Sunday, October 7, 2012

Jabbawockeez: The Pinoys Behind the Mask

Let me get one thing straight. I hate dancing. I hate that shit.
I know that some people can’t get enough of the wobbling, bobbling, tumbling, and pumping bodies and feet like it’s the fucking ashes of Mary Magdalene but I am not one of them. Dancing, especially hiphop, is beyond torturous. For me, it is equivalent to being skinned alive and thrown to a pool of melted salt before being showered with fresh lemon juice.
This hatred is primarily based on the fact that I can’t dance for my awsomely pathetic life, gaddamit. I mean, it’s not like I haven’t tried. Despite nature’s continuous and consistent protest, my own parents, and paid personnel begging me not to, I have given that son of a bitch a try.
To no avail. So I decided to do what every self-respecting human being does whenever they suck at something, I decided to scorn it.
That hatred, however, does not extend to the men and women who do it well, specifically to this group of boneless men called the Jabbawockeez.

The Beginning of Jabbawockeez

The Jabbawockeez is now composed of Rynan “Kid Rainen” Paguio, Phil “SB” Tayag”, Chris “Christyle” Gatdula, Joe “Punkee/Emajoenation” Larot, Kevin “KB” Brewer, Ben “Btek” Cheung, Jeff “Phi” Nguyen, and Tony Tran.
Ryan "Kid Rainen" Paguio headspin 2012
To all doubters, biters, and haters, you can kiss Kid Rainen’s head spinning ass.

Four are Pinoys: Kid Rainen, SB, Christyle and Punkee.
Yup, that’s right. The most successful hiphop group in the world is 50% Pinoy. Ha!
Of the four Pinoy members, two are founding members – Punkee and SB. They started as a trio in 2000ish. Like many other dance crews, they were one of the hundreds of thousands of dance crews trying to make a name for themselves in a nameless industry.
I know it sounds unforgivably arrogant but nonetheless true. So, I’ll say it again, the hiphop dancing industry was a nameless industry. Every dancer in every part of this beauti fuckin’ ful world were nothing more than a backup dancer. They were positioned around the main artist, regardless of how talentless the artist is, to dance in unison and dress in uniforms to create the illusion that the artist has some semblance of talent.
This, of course, only makes what Jabbawockeez has done even more kickass and badass. I mean, this was early in the 2000s. It was a time when choreographers were non-existent. I’m not kidding. Have you ever heard the self-professed savior of music called MTV ever mention who choreographed Thriller? Running Man? The god-forsaken Macarena? No. Nobody gives an ass who had the actual genius cell to conceive of dance steps that made every human being in the world jump up and dance like an obsessed lunatic on meth whenever the song plays.
Of course, there is also 99% of the world that can’t seem to make a connection between headspins, body popping, robotic movements, backflips and art.
SB, standing and looking down, because he can look cool doing anything.

The media, producers, and, pretty much the rest of the world took one look at these hiphop dancers wearing oversized hoodies, walking around on their hands, and gathering in circles while they boo and woo someone breaking every single bone in his or her body in the middle of the crowd, and said, “What the… is that a… how could… is that even… fuckin’ losers. These sellouts will not get anywhere” and walked away.
Instead of sulking, three dancers decided to shove the fuckin’ insults and doubts down the asses of everyone who dared think they can’t make it by doing exactly what others think they will never succeed in doing, dancing.
Punkee, Phil, and KB formed a group called The Muskees. Punkee, Philippines’ own felsh and blood, knowing that there are a lot of ignorant discriminating bastards that will dare judge them base on their race, suggested that they use a mask whenever they dance. That will force people to concentrate on their dance and not on their faces, races, and ages.
He also suggested the name Jabbawockeez, based on the monster created by Carol Lewis.

