B-boys rock to the breaks

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Josiah Ihem battled with the Docious Gambinos crew, a subset from his main crew Squishy Docious. Ihem made it to the final round, but lost to the BB Guns crew.

Omar Oseguera, Photo and Multimedia Editor

Breakdancing events in Bakersfield are not very common, but thanks to Omar Juarez, a local DJ, Break ’Em Off has been started as an effort to raise awareness for hip-hop culture in the area.

Juarez held B-boy events back in 2001 with his friend Joseph Hernandez, but both were newly inspired after seeing local B-boys.

“We went to an out of town contest, and we saw kids from Bakersfield dancing,” said Juarez.

Motivated by seeing the younger generation adapting to B-boy culture, Juarez resurrected the event in 2011 with Break ’Em Off 2.

“We got together and felt that we needed to do it again because we saw kids in town that were still dancing,” said Juarez.

“Back then we were the only ones in town really doing it. Our goal is for the new generation.

“You grow up and start taking care of bills and all that, but you start seeing the new generation and realize that it’s still here, and they’re learning all on their own. So I felt it’s a good opportunity to start again and get a good response.”

On Nov. 3, Juarez put together Break ’Em Off 3 at The Garden in downtown Bakersfield.

The event was a series of rounds between crews. Judges determined who made it to the next round, and the last crew standing won a $2,000 cash price that was gathered by Juarez and his partner Hernandez. The event had no sponsors and was achieved with the help of longtime friends and supporters.

The event brought B-boys from all around the United States, with the winners being two members of the Battle Born crew, a B-boy crew from Las Vegas.

“It was good,” said Juarez after the event, “but 80 percent of the people there came from different cities to compete.

“We didn’t get a lot of people from Bakersfield which kind of sucks, but hopefully more people come out next time.”

Juarez believes that events like Break ’Em Off are helping the youth in the community.

“Some of these kids practice every day after school,” said Juarez.

“A lot of kids just think that all there is to do here is go to parties and be in gangs, but there’s a lot more and we’re trying to bring that here.”

Juarez is heavily involved in hip-hop culture and has been for some time. He is a regular DJ at The Mothership, another hip-hop event in Bakersfield in which a group of DJ’s play classic records from the genre.

The Mothership is held inside Sandrini’s Bar every month, but Juarez also wants the youth to be involved, which is why he creates events like Break ’Em Off.

“It’s better for the kids to be there breaking than at a party on a Saturday night, rather than doing drugs or fighting,” said Juarez.

“The battles get aggressive, but that’s how the B-boy culture started in New York, and it stays like that. Seeing that gets me really excited because it’s young kids, and you always have those OG cats who teach the kids as well.”