Friday, August 13, 2010

BTS Break Dancers - Bangkok

It sounds strange to say but if we're lucky and live long enough we enter an age where we're forced to take extra care moving around so we don't "fall and break something". Even such mundane activities as climbing stairs, strolling along uneven sidewalks or bathing can be a permanently life-changing event past the age of 60; earlier for some. I have a friend my age who's mending a leg, ankle and ribs at home as you read this. I'm not quite there yet, but it's on the horizon close enough to see clearly. There are some near and dear to me who've already entered the "bag of glass" stage and are dealing with the results of it.

When we're young we often think of ourselves as indestructible; caution not merely being thrown to the wind but disregarded entirely. I was reminded of this late one pleasant evening in Bangkok while returning from a movie with a friend, and it certainly gave me pause to think.

Walking along the elevated walkways that connect the National Stadium BTS station with MBK mall and the other three corners at the intersection of Phaya Thai and Rama I roads I could hear boom box music coming from the area closer to the BTS station, and asked my friend if he minded taking a detour to see what it was. "Dancing," he said, probably having seen it a thousand times, but he turned to head that way with me.

A large oval had formed on the wide walkway, edged mainly by college-age kids who sat cross-legged or squatted and watched (or joined in in turn) with the dozen or so who were practicing steps and break dance moves/routines. One knot of them were involved with a casual tag team-type competition of sorts; each taking their turn to show their stuff.

As you can see some wore protective headgear or knee guards but many just flung themselves around on the stone tiles with no less than reckless abandon, demonstrating that air of indestructibility I mentioned a few paragraphs ago.

A couple in particular seemed to be a few "moves" ahead of the others there that evening and put on an impressive display, whirling like dervishes. It made me wonder if it was merely youthful enthusiasm that fueled their energy of if they were artificially stimulated by means of the controlled substance known there as yaba (pronounced yah-bah, meaning methamphetamine). I suspect it was a combination of both in many cases. The shirtless young man in the black pants seemed to be wound pretty tightly, for whatever reason.

In the clip below I caught one occasion where the guy in the purple shirt came toward him as if to say "nice job, now watch this" and was abruptly pushed back by the shirtless guy who then goes on to do an extended head spin. It gives me a headache just watching it!

It's an agility I remember from my distant past - and I love seeing it, if for no other reason than it reminds me of the days when I wouldn't have dislocated something trying it myself!

[Note: These clips are "HD"/high definition clips you can watch in that mode, if you have a fast enough internet connection. The layout scheme I chose for Bao-Bao's Blog doesn't allow displaying a wide-screen clip very well. Nothing I seem to be able to do about that at this point - perhaps I'll figure a way of altering the code some day.]


Anonymous said...

that was fun to watch.. thx Khun

khunbaobao said...

It's worth stopping to watch when you run across in there, too. I'd showed the guys the clips on the viewing screen on the pocket recorder and they enjoyed seeing themselves, too. Gave them an idea of how they looked while "performing".

shamelessmack said...

Apparently Singapore, of all places, considers this a legitimate art form. I came across a news story over the weekend about how teams of breakdancers from a number of Asian countries (2 teams from Vietnam, 1 from Taiwan, and some other countries though I can't remember if they included a team from Thailand) were sponsored by Singapore's Arts Centre to participate in a breakdance festival at the premier Arts Centre - which normally showcases ballets and operas.

khunbaobao said...

I can see how it could be, Mack... what I've seen were merely practice "bits"; a polished routine could hold as much merit as a tango or salsa number. They all take some dedication and practice.