A few days back, a video went viral over the internet. It showed a group of cool boys taking the streets of Dhaka in a way we had never seen before. The video by Street X films of ‘Jalali Set’ featured a group of street dancers from ‘Street Dancers of Bangladesh Community’ - mostly teens and twenties- doing some awesome popping, b-boying, locking and other forms of street dance. It definitely made the cool times of winter much hotter! The video boasted approximately 1,85, 000 likes. Not just that. Various Facebook pages downloaded the video and re-uploaded it from their page. Even the re-uploads bagged in 60,000 to 80,000 views. Everybody applauded it. However, street dance has not always been this popular in Bangladesh. In fact, the earliest street dancers had to face a bit of a struggle to establish the scene.
Dancing always meant classical dance in this part of the world. Guys doing some breaking and popping to tunes was just not the norm. Most parents never wanted it. However, to pioneer anything, one has to strive against the tide. The first street dance crew in Bangladesh was Anonymous Crew who began their journey in 2011. Three guys, namely Tousif, Shaad and Pial, contemplated the idea of forming a hip hop/street dance crew. Soon Adnan and Rashad were found through social media and the first five members of ‘Anonymous Crew’ were finally together. However, in a few months Shaad and Pial left the crew and Swagata, Ismail and Olive joined the crew to create the main roster which shaped the b-boy and street dance scene in Bangladesh. Later on, the students of Anonymous Crew, Peyar and Abil joined in 2017. Swagata from Anonymous Crew who is also the founder and director of Street X Films said, “When I started dancing, I did not find any school or any place where I could learn hip hop. I had to learn by myself. I never thought I can make it this far where I'm right now.” This year, he also started taking dance classes at Green University. “It was a great opportunity for me to show and introduce this culture to people studying in a university. Recently I have opened a production house related to street dance because our media never gave priority to the hip hop dancers, so I decide to work for the dancers of our community. There are so many talented dancers in our country and they need to be portrayed in a good frame. We knew it will take time to establish this culture here and still a lot more things are left to be done to establish this culture properly. Because hip hop is about ‘each one, teach one’. So I still have a long way to go. One last thing I want to share is - dream big, think big," concluded Swagata. Within a couple of years, a few more street dance crews emerged in the capital city.
‘Blue Poppers’ was founded in 2013. Galib Khan and Hasin Ahbab Hridoy met at the university and they soon became friends for a common passion which was dance. Together, they founded the crew ‘Blue Poppers’. It began with only 2 people but in course of time, it crossed over 50 members! Currently, there are Hasin Ahbab Hridoy, Galib Khan, Iffat Rahman Hrid, Rahman Abdullah, Golam Rabbani Aryan, Ovi Pramanik, Ishtiaq Ahmed, Ahnaf Shahriar Nuan, Rasel, Mainur Rahman Masum, Toaha Umar and Abirul Islam (manager). In 2014, they won the competition known as ‘Dance to Bikroy.com tune & win Tk 1 lakh’. In 2015, Blue Poppers was awarded by Google in Devfest. In 2016, they performed in TEDxYouth@ISD. The same year, they were selected for the prestigious international hip-hop dance competition ‘World Hip Hop Championship’ and were the first from Bangladesh to be in the selection along with other participants from all around the world. Unfortunately, they did not get visa and could not go. In fact, the guys have been touring not just in Bangladesh but abroad as well for quite some time, representing Bangladeshi hip hop dance. Bboys Hridoy and Hrid went to Raipur, India to participate in a jam. Hridoy from Blue Poppers said, “I also got an offer for Nepal in October but the invitation was sent in an extremely short time and I could not prepare to go.” Recently he came back from Central India Cyphers in Jabalpur, India. He shared, “It was an amazing experience. All the big shots were there. Renowned dancers Popping C, Anto George and flying Maching came from Switzerland, Malaysia, etc. to judge the event. There was a workshop on December 1 and the main competition on December 2. I have to thank Prateek Modi for having me in their event.”
Between 2013 and 2014, The B-Bots crew also came to life. Tamal from B-Bots said, “Individually we were already practicing but from 30 May 2014, we officially started our journey.” They have also done a TVC recently. “We still face problems. Many people do not recognize street dancers and compare it with background dancers. It is a totally different art form,” said Tamal. Muntasir from B-Bots said, “My family told me there is no future in hip hop dance. I never gave up. Although they did not approve of it before, after seeing our success now they are much more positive and supportive.” Muntasir agreed with Tamal that there are still some problems in this scene. “The girls in our crew face lots of problems. Most of the events take place during the evening and so, in most cases, they do not get permission from their homes.” Currently, B-Bots has around 8 members. They also have a subcrew D-Warriors of 5 students whom they trained.
While crews such as Anonymous Crew, Blue Poppers, XDC, B-Bots, etc. were shaping up the scene in Dhaka, another one emerged in Chattogram. ‘O2 Street Dance Crew’ is the first hip hop and street dance crew in Chittagong. It consists of 16 members including 3founders, 3 co-founders and also a beat-boxer while the rest are members. Iftisham, Emon and Hasib founded this dance crew in 18 September, 2014. They are not only the first but the most popular one in Chattogram, doing their best to stir up the scene there. Even recently, they had an event on December 23 titled ‘Time to battle’ which was a group showdown of O2 Street Dance Crew (O2SDC). There were 4 teams (Mind Mirrors of O2sdc, Nightmares of O2sdc, Hypemakers of O2sdc and Soldiers of O2sdc) while the judges were Iftisham, Hasib, Emon and Beatboxer Azmain. “Our biggest struggle is to change people’s conservative mentality because they don’t know about hip hop,” said Iftisham from O2. “There was previously no support and we struggled to introduce this culture in Chattogram. But now it’s very positive. There is still a long way to go but we are getting positive feedback from people now.”
Something great about the street dance crews in Bangladesh is their unity. The brotherhood these guys (and some girls) possess is seldom seen elsewhere. In fact, most of the time they are doing more for the scene and the hip hop culture rather than thinking about themselves. Consequently they are united in almost everything they do. There is no jealousy or no feeling of race. For these guys, it’s more about being there for one another, regardless of the crew they belong to, for the greater good of street dance culture. With friendship and unity like this, we can be sure that these guys will surely soar higher and higher. Together, they are invincible.