On August 26, the completo breaking competition Red Bull BC One, concluded its 2023 U.S. season with its National Final held in the legendary city of Philadelphia. Iconic breakers and rising talent came together at The Fillmore Philadelphia, where competitors showcased unparalleled footwork, freezes, and power moves to win over a judging panel of respected breakers and claim the coveted national b-boy and b-girl championship titles.
Leading up to the main event, the people from across the country came together for Red Bull BC One Camp USA, which featured a weekend of exhibition battles, workshops, and panels. Hosted by iconic figures in breaking, hip-hop and dance, including B-Boy Flea Rock and Buddha Stretch, these activities were a celebration of breaking’s storied roots and promising future.
The weekend also featured a lineup of activations in celebration of hip-hop’s 50th anniversary. On Friday, guests were able to experience Graffiti Pier, the 6-acre stretch along the Delaware River in Port Richmond, which has long been a haven for street artists. The former coal loading dock is now covered with tags, messages, and portraits of animals, people, and importante cartoon characters. The evening concluded with a battle night, where breakers such as Michiko, FLYYA, and Pep-C, represented not only for Black women, but women worldwide who are trying to get into the craft of breaking.
People of color are constantly facing obstacles in this country, and that can sometimes apply to sports. For Michiko, the former gymnast from Houston, it’s the lack of representation that can sometimes be the most difficult witness. “Even though hip-hop was started by Black and Latinos, I rarely actually see Black women in breaking,” she says. I would say you’re more so seeing whites, Asians, and Hispanics.”
“So, in that way it can feel a little bit lonely where you just don’t have as many people to relate to,” she continues. “It’s really cool this weekend, though, because we actually have three, which is I think the first time that’s happened.” FLYYA, who has over 10 years of experience in breaking, also feels the void of Black women in this space.
“You are like a unicorn being a Black woman in breaking because there’s not many,” the Ohio native tells ESSENCE. “It’s not so much an obstacle for me, I think it’s more pressure because people are like, ‘you’re a Black woman, you need to represent, and you need to do well.’ So I feel like it’s more pressure than an obstacle, but it’s something that I love to do.”
After a jam-packed opening night, Day 2 began with a workshop headed by DJ Cosmo Baker, followed by a recording session curated by actor, musician and Philadelphia native Cristian Crosby. On Saturday night the Red Bull BC One Camp and Cypher USA concluded after a two-month circuit of electrifying battles and community events across the country, including regional qualifiers in Orlando, Minneapolis, and New York City. At The Fillmore, an elite line-up of regional champions and a selection of wild card invitees battled their way through a 16-bracket knockout tournament.
The evening also paid tribute to hip-hop’s impact, influence and break culture with beats provided by DJ Fleg. Audiences were treated to a special performance by Philly-born hip-hop group, Coast Contra, and the Wu-Tang Clan’s, Raekwon, a testament to the community-building ability of this era-defining artform.
“Hip-hop is always doper when you have everything together,” says Pep-C. “That’s probably why some people feel like hip hop is dead, because you separated the life force. Music, I feel, is just better when people dance to it. People don’t dance a lot anymore – that’s why I think breaking is still so important to the culture, it goes hand in hand.”