepover. It was B-boys competing in the dancers football competition, buffet food, jokes, dirty phone pictures, rum and cokes, herbal tea and indirect disses about B-boys growing their hair to cover the patch they lost to head spins.
It was friends gathered over long benches and wooden tables while music floated out from the bar upstairs. It was more familiar faces arriving every 20 minutes to join the gathering, breakers dancing on lino laid down outside, and minor spurts of rain causing everyone to dash for the shelter of the large table umbrellas. It was the warm up moving from the sleepover to Cafe Bracke, in the centre, and turning into the pre-party, as Tyrone officially opened IBE by asking everyone to get low, crouching or down on one knee, everyone with their phones in the air ready to snap or insta story the moment. DJ Lean Roc standing on the DJ booth, and then DJ Hooch bringing everyone to their feet with a roar by dropping Skepta's, 'Shutdown!' And Lean Roc stage diving pass the bar chandelier onto the hype, and weekend ready, IBE crowd!
My IBE experience was riding the shuttle buses from the hotel to the centre, from the centre back to the hotel, the first one seeing a group of obvious B-boys and B-girls pulling their luggage along the street, and pulling over to offer to take us to the hotel. It was always being greeted with a smile and the offer of playing music, by the drivers. It was everyone going off and dancing to a Latin track in the back, and always being lucky enough to catch the last, just after 4am, shuttle back to the hotel, just when we thought we'd have to walk.
My IBE experience was friends and shared connections. Old friends I hadn't seen in a few years. Friends whose welcomed smile surprised and ignited the same on my face because I hadn't expected to see them there until they were suddenly standing right in front of me. Friends I had partied and chilled with in Slovakia a week earlier and now continued that Vibe we'd shared there. New friends who taught me salsa in the middle of the market, and one I may have met before but definitely will remember this time after sparking a connection. Acquaintances I'd briefly met at Outbreak in the usual 'hi' and 'bye' of an introduction by someone we both knew but who here became an actual friend, as we put the causal 'hi' and 'byes' aside for much deeper exchanges. It was 2am conversations amongst the buzzing crowds that always spilled out from the after party bar. It was banter and swapping travel, adventure stories. It was 4am conversations outside the hotel about self-growth, learning to love yourself, and the true essence of expression through dance. It was talks about Muay Thai and those real-life perspective chats about waking up to what we truly want out of life and how dance may or may not fit into that.
My IBE experience was getting down in cyphers, surrounded by raw female energy, at the Heartbreakerz, 'Return of the B-girl' battle! DJ Fleg, the dark knight of beats, fueling the energy by dropping dope track after track.
It was watching B-boy Tonio and Venezuelan B-girl, Campanita, go off on a Latin break together with a sudden, spontaneous display of flavor-filled salsa dancing, causing all the breakers to stop, watch, and scream and shout in amazed appreciation, as the duo musically destroyed and shutdown the cypher with the rhythm of their hips moving, and their bodies spinning and dipping with one another. Yup, real B-boys dance salsa with real B-girls, when the track is just right.
It was suiting up in red and black to go to Freestyle war with my crew! First in the shadow of the Kingdom of Zamounda, and then in the theater Coliseum against the Portuguese Momentum.
It was the music cutting out on me about 10 seconds into my Focus on the Footwork qualifier round but everyone naturally going into a soul clap... shit happens.
It was watching the Holland Red Bull BC one qualifier competition and seeing how deep the Dutch breaking talent pool runs.
It was seeing B-boy Leelou, from the Rugged, hit a tasty elbow spin combo against his own crew member, Jessie, and then seeing him jump up with pure joy, sticking his tongue out in excitement. And later seeing that same joy, and love, from his whole crew when they proudly recapped that moment with him.
My IBE experience was BBQ food, late night kebab shop fries, one person omelettes big enough to feed four people, and apple and cinnamon pancakes with ice cream. It was discovering the crazy, dope graffiti exhibition in The Platform store, on the last night, which I'd actually walked pass every day because it was right next to where the shuttle bus dropped us off and picked us up. Did you check it?
It was the UK Funk and P team once again killing it on the decks at the Saturday night after party, and spontaneous hustle dancing outside the club after. It was the Sunday night farewell party continuing back at the hotel with music, dancing and more conversation, outside in the chilly night, until about 4am in the morning.
My IBE experience was the market place graffiti walls, it was stumbling into the crazy-hype of the Crash Bandicoot Trick Battle but arriving too late to penetrate the thick crowd standing on tables and chairs, going crazy over the tricking madness. It was battling a mean mugging kid in the cypher, marvelling at the stage design and setting for the Kingdom of Zamounda but missing the actual ceremony of it. It was passing through and glimpsing the funk and pageantry that was the Locking and Waacking duo battle.
It was chilling for a moment to catch the dancehall workshop vibes. It was seeing how easy Neguin made flips look, doing them with mic in hand as he taught dancers the ways of Capoeira with Breaking. It was noticing what a vibrantly, street art-decorated, city Heerlen is.
It was not realising how little I had slept the whole weekend until I finally got home and let exhaustion in.
Some say that there's too much going on at IBE, wishing they could see it all but that is the beauty of IBE, it's the experience that you choose to make of it. Share, dance, paint, compete, connection with people... it's all there for you.
You may not be able to see or do it all at IBE but what you do choose to see or do will always be memorable, full of vibrant, dancer fueled energy, and usually a little crazy in some way.
This was my IBE experience, what was yours?
The Vivid Scribe
B-Boy Manny (Soul Mavericks crew)
Yassine Alaoui Ismaili
Kwik Lien Huong