This is my 9th annual Year In Review blog post. Over the years I’ve had a chance to reflect on all the experiences I’ve had as a dancer. There have been ups and downs but being able to step back and look at the big picture, it’s clear I have been blessed a thousand times over!
Before heading into a new decade let’s take a look at what happened in 2019. Some months were significantly busier than others. Part of the reason being I was in the midst of a career change and ended up spending a lot of my time studying, working on projects and eventually applying for a job. I wrote a separate story all about this which I will share soon. But for now, let’s start at the beginning!
The year started off very low key. Most of my time was spent studying and beginning to look for work. However, back in December Lady C and I entered Juste Debout USA and ended up winning! I spent a great deal of time training and getting in shape for the battle. It’s convenient having a home studio!
LockUnity also began hosting our weekly Locking practices at a new location: Diss Torsion studio.
During the weekly practices the idea was brought up to have monthly mini-battles. Melofunk organized several Rumble In The Lock battles throughout 2019 and they were quite the success. Each battle had a different concept and the winner of each battle would judge next month’s battle.
I took a couple days to head to Toronto for some secret trainings with Lady C. In 2 days we created the base for 4 routines we would use at Juste Debout.
At the end of the month I headed out to Paris a bit early because various members of Locking4Life were invited to teach at the Juste Debout School. I was honoured to be one of the invited teachers. Had a great time teaching in Paris for the first time.
During the week we also shot a short Get Down video with Gemini, Lee and Priska.
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HIT IT & QUIT IT “You steppin’ with 007 Better make it snappy No time to do your hair baby Brothers are bustin’ at me” One of my get down solos from the latest @locking4life video: Let The Rhythm Hit ‘Em Filmed in Paris, France March 2019 Video by @priska42 #locking #locking4life #locking4lifecanada #scramblelock #getdown #airstab #lettherhythmhitem #paris #france
Here’s where things ramp up! The month started in Paris, teaching at the Juste Debout School. The main JD event was March 2 so before that I spent some time with Lady C finalizing our routines. There is a great space in Paris where many dancers go to practice for FREE called Centquatre. Certainly an interesting space to check out if you ever visit Paris!
The main Juste Debout event was incredible. Being back after 10 years a lot had changed. The event has grown, the organization was better and it was nice to see how they treated all the guest dancers well. Good food, free gear, nice hotel. Was very grateful for that. If anyone has ever been to Bercy stadium then you know how big and intimidating dancing on that stage can be. With thousands of people in attendance, you really have to make a good impression.
Having Lady C by my side kept me calm and relaxed and I felt great dancing on that stage. We did our best and actually made it to the semi finals! I made it to the semis 10 years ago and to do it again felt good, especially knowing physically I’m 10 years older and with a messed up hip.
What was most humbling however was seeing Tony Gogo enter the battle…AND WIN! He is the first OG locker to enter a modern locking competition and win. He gets all my respect for that!
So Juste Debout was a success but I had a whole month planned of travelling around Europe. So after JD I took the Eurostar high speed train to London for a few days. There I had a chance to explore the city and spend some time with my friends Inga, Pete and other members of The Locksmiths. They hosted a fun get-down party and I was able to teach a workshop too.
Travelling to Europe in March is nice because I get to avoid the tail end of winter back in Canada. However, I was invited by Magnus, a locker in Oslo, Norway to come to his city and teach. Despite the cold weather and snow, Oslo was a very pretty city to visit and I had a great time sharing with the students at Subsdans studio.
After Oslo I was off to Nicosia, Cyprus for 2 weeks. Sunshine, Mediterranean food and good vibes while training and working on some projects with the big bro Gemini. Got to meet the army of lockers in Cyprus, led by Maestro, the owner of Rebel Dancers Academy. There are so many hungry lockers there and it was great being able to build with the new generation. On a personal level, G helped me with certain aspects of my own dance. The tools he shared with me basically changed the way I approach the dance today. Forever grateful!
While there I also taught a workshop and judged 2 events.
Fresh off the Jedi training in Cyprus I headed back to Paris for the Next Urban Legend event, organized by Loic. I was an invited guest judge and a lot of the new generation lockers of France entered. It was super cool to see Gemini enter the battle and take the win. I hadn’t seen him battle live before but, like Tony Gogo, he continues to stay relevant in the scene and still represents.
