This is my annual Year In Review blog post. This has become a bit of an annual tradition, and gives me a chance to look back at all my experiences in the year before moving forward into 2019.
If you have followed this blog over the years, you know this could get long! 2018 was a life-changing year and since there is much to discuss, let’s get right to it.
So the year started off with a big family trip in Mexico. My grandma wanted to bring her family all together somewhere hot. Considering I was in the process of dealing with an ongoing hip injury, this was a much needed rest.
I didn’t do too much dancing this month other than a few private workshops but we did have a very special guest come and visit Montreal: Shabba Doo (The Lockers, Breakin’ film) made a surprise visit to our weekly LockUnity practice. It was a rare treat to have such a legendary dancer share a little of his story and experiences with us.
Ford, a popper in Montreal, organized Da Reunion, a fundraiser for his annual event Chaos Unleashed and included a Locking battle. It’s always a pleasure when other organizers include a Locking category in their event so we always have to show our support. Below is the final battle between Dizzylock & Melofunk, judged by Treklock.
If there is another city in North America with a similar vibe and growing locking scene as Montreal, I would have to say it’s San Francisco (and the Bay Area). A good friend, Shy Guy, decided to pay a visit and we had a good time chilling out and catching up. Of course we took him to La Belle Tonkinoise, an amazing restaurant run by my crewmate Boombeast.
Winter was especially tough with the hip injury but it was still important to get out and enjoy some good music on weekends, like at Voyage Funktastique, where we ended up meeting some new friends who moved to Montreal: DJ Bles-sed and Hughes. Thanks to Leah McFly for introducing us that night.
With spring just around the corner March is always a month that feels a little more hopeful. LockUnity was asked to be guest performers at Hit The Floor, a big choreography event that takes place in Gatineau, Quebec. We presented a new piece: “Sleep Now In The Fire” that showcased Locking in a different feel, using music from one of my favourite rock bands as a teenager: Rage Against the Machine.
For the past three years Kenini organized On Point, a 1vs1 locking battle. Unfortunately, this year it didn’t happen, but back in 2015 a lot of the lockers who were in town for the first edition got together to film a video. After finally getting ahold of the footage (thanks Viviana!) I was able to make a short little montage of that day. You can check out Changing Times below.
At the end of the month I was invited to Nashville, Tennessee to judge an all styles battle at one of the biggest events in that area: Bashville Stampede. Going to events in the USA is always fun especially when you see friends that you haven’t seen in a long time. Shoutout to B-Boy Wicket, my surprise roommate! Seeing Memphis Jooking live was incredible and what made this visit extremely special was being able to meet Cozzmolock and Kid Dynamo, two lockers who I knew about for years but never had the chance to meet in person. Cozzmo was the partner of Loose Caboose and was in Gemini’s Obsessive Funk film. I made a point in my life to meet every single one of those lockers and accomplished that goal this year. Cozzmo is a super funky dancer and an incredible DJ (he brought his own equipment to spin in a separate room for all the lockers there!) I even got to spend some time and interview him before heading home that weekend.
The other locker I knew about for years, as we were friends for a long time online, but never met personally, was Kid Dynamo. He was an influential figure on the east coast as he inspired many dancers in NYC, Miami and Peurto Rico. Getting to hear his story of how he first met Scoo B Doo and some of the early Soul Train dancers in Miami in the early 1970’s was cool. We even got to share the dance floor and get down together, and he showed me some of his favourite Locking salsa steps. It was heavy news to hear that a few weeks later he passed away due to health issues. It was very shocking but I felt grateful to have been able to have spent some time with a person so full of life and positive energy. Much love and RIP Kid Dynamo.
April marked the 10 year anniversary with the love of my life: DJ Ruby Jane (awwww)
We initially met at a Sharon Jones concert and our lives have been full of good music, food and lots of dancing! We decided to host a special party for our anniversary. Seeing that our anniversary now also coincides with the untimely passing of Prince, it is only fitting that we called our event “A Love Bizarre”, featuring lots of music by the Purple One and his entourage that make up the Minneapolis Sound
Another old friend came to visit Montreal this month. Mayumi, a locker from Japan came for a short visit to our weekly practice spot at Espace Sans Luxe.