Three to First to Vegas

Slowly, other members started joining, each infusing their own style. Soon enough, they were able to create a dance style that is so unique, no one has been able to put a label on it, damnit.
The guys started wanting for more. They started dreaming big. They joined America’s Got Talent. They lost because… well, what the fuck do you expect with Sharon Osbourne, David Hasselfholff, and Piers Morgan?
But instead of running back to their day jobs because they need to feed their families and themselves, that’s sort of essential to stay alive, they decided to prove that kicking them out of the competition is astoundingly dumb by doing what they do best, they carried on dancing.
They joined America’s Best Dance Crew and blew away the minds of the judges, and mine, when they danced to the song Apologize. How a hiphop group who flips and pops for a living could make a dance routine to a slow song that’s so hardcore, it feels like Mozart, da Vinci, Einstein, Tesla, and Comaneci all collaborated to create it, I wouldn’t understand.
Joe "Punkee" Larot
Punkee, I’m not sure what he is doing.

The only thing I am sure about is that they kicked ass. They kicked so many assess, doubters started eating their own shit.
So, Jabbawockeez went on to become the first winner of America’s Best Dance Crew.
Now, for many of the groups that won after them, the ABDC win became the highlight of their career. Many of them essentially had nothing else going but their websites. Others were forced to continue becoming backup dancers to other artists.
Offers to become backup dancers poured but, in a true Jabbawockeez fashion, they looked around and said, “Nah! We’re good. Thanks.”
Well, “good” was an understatement. Good is when you have a regular gig as an acrobat in Cirque Du Soleil. Good is when you earn enough to eat five times a day and go on holidays once or twice a year. Good is when you are able to pay for your car’s mortgage and monthly house rent. Good is when you open your ref and find you milk can empty and know you have enough money to buy another can. That’s good.
Jabbawockeez didn’t do good. They are kicking so many asses so hard, people are starting to fly out the atmosphere. They are opening opportunities. They are elevating hip hop to a universally accepted art form. They are introducing a new culture. They are looking at all these millionaire producers in suits in the face to give them the finger.
That’s not ‘good’. That’s like battling Zeus in Olympus and coming out of it in one fuckin’ piece.
In 2010, less than 3 years since they won ABDC, they started their own show in Las fuckin’ Vegas.

Do You Understand? Do You Actually Understand?

Before you go and say ‘that’s impressive’, I want you to pause and actually think about what these fearless suckers have actually done because once you do, impressive isn’t going to cut it. Not even close. Not even in the vicinity of being close. Not even in the same damn time zone.
Chris "Christyle" Gatdula
Christyle doing an online dance tutorial
These guys who are supposedly “just dancers”, hip hop dancers, “back up dancers” are headlining their own show. They don’t have millions of dollars like the producers of Cirque or a name like that of Celine Dion or the legacy of Elvis and the Beatles. They’re just a dance crew but here they are… headlining their own effin’ show.
Theaters are being built for them. Every night, hundreds of people go to Vegas. People pay using their hard-earned cash to watch them pop, glide, break, and slide. I’m not even fuckin’ sure if that’s what they are called but fuck it.
They have also expanded their show to Australia and are making their move to take it to other parts of the U.S. beginning with the Atlantic City.
They are also the first dance crew to endorse multi-million brands. Do you get that? They are actual endorsers! Not talents, not extras, not choreographers… they are endorsers, damnit!
Not only that, they managed to do something that even Michael Jackson, Justin Bieber (forgive me for saying their names in the same breath), Whitney Houston, and other divas weren’t able to do, they put up their own record label. They own all of their songs and they own themselves.
Who’s the sellout now, bitches?

Proud Pinoy

As you all know, I don’t feature anyone here who shows no love for our country. They can be stinking bagoong to their bones but if they don’t acknowledge their heritage, I really wouldn’t give a fine fuck.
I am happy that Punkee, Kid Rainen, SB, and Chris have always been open, vocal, and hilariously proud of being Pinoy. They wear jackets and shirts with our flat, they talk in Filipino, they always say they are from the Philippines and, more importantly, they do keep known Filipino values.
Cheers to the first Pinoys who could very well be acknowledged as the first Filipinos to make it in mainstream Hollywood.

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