Category Archives: The 818 Session

Krumping on Studio City Patch

Xclusive, Krucial and Duece at the 818 Session. Photo: Diane Haithman

Night Moves: Krumping in the 818

On Wednesdays at midnight, street dancers bare their souls at the 818 Session at Magnolia and Vineland. This week, Heidi joined the “krump circle.”

This is our first Krump Kolumn.  That is, a brand new kind of kreation for me and Miss Paws, my faithful kanine ko-writer.

That’s Heidi’s new “krump” name after we were invited to drop in on a little-known ritual that has been happening once a week at Magnolia Shopping Center for more than four years. At midnight, right there at Vineland Avenue and Magnolia Boulevard, in the shadow of Carl’s Jr., Ralphs and El Pollo Loco, magic happens.

No krump dancer turns into a pumpkin when midnight tolls, but what happens here has been a Cinderella story for many. Krump, celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, is a form of freestyle hip-hop born right here in Los Angeles.  The 818 Session, also known as the krump circle, has transformed the lives of professional dancers and amateur enthusiasts alike who felt confined by the limitation of established dance technique and the walls of the studio.

Most in the 818 Session are pros like Duece and Manny “Xclusive” Fernandez, who says krump allows dancers to “let our emotions out very clearly –we’re not able to do that with other dance styles.  With this, there’s no limit.” Adds Deidra “Krucial” Cooper: “It’s a lifestyle.” Dancers come from all over the city, attracted by the relative safety of the area.

These are the people you see on tour with Madonna or Snoop Dogg, or maybe teaching nearby at the prestigious Millennium Dance Complex on Lankershim Boulevard, dancing here for free. The 818 Session is their sanctuary, where all are welcome including the cops who stop to make sure cruising cars, thumping rap music and aggressive-looking moves don’t mean something bad is going down.  Performers say the peace officers become entranced by the dance.

Read entire article on Studio City Patch

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Getting Back to the Session

Since I’ve been working on “The Underground: From the Streets to the Stage” to premier at USC on Sept. 5, I haven’t been to the 818 Session in months. This week I drove out and remembered why I keep coming back.

R.I.P. Oscar Duncan: June 4, 2012

Monday night, 23-year-old Oscar Duncan was shot and died outside his mother’s house on the 600 block of Santa Clara Avenue. Since this is three blocks from my house (We both attended Venice High.), I biked over today and saw cards, candle and flowers on the gate. I heard about his murder through the krump community on Facebook.

Read the full story at latimes.com.

Funeral Service will be held on June 15, 2012, at 10 a.m.
First Baptist Church
685 Westminster Ave.
Venice, CA 90291

Dances With Films festival screening

Jessica Koslow, Miss Prissy, Lil’ C, Manny Fernandez

“The 818 Session” had its premiere at the Dances With Films festival on Friday, June 1, at 2:45 pm at the Chinese 6 Theatres.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Opening night party on May 31 at Twist in Renaissance Hollywood Hotel

Jessica Koslow, Dov Rudnick, Miss Prissy, Lombard Twins, Deidra Cooper, Manny Fernandez, a friend of the Twins

RIP Elwood Edwards White, aka Biggz

Elwood Edwards, 22, was shot in the chest and killed around 1:30 p.m. Sunday, May 20, at Oceanside Boulevard and Temple Heights Dr., near Temple Heights Elementary School. Read the full story at NBCSanDiego.com.

Just google Elwood Edwards and Oceanside, where he was shot, to find a list of articles. The problem I have with this coverage is they make Elwood sound like a monster. It wasn’t right what he did, but he only had a stick. And it was one he found in a truck; he did not seem to be previously armed. I respect the police and what they do, but they could have shot him in the leg, outnumbered him and hit him with their clubs, tasered him. It seems like there were lots of possibilities besides shooting him in the chest. When I asked his friends at the 818 Session, where he danced, about Elwood, they said this was a man who carried around a bible, krumped at the 818 and was known to be encouraging. His actions on May 20 surprised people, and did not seem like typical behavior. He was a human being and that is completely left out of all of the coverage. In one story, the reporter cared more about a woman’s car than about Elwood.

The latest story reads, Witnesses shocked by fatal shooting by deputy. Read full story at NCTimes.com.

Elwood’s Funeral Service will take place at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, July 3, 2012, at the Oakwood Memorial Park Cemetery located at 22601 Lassen Street, Chatsworth.

Getting Back to The Essence of Krump

Photo by Dan Carino

Though all dance styles are welcome at the 818 Session, the spotlight is on krump, a dance form created circa 2002 in South Central Los Angeles. Dave LaChapelle’s 2005 documentary “Rize” introduced mainstream audiences to krump and clown dancing — the latter adds face paint and costumes and has since subsided in popularity. Krump, however, has managed to gain momentum worldwide.

