Bounce Ballroom Put the “Dance” Back in Dance Music for RBMA NYC 2014

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Nothing could have actually prepared New York for the Red Bull Music Academy‘s first 2014 event in the city last night, Bounce Ballroom (not even this very nice preview video). Four dance styles native to New York and Jersey were on view at Brooklyn Bazaar with alternating DJs and crews, emphasizing actual DANCING more than the current trends of staring at the DJ or chilling in the background the whole time. While it may have seemed like a lofty goal for Red Bull—to celebrate the histories of these local dance styles and get everyone on their feet—it happened so perfectly, with people gathered in circles around various dancers, getting inspired, and cheering each other on.

To recap, Bounce Ballroom featured Bruk Up with Bobby Konders, Voguing/Ballroom with MikeQ, Housing/Waacking with Todd Terry, and Jersey club with DJ Sliink. This doesn’t mean that the music was hyper-specific to the dance styles themselves; there were songs for everyone at different points, and basically every genre got love (from deep house and reggae to Rihanna, Jay Z, and Soulja Boy).

Until MikeQ got on the decks for the Voguing portion, where about 10 dancers did solo and group performances on a central runway, those same professional dancers were a part of the crowd. My initial hesitation with this event was that I expected it to be all about professional (read: intimidating) dancing and dancers, but in fact, until the pros were on stage, you couldn’t really tell who was a name on the bill from a Brooklyn kid who just happened to have some moves. This speaks both to clever planning and the loose, communal nature of these dance styles that include a range of movement for experts and beginners alike. Bounce Ballroom was ultimately a welcoming, explosive party that reminded us of the real purpose of dancing and dance music—to have fun and come together without some needless agenda to be in the scene or even be “good” at dancing.

Here’s a short tour of Bounce Ballroom if you missed it.

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You walk in, and you see a space designed by Nuit Blanche New York that’s a pretty nice mix of a club and a warehouse space. People are gathered in a circle around a guy who can dance really well.

Then, you go to another dance circle and realize that some people really turned up on the outfit front.

Then, you encounter some dancers who are clearly professional and have 0% fat on their bodies.

Then, you see that same dancer on the floor in a position that’s so unbelievable you’ve stopped dancing along and just stand in awe/hope that the guy isn’t in any kind of pain.

Suddenly, we must be at the Bruk Up/Flexing portion, because there’s reggae and lots of hip action on stage.

You feel very envious that you’re not on stage OR able to dance on the floor with such grace.

And speaking of dancing on the floor, then Voguing happens on the aforementioned central runway. And suddenly dancing becomes all about how you flip your hands, sway your hips, and diva stare at any dancer trying to cross you.

Then the hair flipping and karate kicks come in, and this girl just throws herself on the ground constantly. You can’t believe your eyes.

I must learn to Vogue for the rest of my life, you say.

Then they start getting on stage together at various points, including during this very important Byrell the Great remix of “Boss Ass Bitch” x “Drunk in Love.” And clearly nothing was the same.

The night continues with DJ Sliink and Mike Gip for the Jersey Club portion, and the legendary Todd Terry for the Housing portion.

Check out the photos up above (and via Facebook) for those bits, and if last night was any indication, the remainder of Red Bull Music Academy NYC 2014 will be wild. Check out the schedule and buy tickets for the remaining events throughout May here.