By Caroline Li
Northwest Asian Weekly
Crowds of teenagers filled the Chong Wa Benevolent Building in the International District last Saturday night. They didn’t come for a dance recital or language classes. They came for the blaring beats, to see their friends, for hip-hop and 4 the LUV of It — this year’s theme for the third annual fundraiser of The Good Foot Arts Collective. The local nonprofit promotes community awareness and individual development through the arts.
4 the LUV of It was a breakdancing competition showcasing the top B-boys from across the nation, some hometown heroes and international guests.
The two-on-two “New Jacks” battled for the 21 and under crowd featuring crews such as Hamburgerlicious, Watch My Feet and Knuckle Movement, who ultimately took home the $500 cash prize.
The one-on-one battle featured eight of the area’s top B-boys as well as talent from Japan, Sweden and South Korea. Local, old school talent such as Tim Pitt from Massive Monkees and Orbitron (also known as Orb) from Circle of Fire, one of the first competing breakdancing crews to form in the area, came in support.
“It’s nice to see that the scene has grown and it’s still alive after all this time,” said Orb. “It was the underground that kept it alive. For me dancing is my form of meditation but as you can see here, it touches everyone.”
Matching their power and poses with personality and camaraderie, the breakdancers took it to the floor in celebration of this thriving underground culture that transcends across generational and ethnic lines.
“There are many people who are trying to fulfill themselves with things that are never going to fulfill us. We go on keeping things bottled up inside, looking for an outlet. Dancing is our outlet. God fulfills us,” said Louie Praseuth, one of the founders of The Good Foot.
The organization opens its doors to people of all faiths, but believes in carrying out God’s message to those they can. During a 15-minute intermission, attendees were invited to the stage to share their personal stories and to join in prayer and unity.
In dance culture, there are common issues that tend to bring disunity or failure that may come from gossip, pride, selfish agendas and plain miscommunication, explains May Praseuth, Louie Praseuth’s wife and co-founder of The Good Foot. “We aim to create a culture of conflict resolution, constructive criticism, honesty, transparency, humility and unity.”
The Good Foot started in 2006 when the two felt there was a need for an outlet that offered the youth a way to express themselves and be active in the community by using all genres of art. Both have long backgrounds in community hip-hop as dancers, organizers and supporters of the development of youth.
“We also work to bring unity among the different artist cultures so that each person can be encouraged and inspired,” said Emily Woo, a Good Foot volunteer.
The organization is run completely by volunteers who have their own individual day jobs. Anywhere from five to at least 20 members including instructors, dancers, emcees and DJs participate at any given time, depending on the type of event.
Their first event was funded by Louie Praseuth’s personal bank account. Since then, fundraising and personal donations to the organization have been keeping it a float. The funds raised from the event all goes back in to the community, meaning none of the staff get paid, and the monies go into producing future Good Foot events such as their annual fundraiser, 4 the LUV of It and their monthly gatherings.
Back home, The Good Foot is currently seeking grants to help fund future events that they can make free to the public, as most of the audiences are youth.
The role of hip-hop is huge, says Woo. “Just look around. It’s something for them to identify their emotions, struggles and issues with. It allows a freedom to express, create, and belong. I think Asians identify with the hip-hop culture because it’s what a lot of them grow up in. It’s what they see and have been exposed to naturally.”
Melissa Feng, 15, and Tammy Lui came to watch their friends from the Kobe crew compete. “We also know a lot of the other people here too,” said Feng, who got into the breakdancing scene by watching her friends practice at the local community centers.
The girls cheered on the competitors while checking out all the cute boys they had not seen before. “Our parents dropped us off. They don’t know what breakdancing is but as long as we’re doing something active and safe, they support it,” said Teng.
Little do their parents know, a culture birthed out of their generation is now bringing together the generations of those after them, and will continue to as long communities invest in the youth and organizations like The Good Foot continue their work, all for the love of it ? ♦
For more information on The Good Foot, visit www.myspace.com/goodfoot411.
Caroline Li can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.