The economic and social conditions of South Central Los Angeles at the turn of the 21st century contributed to the brewing of repressed emotions and explosive atmosphere that birthed the essence of krump: a defiant attitude, extreme movement, and intense release.

Moving locations from its origins in South Central L.A., the 818 calls North Hollywood home (the session is named after its area code). As B-boy, a former breaker and one of the founders of the 818, explains, a dance community already existed in and near NoHo, which supports the circle: Debbie Reynolds Dance Studios, Millennium Dance Complex, and Evolution Dance Studios are all located in the area. The existence of these studios as well as the relative niceness of the neighborhood makes NoHo a present-day mecca of krump.

“There are no gang bangers out here,” assures Krucial, a sweet-faced, tough-bodied 2010 college graduate and amiable, welcoming session host. “There’s no real violence. It’s the 818, Valley, Hollywood, North Hollywood-type of style. Everybody can meet here. At the 818, it’s not just one group of people that meet here. It’s this group from Compton, this group from Inglewood, that group from Watts, this group from Hollywood. It’s the meeting ground so people can feel like they’re not on one particular side.”

Chopper has been part of the krumping scene for nine years, but just recently stepped into the circle. The muscular, handsome dancer whose foundation is in popping expresses similar thoughts: “Whenever you got a bunch of positive people together, it just feels totally different than when you got a negative space where people outside who ain’t really here to krump are doing other stuff. Everybody is positive. They don’t like when people start trouble. It’s almost like an unspoken code.”

As the mainstream faces of krump and two of the dance’s founders, Lil’ C (“So You Think You Can Dance,” “Rize”) and Miss Prissy (“Rize,” Snoop Dogg, Madonna) lend the ultimate legitimacy to 818 by showing up each week. She often pulls people aside for one-on-one conversations about opportunities or issues of concern in the community and calms the flaring tempers of agitated krumpers. Lil’ C opens the door of his car under a bright light so his stereo speakers can serve as the sound system. He also monitors the amount of space within the circle, asking people to “open it up” when the session shrinks. The validation works both ways.

Soon after krump dancing’s popularity had peaked, many of the dancers lost sight of the heart of krumping. Battling, not brother(sister)hood, moved to the center of the session.

“The essence of krump is built on family and trial and tribulation,” says Miss Prissy. “We would dance and session and battle each other and after that have dinner together. But because by the time it got to the masses it was starting to look like a fad. People started to put their own twist on krump. ‘Well, krump for me is being better than everybody and being the best’ [she says as if imitating someone]. It was never about that. A lot of people forgot the essence of krump. Krump wasn’t based on battling. Krump wasn’t based on self-gratification, on being the winner, the champion.”

“Now you battle somebody and lose and somebody wants to fight you,” she questions. “What happened? This is why we didn’t join gangs.”

Fortunately now, seven years after “Rize,” people are starting to remember. Every once in a while a battle breaks out. But as Prissy sees it, krumping has come full circle.

“Krump was based on a dream that we all had,” she says. “That’s all it was. Because all of the kids dream about being on television, about getting out of their backyards, about one day waking up and your lights not being cut off. Now when I go to the 818, I see it now. It’s not battles. Everybody’s just dancing. The energy is so good. You’re dancing out there till 4 a.m. You just feel so good and refreshing. And after we’re done everybody goes and eats. It feels like it’s happening all over again. It feels like it’s on its second wind.”

Article on KCET.org

March 21 Session

It was crowded by the time I got there around 12:15. It was the largest gathering I have seen in a long time. Not since last summer was the session this big. It seemed like more of a party atmosphere than usual. A group of young kids came over with two cases of beer. Frankie J. quickly told them that wasn’t OK. He said the police would shut down the circle. I also think there’s a different vibe when people drink, and the circle is not about that. Frankie is one of the enforcers of the circle’s unspoken rules. Every once in a while there is a different kind of energy circulating, and it was just one of those nights. The highlight of the session — I only stayed a little over an hour — was Worm. He’s a regular. He’s little, incredibly athletic and he throws himself to the asphalt with complete abandon. He goes all out — jumping high in the air, dropping to his knees, belly on the ground, springing up from a backbend. I also saw my eighth woman enter the circle. Her name is Ladia Yates, and she’s sort of well known in the dance community. She’s all over YouTube. She’s not a krumper though. I think Miss Prissy said she does Memphis jookin. I heard Storyboard came back this week and battled b-boy Kmel, but I missed it. Apparently, it got pretty heated.