Our weekly practices are always so full of energy and each year we get a few new students joining the mix. In conjunction with the Hot Mess weekend we decided to host a special practice and called it the Family Affair reunion. Family Affair was one of the first locking events I organized in Montreal bridging the Locking and Waacking scenes together. So this practice was special because all the Montreal lockers got to share a practice with waackers from all over the world including Canada, USA, Australia, Taiwan, Japan, Korea and more! The Soul Train at the end of the night is one of this year’s highlights. It was magical!
For years I have wanted to see the scene in Canada grow to a point where locking crew battles could be a possibility. When Monsta Pop reached out to me asking if we could set up an exhibition battle at his event Jack Of All Trades, I was stoked! We decided to set up a 3vs3 battle between Montreal’s Ingenious Lockers (Quantalock, Apachapoulilock & Melofunk) and Vancouver’s Counter Weight (Boris, Natasha Gorrie and Tony)
As I mentioned it was a dream for me to see Canada rep in Locking crew battles. 2016 was the first time this took place at an event in Toronto called Keep On Dancing (KOD) and the winners ended up repping at the international finals in Los Angeles that year (big up Kosi, Cantolock, Pyro & Lady C). The battle returned in 2018 and this year the finals would be taking place in China with a big grand prize. It was time for LockUnity to rep! Now this year brought a lot of humbling lessons for me. Again, due to my hip injury (which initially occurred at KOD 2016) I felt I wasn’t capable to participate and so stepped aside but supported the crew as they still pursued this challenge. I couldn’t have been more proud of Quantalock, Treklock, Melofunk and Apachapoulilock as they won both the Canada qualifiers and the North American finals later that month.
Big up to The Hood Lockers out of Philadelphia, a crew that has been active for a long time and consist of dancers I have a lot of respect for!
Although at the time I didn’t feel ready to enter a big competition I was still dancing and was invited to judge another big Krump event in Montreal called The Clash. I judged an All Style vs Krump battle. The energy in the venue was insane! Shoutout to Taminator and the MTL Krump Alliance doing great work in the city!
I had to also put b-boying to the side this year as I became a lot more limited due to, you guessed it, my hip (an ongoing theme of 2018). However it was announced that Megas from the legendary Boogie Brats was going to be teaching a special workshop in Montreal. Megas is one of my early heroes in my dance career so I had no choice but to be in the front of the class, injury or not! I was very happy to see him receive a very special and much deserved tribute later this year in Switzerland.
Locking4Life celebrated 10 years since being publicly launched in 2008 and has grown to having representatives in dozens of countries, helping the Locking scene grow around the world. This year Funky J (France) worked with members of James Brown’s band, The JB’s, and put together a special video featuring Lockers from around the world, including Montreal. You can check out “We Came To Play” below
With summer in full swing, Montreal is the place to be for festivals, parties and all sorts of events. This month Ruby Jane hosted The Sauce (with Professor Groove) and Golden (with Bles-sed). There was an amazing all-vinyl disco, funk and house jam called HOME put on by DJs with a slamming sound system and featuring lots of balloons!
Chocolate Jungle hosted an amazing outdoor block party at the Pied De Courant beach area that had a Soul Train line in the sand! Aba & Preach hosted a cookout jam in the same spot a few weeks later and both parties captured the Montreal party vibe perfectly.
I also taught a special weekend-long Locking bootcamp at Krossline Studios.
Looking back it’s clear to me now how life-changing this year was. Not only did I have to change my approach to dance and work around an injury, I also took steps to change my other career. For 8 years I worked as a teacher at Place Cartier Adult Centre in the West Island. I taught not only Science classes (Chemistry, Physics, etc) but also a special Hip Hop Education course that offers students a chance to be active participants in all elements of Hip Hop culture. It was a very difficult decision to leave the school but I felt it was time to make a change in my own life and become a student once again. Since August I have been studying web development and computer programming in a self-taught approach. I’m not going to get too much into that here but it has been an epic experience and I am so excited to be learning new skills each day!
