Student involvement in hip hop culture increases


DANCE DANCE REVOLUTION: Leo Kim, hip hop club member and junior, practices his dance moves after school.


For many, the modern day definition of hip hop is associated with the rap music of radio airwaves and inner city youths. For junior Leo Kim, hip hop is much more personal.

Kim said he began breakdancing– or ‘b-boying’, as he and others of the hip hop culture call it– about two and a half years ago after joining the CHS Hip Hop Club his freshman year. Although he said at the time it was simply a hobby, breakdancing has since grown to become much more.

“There were probably a lot of factors which initially drew me: the fact that I thought it looked cool, that I’d been shown a glimpse by a friend before,” Kim said. “But once that all faded, what really made me stay was the community and the love of the dance.”

After becoming more involved in his newfound passion of dancing, Kim said he began to branch out into the hip hop community.

At first, he said he visited hip hop outlets in downtown Indianapolis, such as the Naptown Hip Hop Congress, and other high schools in the downtown area. Beyond this, however, Kim said he began to connect to hip hop globally.

“I have family in Korea and work an internship there, so I visit there almost every summer; and since Korea is such a Mecca of dancing, I was able to meet people everywhere from Russia to Jordan,” Kim said. “(My trips) let me connect with dancers from all over the world and gave me a perspective of how much room I still had left for improvement.”

Brandon “Edge” Haines, a professional hip hop dancer in the process of opening a dance studio in central Indianapolis, also said he believes community to connections to be the driving essence of hip hop.

“You become a true hip hop dancer by just hopping in with other dancers. I mean, I’ve traveled all across the U.S., from Atlanta to Chicago to New York to Florida, just to battle dancers and teach workshops,” Haines said. “All the dancers in our community are all about love. That’s what hip hop is; it’s all about the community.”

Around the same time Kim picked up hip hop dancing, his friend and senior Richard Phan did too. Phan said he also has been dancing for several years but believes that popular perception of hip hop has been distorted.

“People often times misconceive hip hop as pop music and just mainly music. I can reassure anyone that hip hop is just more than music,” Phan said. “It is a way of life, and there are many elements of hip hop that people may have forgotten about.”

Kim also said he finds that in modern interpretations of the art, many lose the sense of unity with which hip hop was created. He said that  he believes the concept of  unity is a key element in regard to hip hop culture.

“Personally, hip hop for me is just one love,” he said. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you believe in; in the hip hop community, everyone’s in it together.”

Haines said he believes that the sense of affecting a community and those around him is where he derives his enjoyment and love of dancing and hip hop.

“For me dancing is always number one; it’s what I do, what I am. I dance to give people a physical injection of enjoyment,” he said. “Through the eyes, they become happy. I dance because I wanna make other people happy.”

Phan said that for he and Kim, the reasoning for dancing is also related to not only their own love, but also the effect it has on their spectators.

BREAK IT DOWN: Leo Kim, member of the CHS Hip Hop Club and junior, demonstrates his dance moves after school at a club meeting while others watch. Kim said he began “b-boying” about two and a half years ago. Omeed Malekmarzban / Photo

“We try to get involved and show our dance moves in public as much as possible,” he said. “That way we can entertain people, just by doing what we love.”