March 14 Session

Good newz! There were a lot of people at the session tonight — and it was still early. The energy was especially good for two reasons as I would soon find out. First, J.Bad was back. He is a member of the Newz Family, “the first Hispanic crew to be out there like that,” Manny Fernandez, aka Lil Newz, once told me. J.Bad, aka Junior Newz, had been arrested for not being a U.S. citizen while being stopped for something else. The 818 had a fundraiser back in January to help pay for some of his legal fees. And here he was, back at the session, wanting — needing — to dance. I became very emotional seeing him there, even more so when he danced. He was back home.

I dedicate this post to the Newz Family. Bad Newz, the lead member, was there. He danced a few times. After J.Bad went away, he came to the circle two weeks in a row asking for donations. “What if they took this session away from you?” he asked, his voice cracking. “Something you loved to do … He’s like family.”

Lil Newz, aka Manny, danced. He always does — with a lot of heart. He was hit by a car in 2010, broke his leg and got a concussion. Three months later he was back at the session. In a wheelchair at first, then on crutches. People have told me he krumped with his arms while sitting, then with one leg and one arm while on crutches.

The second reason the energy was so good tonight is that Miss Prissy brought a friend from her New York trip back with her. His name is Storyboard, and I think he said his style is mutation. He was amazing. He seemed to lack a skeletal structure the way he swerved and bent, and his muscular control was impeccable as he tilted his upper half backward to the ground and slowly crept up again. Effortless. He told me that he was trying to get the vibe of krump and this circle. He had his own session in New York, but he wanted to branch out. At some point in the night, he told me he thought he was starting to understand the 818 — the emotion, the movement, the attitude. There were no rules. He just wanted to contribute.

March 7 Session

Photo by Francesco Belvedere

It was cold tonight. As I pulled into the Ralph’s parking lot, I didn’t see a single person in any of the usual spots. Then I saw a crowd in front of the Chase bank. I have often imagined what a powerful statement it would make if the dancers krumped in front of the Chase bank. And now it was happening.

The session began soon after we arrived. And then the iPod died. I’m not sure exactly what happened. Technical difficulties was all I heard the owner of the car whisper. There was silence for about 20-30 minutes. It was cold so every minute felt like eternity. Everybody was ancy to dance. One guy even pleaded with the small crowd if anyone had a car to volunteer for the krump cause.

Finally, someone drove up and had a CD player in their car. This was unusual because the routine is that someone just plugs their iPod into the car stereo. This was very low-tech, but nobody complained too much. People were happy there was music.

The session started up again. Big Mijo was there. The energy is always more amplified when he’s there. He is one of the founders of krump, and he gets much respect. After he danced Creez, a young krumper, looked at me, and asked, “Did you see Mijo dance?” Then he proclaimed him the best while making all sorts of pleased and excited facial expressions.

The kid in the picture above danced. He’s one of the wildest I’ve seen. His krump moves are often punctuated by yells of approval and awe from the crowd. I don’t know his name yet. And this picture was taken on a different night. He’s a regular.

Uni, one of the founders of the 818, danced. He always does. People love him. He got major love tonight, ooohhhs and ahhhs from the crowd. The reactions ranged from “Damn” to “What you saying?” to “Where you at, Uni?” All familiar krump calls.

Mijo danced again. Then Lil’ C arrived. He jumped in the session, and when he finished I heard him say, “That was just practice.”

Two kids from Spain were at the session. There usually are a few people from a foreign country each week. These guys weren’t first-timers. They had come last week too. You could tell they wanted to krump. They kept moving their bodies to the beat and air krumping, but they never entered the circle, at least not while I was there. Maybe next week.

February 22 Session

Tonight was bananas. For many reasons (known only to insiders, not to me), you could feel the excitement in the air. (Corny phrase, I know.) Miss Prissy, Lil’ C and Mijo were there, three of the founders of krump. Tempers were flaring. I caught wind on Facebook of tension between krump crews, and I wondered if I would see some heated battles tonight. I did not see any. But what I did see was Miss Prissy, Lil’ C and Mijo inspired and amped.

I also saw Larry the Clown. For those who have seen Rize, there is a scene where Tommy the Clown and Larry are sitting on a bed dissing krump. Making fun of it. It is icey cold. And here is Larry the Clown (below, in the black shirt with neon colored designs) at the 818 Session, enjoying himself, encouraging others.

I asked Krucial, a female krumper, if that was Larry. She confirmed it was, and told me he was cool with everybody. “They all come around,” she said. You just feel krump. You can’t not.