LockUnity travelled to China this month and they ended up battling China during the crew battle. Canada as a whole unfortunately lost in the first round of the crew battle. However, Treklock, Melofunk and Quantalock all entered a 1vs1 battle and made Top 16 out of over 200 lockers! Quantalock actually made it to the semi finals. Once again I got to give props to Quanta, Melo, Trek and Apachapoulilock. You guys achieved an extraordinary goal this year and should be proud for what you have accomplished. (I know I am!) You put Canada (and Montreal) on the map at one of the world’s biggest international events.
During the rest of the month I was busy on a few other projects, including a special workshop at H4L studios.
In France there is an annual week-long Locking camp called Lock Is Not A Joke. It’s an intense week of workshops, conferences, showcases and a big battle at the end of the week. I went in 2015 and 2017 and for the last 3 years I worked on special tribute videos for some of the invited guests who received Lifetime Achievement awards (including Scoo B Doo and Tony Gogo). Even though I couldn’t make it this year, I worked with Gemini on the tribute for this year’s recipient: Richie Rich.
I’ve stated quite often how much of an impact Richie has had on my life, as a dancer and an overall human being. He has given so much of himself for the betterment of Locking and this was my way of saying thank you for all he has done.
With the summer coming to an end and LockUnity back from China the month ended with the year’s biggest Locking event in Canada: Unlock The Funk. In preparation for the event LockUnity was featured in a special segment getting down at Parc Lafontaine, our regular summer practice location.
I was also featured in a special CBC article written by a good friend, Nantali Indongo.
So, Unlock The Funk is an event we (myself, Quanta & Apachapouli) started last year to celebrate LockUnity’s 10 year anniversary. With the success of the 2017 edition we decided to make this an annual event. For the 2nd edition we brought another Locking OG to Montreal: Tony Gogo (The Lockers, GoGo Brothers) Tony is an incredible soul and we all enjoyed having him in our city. He always brings good vibes!
We also brought a battle guest duo for the main event this year. Vovan (Russia) and Funky J (France). They taught workshops, shared their experiences as a duo and participated in an incredible battle. This year we had dancers from Japan, Canada, USA, Russia, France, UK, China and more. It was truely an international experience! If you are a dancer from out of town, I highly consider visiting Montreal for Unlock The Funk 3 happening Aug 31-Sept 2, 2019.
Here’s the trailer and final battle, filmed by the amazing Kevin Kim.
The rest of the month I continued my studies, while offering a few classes on street dance history at KLM Studio and a new regular class at Equilibrium studio.
City, one of the members of my breaking crew Illmask, has been running a dance studio for the past three years in the West Island called Break City. I’ve witnessed first hand the amazing work him and his wife Tiff do for their students, fostering them to grow and become active in the local breaking scene. When City asked if I could teach a regular Locking class for the remainder of the year I was all too eager to get started. The students at both Break City and Equilibrium this Fall have been amazing. They have so much potential to be great Lockers and I hope they keep up their study of this dance. They have the support of myself and our entire MTL streetdance scene.
Can I Get A Soul Clap, another annual MTL event, featured a Locking category for the first time this year. It was judged by Quantalock and the final battle took place between Jonny Quest and Dizzylock. It’s great to see some of the younger lockers pushing their level and bringing the heat in battles!
Got to give a special shoutout to Dizzylock this year as he won 3 separate Locking battles in the city: Da Reunion, Under Pressure & Soul Clap as well as repping for the first time out of the city in Toronto and the USA at Step Ya Game Up in NYC. Keep elevating!
The month ended with a special showcase at the Cat’s Corner 20th anniversary with Melofunk, Boombeast, Preach and another dancer I admire: Travis Knights.
I originally started Locking when I lived in Hamilton and the scene in Toronto has always been very special for me. Over the last few years I have witnessed the Toronto locking scene grow because of the awesome work done by the homies Keylock and Shortstop. When Keylock said he was going to be organizing Crystallized again this year, LockUnity rolled deep to support! As I mentioned earlier, the mutual respect and kindred spirit Montreal lockers share with the Bay Area scene is pretty strong. Dennis Infante and Lil B, from the Bay Area’s GroovMekanex were in attendance (as judge and battle guest respectively) as well as the Bay Area Lady Lockers. This gave us a great chance to hang out and get down together.