I had a few days to hang around and explore Paris before heading to Marseille with Funky J to teach and enter a locking battle as well. The south of France is spectacular and it was a pleasure hanging out with friends there. It was a perfect way to cap off the month-long tour.
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BATTLE BANG Marseille, France A nice way to end the Europe tour with a trip to the south of France, where the sun is always shining! Taught a workshop and was a battle guest. Winning the battle was cool, met some new lockers from around France. Shoutout to @benbrothersfrance for all their great work and inviting me to be part of their event. And @julia.funkyj for all her judging work this weekend. Special shoutout to @hamdicapey for the ‘salsa slap’! #locking #locking4life #locking4lifefrance #battlebang #benbrothers #marseille #france
Back in Montreal the new season started off with Vis Ta Danse. It was a hype event that took place in an old church. The vibe was epic and I made it to the semis battling some hungry up-and-coming dancers in the scene.
During 2019 I did not teach any regular classes but I was asked to teach at L’Academie de Danse de Montreal in St. Leonard some workshops. I was able to provide some extensive training to two groups of young dancers, just so they could get some exposure to the fundamentals of locking. Nothing more rewarding to see young kids learning locking and being excited to dance in class. I was able to show them a lot!
The month was filled with a bunch of performances. LockUnity presented a new piece at both the Break City year end show as well as Hot Mess waacking battle. We got down to On The Come Up, the hot collaboration track between Mofak & Temu.
Leah McFly held a final Chocolate Jungle event before moving to Vancouver. Been dancing there for over 6 years and have always had a blast at those parties.
Near the end of the month I performed with all the wonderful students at Joseph Charbonneau school for Lazy Legz’s JC Styles crew.
Finally the month ended with a pretty exciting gig in Ottawa, hooked up by Lazy Legz. Myself and a few other dancers performed at the World Summit, where the Prime Minister was in attendance!
Summer in Montreal is outdoor festival season. The first event of the summer happened during the Mural Festival. Cloud Cypher, organized by Clean Fresh Air crew and sponsored by Red Bull had a 1vs1 locking battle and brought in a bunch of out of town lockers.
LockUnity also performed at the Urban Element year end show. We presented a new piece called “Hot Sauce”, choreographed by Melofunk. Urban Element has been a beacon for street dance in Montreal for over 15 years. Many of the lockers of Montreal had their start at Urban. It’s always a pleasure to dance in the Urban shows.
Aba N Preach are a popular comedy duo from Montreal. They post a lot of commentary videos online, but have their roots in the street dance scene and have hosted many events in the city over the years. This year they were approached by Just For Laughs and were given a special headline spot. They wanted to bring a spotlight to the local dancers and set up the return of the Montreal Swing Riot. This time on a big stage in front of hundreds of people!
I was invited to be part of the street dance team and got down with my homies Boombeast and Treklock.
People always ask me where to find good music for locking. No matter who asks I always direct them to Wefunk Radio. Active since 1996 and hosting weekly shows on CKUT radio station, Wefunk has a library of archived shows and have built a worldwide following. In July Wefunk celebrated its 1000th show. It was exciting to be in the studio with some other Montreal DJs, artists and music lovers to celebrate the momentous occasion.
Probably the second busiest month for me this year was August. I judged 2 battles, participated in one and organized another. All at the same time as looking for a job as a web developer. Not everyone can dance full time and some of us have to balance an outside career in order to pay the bills. As mentioned earlier I quit my job as a school teacher last year to learn how to code. A year to the date I quit, I landed my first job. The whole journey was outlined in a blog article I wrote here.
In terms of dance, I judged the locking battle at Under Pressure, another long-running event in Montreal that brings together dancers, graffiti artists, MCs and DJs. Congrats to Dizzylock for taking the win in the finals against Kenini.
In Toronto, Red Bull organized a qualifier event called Dance Your Style which featured dancers of all styles coming together to battle to represent Canada in the finals later that year in Paris. I was honoured to be an invited guest among some really amazing Canadian talent. Big congrats to Lady C as she was on fire that night and took the win! LockUnity in the house!
