B-boy crew sweats by night, wins by day

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B-boy crew sweats by night, wins by day


The Jinjo Crew performs at the 2010 R16 B-boy Championships & Urban Festival last weekend at Olympic Park. Provided by Cartel Creative Inc.

When most people are changing into their pajamas to go to bed, the members of the Jinjo Crew are putting on their bandanas and dance clothes and hurrying to a studio near Jongno 5-ga in downtown Seoul. It’s 12 a.m., and time for these B-boys to start practicing. As the sound of music echoes off the mirrored walls, the boys gather and execute a few moves, watching their reflections.

“During the daytime, we usually have performance schedules or personal errands to run. So we hold our practices at night so that no one and nothing can keep us from practicing for a long period of time,” said Kim Heon-jun, also known as Skim, a leader of the Jinjo Crew. The group of break-dancers has held daily practices from 12 to 9 a.m. for five years.

“I think we are much healthier than people who are active during the day. At least we are not exposed to smog and ultraviolet rays,” Skim said.

Their tireless effort paid off when the Jinjo Crew won first place in the crew battle and performance battle categories at the R16 B-boy Championships & Urban Festival Sunday in Olympic Park in southeastern Seoul. More than 300 B-boys from around the world participated in the tournament, sponsored by the Korea Tourism Organization.

“B-boys from other countries envy Korean B-boys for being citizens of a country where the government actively supports B-boy culture,” said Kim Hong-yul, one of the event judges.

It was not the Jinjo Crew’s first taste of success, but it may have been the sweetest. “Winning this contest means more than many other contests we’ve won since it is one of the major international B-boy battles in the world,” said Skim.

Since the crew formed in 2001, the lineup has changed, but eight members performing at R16 had been with the team since 2005 or earlier. Jinjo’s recruitment differs from other crews, which select new members by testing their skills. Jinjo Crew puts more emphasis on how committed new dancers are and how well they take direction, Shim explained. “It is important to find what each member is good at and help them develop that characteristic. Then older members coach new members in establishing their own B-boy style. Without trust, it is hard for new members and old members to work together and accept advice to find and develop a unique style.”

Trust and friendship are the values Skim cherishes the most. And the path of crew leader is not one he’s walked alone. With Skim there to play good cop, his brother Kim Heon-woo (also known as B-boy Wing), winner of the 2008 Red Bull BC One B-boy in Paris, acknowledged as the most talented member of the Jinjo Crew and its technical leader, plays a more critical role.

Wing is in charge of finances and planning gigs. “I did once think that I could do better leading the team. But I think the power system structure we have works for our team. I’m more of a planner and organizer, and my brother is more like a humane and charismatic leader who can embrace each and every members’ needs,” he said.

“There are times it was really hard to have B-boying as a job. Some of us couldn’t make it to a studio because we could not afford to pay for public transportation,” said Wing.

Yet even now, Jinjo still doesn’t have a manager or agent, other than Wing. “We do want to have some company to represent us. But it has to be a company that understands that practicing and entering competitions come first before performing at private events. Without practice, the Jinjo Crew doesn’t exist,” said Wing. The team was affiliated with an entertainment agency in 2006, but didn’t renew its contract.

Even other crews respect Jinjo for their work ethic. Kwak Dong-kyu, from the TG Breakers, said, “Jinjo Crew regularly runs to Namsan from their studio in Jongno. They say if they can manage to do those runs, there is nothing they cannot achieve in the world. I even followed them to Namsan once. Then I realized that their teamwork and friendship are the power behind the Jinjo Crew.”

But practice behind closed doors isn’t enough.

“Since dance requires a lot of technical skill, we don’t expect the public to join us on stage. But that does not mean that they cannot enjoy watching us show them the new style we developed. For us to be able to continue dancing, we need to have an audience that enjoys watching us,” said Skim.

By Lee Sun-min [summerlee@joongang.co.kr]

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