At first I was really not planning to enter the battle (due to the hip, of course) but it was Treklock that convinced me to do it because everyone from Montreal was entering and so should I. And to be honest, it was time to work around this injury that had such a debilitating affect on me the last few years. In short, not being able to do what I love was too depressing so I had to make this work. Well, I made it to the finals and won and even though we have battled numerous times (with and against each other), Trek has always pushed me to be the best I can be and I am forever grateful for having him in my life. A true funk brother!
This battle was different. It was a small victory against my own self-doubt and set the stage for what was to come in the final weeks of 2018.
On a sad note, November saw Espace Sans Luxe have to close it’s doors. For 2 years the space was a home for the MTL Locking scene and we had many great moments there during our weekly practices. A big thank you to Axelle and her team for all she did to make ESL a special place.
We had one final practice in the space and even filmed a small video. But don’t fret, LockUnity found a new home for our weekly practices at Diss Torsion starting in January.
So 2018 marked 20 years of dancing for me. Early in my career I had dreamed of one day dancing at big events like the Bboy Summit, UK Champs, Battle of the Year, Freestyle Session and Juste Debout. By 2010 I had danced on all these stages and even won a few of those battles! But Juste Debout is a whole other beast. If you don’t know, it is probably one of the premiere street dance events in the world and takes place at Bercy stadium in Paris. There is something about being on that stage that motivates a dancer. For some, the energy from the 20,000+ attendees can be uplifting when they cheer for you. For others, it can be crippling, especially when that same 20,000+ crowd boos at you! In 2010 I entered JD with Trek and we made it to the semi-finals (despite experiencing the crowd booing). Since then, I was always determined to one day return to that stage. With the hip injury of 2016, it became less likely that I would ever have that chance again.
At the start of this year I asked Lady C, another prominent Canadian locker and all around amazing dancer, to enter with me. She was down to do it, but in the end I decided that doing it would risk further injury to my hip. Another big blow.
When we heard that there would be a qualification in Washington DC in December we decided we got to make this happen. Long story short, we won the qualification and will be heading to Paris in March to represent Canada in the finals!
The DC area itself is a great scene with a lot of potential. It was good building with local locker WuStyles about getting the scene to grow there. Once again we met up with lockers from the Bay Area including Lil B and the Bay Area Lady Lockers as well as the Beantown Lockers, Lockstatic, Junious and Future from Urban Artistry and many others. Special shoutout to another GroovMekanex member and GM founder, Esperonto. It was a pleasure to finally meet and get down with you!
Things came full circle this month, after what seemed like a roller coaster year of emotions. From the hope felt at the start of the year, to the frustration, anger, sadness and fear I felt when roadblocks were placed in my way. From the determination to overcome these challenges, to the joy of those victories I experienced and the gratitude I now feel for those who have supported me along the way. I now find myself back to this feeling of hope.
Hope that I will eventually overcome this injury and can conquer whatever battles (physical or emotional) that may lie ahead.
But also hope for the future of Locking in my city, in Canada and around the world. As you can see, if you have followed these annual reviews over the years, Locking is getting more popular every day and the gifts this dance has brought to my life and to those who work towards passing it on with love for the next generation is beyond expectation.
People dance for all different reasons. Early on in my dance career, pursuing dance was about having more self confidence (impressing the girls!) and getting better. Later on, it was about getting my name out there: first locally, then internationally. Then it was about winning and maintaining a certain reputation. It is here where I came to a realization that those reasons can be somewhat superficial, albeit important to me at the time. After all the experiences in my 20 years of dance, I have come to approach and appreciate dance in a whole new way. It’s a chance for me to express a part of my true self and to experience a feeling of being free, something we all seem to lose a bit of as we get older. Free from life’s responsibilities, inhibitions and doubts, dancing becomes a daily celebration of being alive, even for a brief amount of time. And most importantly, it is and has always been FUN!
2018, you kicked my ass. But I came out of it stronger, more motivated, grateful and a little bit wiser.
2019, time to do it all over again!