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Outbreak And Why It's What We Need written by Emmanuel Adelekun

“I needed this…” were words I heard spoken by many at Outbreak this year. These words were also echoed in all the laughter, excitement and smiles, in the way everyone got down in the cyphers, went crazy with screams and supports for the battles, and once again connected through the vibe that always radiates from Outbreak, at the The Legits Blast Festival.

You see, Breaking is bigger than ever right now. Sponsorships, media coverage, sporting recognition… it’s a crazy, amazing time to be a part of this dance and scene. But the influx of money and attention has also put more pressure on competitors, organisers, judges and everyone else involved in keeping our scene flowing and alive. There are more eyes on us, more scrutiny, and more rules on a dance that comes from a culture that always rebelled against the rules and status quo. We've accepted this is the balance of things, that to progress we must also adapt, but we can also accepted this because we have an event like Outbreak. A place where every year we get to celebrate the essence of this culture and dance, being free and wild in our expression of the pure form of what we do. Outbreak isn't just something we enjoy, it's something we need.

This is why we disappear into the country of Slovakia each year, eager and excited to once again be in the breaking-famous town of Banska Bystrica, where we can experience the things that light up our rhythmic spirits, and fill the need that is the hunger we have for this dance and culture.

Outbreak is where a Red Bull van, which looks like a ghetto bat mobile, can pulled up to the centre, equipped with speakers and turn tables, and blast out the boom bap sounds that feed our souls. It’s where we can turn the main square into a hive of cyphers, engulfed by breakers and hip hop lovers, everyone catching up with their people from around the world as power move and footwork battles pop off.

It’s where Jager flows through the systems of those repping in the traditional 7todrunk battle. And all this goes down with no one in the town batting an eyelid. It’s just the spark of the vibe signalling that Outbreak is back for another year.

Outbreak is a place where we feel unrestricted in the expression of the authentic release of our character.

It’s where you can be Mysterious, and Stylish.

Where we can stand Mighty in our stance.

Where we can show people why we're the Coolkidz.

And display the superheroes we have built ourselves into.

Outbreak is a place where we can be unflinching in how we show our love, passion and support for our crew members, our friends, and those who leave it all, honestly, on the floor.

It's another place where the youth are always given the spotlight to stand atop the present and show why they are the future.

It’s where we openly show love to those who bring out the best in us.

And let our emotions spill out freely when all our hard work pays off.

Outbreak is where those who still embody what it means to cypher, are acknowledged and given the chance to battle for the crown, because we need to see cypher cats like Peaky Rock and Snap, go off, throws burns, and challenge each other’s crew members to step up into the battle.

And the cypher battle is over, and crown given, it’s where they give you the time to speak your truth on the Mic. A truth Peaky Rock spoke with humble words from his heart, remembering and honouring those who have passed, and for whom he still dances.

It’s where they take the time to show appreciation for the way many have shined, and contributed, within the past 20 years at Outbreak.

Where we raise our voices loud towards the heavens so those up their can hear us in our passionate acknowledgement of the impact they had! Especially the man who created Outbreak 20 years ago in Florida, changing so many lives with his presence, Mex One forever, celebrated and remembered.

Outbreak is where we get celebration cake at the Friday night after party.

Where young champion, India, got to see if maybe she feels a spark for speaking on the mic, after Admir invited whoever was willing to host beside him.

Where, in between all the breaking and battling, we can relax and chill with other games, playing simply for the fun of it.

It’s where Breakers are given the chance to share the other elements of hip hop that they are also passionate about, practise and love.

And where we are always blessed to hear real rap legends live, gracing us with their musical genius! This year, Outbreak bringing, Jeru the Damaja, with his 'Scienitifical Madness.'

At Outbreak, we always get to fill our need to release through an epic party! Where the DJs get to spin the tracks they know will keep us dancing until the night gives way to the day. And even then, when the DJ plays the last song and the club shuts on Saturday evening, the party doesn't stop. Instead, everyone turns the outside walls into instruments, their voices into churns, and the club car park into a concrete cypher fuelled by breakers throwing moves in spontaneous, alcohol fuelled call out challenges. The sky might be bright but everyone still hangs around for hours, far from ready to retire to their beds.

Outbreak is where we get to represent not just where we live but our roots and heritage. Where we get to stand proudly beside our brothers and sisters of shared ancestry, ready to show the flavour and styles of the countries from where we hail, no matter how sleepy-eyed, hung over or tired we may be from the Saturday night after party.

And finally, Outbreak is where we’re able to decompress truly under the stars, even further away from the world, high above the town. Food, drink, games, music, and farewells, with the Red bull bat mobile back, blasting out sounds to keep the bears away.

You see, the truth is as I said, those who practice our art form are possessed by the raw, untamed spirit that gave birth to breaking and hip hop culture. We’re spontaneous, rebellious, and can be reckless by nature. We know this about ourselves. It’s why we’re drawn to places where we are able to truly let loose. Why we need to be amongst those who share the same energy, needing to ‘break’ out and away from the norm. This is why we need Outbreak, as it’s one of the places where we get to be in the energy of hip hop as a feeling and state of being. Of course, it’s not the only event or place on our scene where we get to be free in our expression but it damn sure is one of the special ones, where we keep our culture alive and strong in its authenticity. And when we re-enter the world, renewed and filled, our hip hop charkas re-aligned and vibrating, those who once again experienced the Legits Blast festival, are connected by the understanding of what each person means when, in reference to Outbreak, they say, “I needed that.”

Love and respect always to MG, MK, and their whole team.

Plus to Banska Bystrica for letting us run wild in their town.

Peace, love and hip hop

Emmanuel Adelekun

The Vivid Scribe

Photo credits: Little Shao, Slavo, Patrycja Warzeszka and Fonky- your photos bring back the memories that help form the words that become my story.

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