Back in Montreal Spicey organized a battle in collaboration with the Festival Mode & Design, a festival centred around fashion. This year Locking was included and it was a great chance for people to learn more about locking. The theme this year was “stripes” so you know the lockers came correct! Congrats to Treklock for a great battle against Waldo, a battle specialist in the city.
To cap off a jam-packed month, LockUnity hosted the 3rd edition of Unlock The Funk. This year we brought two battle guests from Brazil: Vitor & Darlita as well as Lady C as our guest judge. We had an amazing preparty at Club Pelicano where Tupi Collective provided a night full of Brazilian Funk and Soul. We had dancers from the USA, China, Japan, France and other Canadian cities come to participate in the battle. There were some awesome showcases and we also gave awards to the Shakka Brothers: one of the first lockers in Montreal, as well as the Toronto Lockers for their great community work they have been doing. It was probably the most exciting editions to date. However, it was also the most stressful. I’m not going to get into any details, but the team decided to take a break from the event for the time being and felt it was a good time to do so since we ended on such a high note. A big thanks to the Canada Arts Council for their support of Unlock The Funk and locking in Canada over the past three years.
After a crazy Spring and Summer the Fall started off a little more relaxed. Vitor and Darlita stayed an extra week in Montreal and we had plenty of chances to dance, chill and learn more about the Brazilian scene.
Probably the highlight of the month was heading to Tokyo with Lady C for a big event called Super Strong Style. My good friend Kenji organized it and I had judged 2 of his previous editions in the past. This year we were invited as battle guests. It was a whirlwind trip and battling while experiencing jet lag is not easy. But we ended up winning and we were quite happy about that! Also got to hangout with my buddy Yaobai and finally got to meet Hiro, a legendary old school Japanese locker from Spartanic Rockers.
Lady C and I taught a workshop together too.
Thanks again Kenji and the whole Strong Style team. Japan is one of my favourite places to visit.
Back in Canada, I was invited to judge this year’s edition of Crystallized in Toronto as well as teach a workshop. The event, organized by Keylock and his team, brings together lockers, waackers and hustle dancers. One of my favourite events of the year. This year Riot from the Hood Lockers was the invited battle guest and he did great. It was so nice getting to talk and get down with him in the circles too!
The following week I judged the locking battle at Can I Get A Soul Clap. Great final battle between Jonny Quest and Boogie Bonez. Jonny took the win for the first time in MTL. Congrats!
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GIVE IT UP OOOOOO! Can I Get A Soul Clap 2019 Locking judge demo Video by @stanceelements Judge demos are not easy. Definitely a work in progress but focusing more on taking my time and letting the music marinate! #locking #locking4life #lockunity #locking4lifecanada #canigetasoulclap #judgedemo #dancingsince98 #enchantment #giveitup #funktreal
Finally the month ended with a fun exhibition battle at Makossa Hustle. The event was organized by Bboyizm. Lady C and I were invited to battle Jonny Quest and Keylock. It was fun being able to battle two dancers both Lady C and I have taught and helped develop over the years.
A comparatively quiet month. Most of the month was spent getting some other projects done, training, and planning for the new year.
I did take a short trip to Mexico City though. This was my first time visiting and I went for Ruby Jane’s birthday. But I did have a chance to meet up with Balock and IJ Lock and we got down together in a club one night. Mexico City is a beautiful city. Hope to be back there again soon!
The final month of the decade! To cap off the year I was responsible for putting together a Locking4Life tribute video. This one featured the late, great Skeeter Rabbit of the Electric Boogaloos. Only met Skeet once back in 2004 but he was one of the most influential in my early years as a locker. His videos on NuStudios taught me the basics of locking.
And there you have it folks! Another year in the life of a locker. So much happens, you really don’t realize it until you sit down to reflect on it all. But now it’s time to look towards the year ahead. We never know what the future may hold, but I already have a few trips lined up and a whole list of personal projects and goals I hope to accomplish. In 10 years locking in Canada (and around the world) has grown so much. It’s been challenging at times, especially when it seemed like the dance was not so popular. But being able to travel and meet lockers from all around the world, I realized we all face similar challenges. The dance is strongest when lockers can unite to build within their community. I have every intention to keep building in the scene and contribute to it’s continual growth in the next decade. Enjoy the remaining holidays and may the 2020’s be funkier than a mosquito’s tweeter! Keep the funk alive!