Vibrations of break dancers paint pictures in the flesh as bodies in motion cut the air to feed the creative mind and dance an untamed art plagiarizing the expressions of the artists’ mind with movements. Break beats fill the streets as muscular rhythm holds strong on repeat, to the beat of their own rhythm connecting all that is real by acknowledging and fine tuning that which they feel. If you blink more than twice you’ve missed the masterpiece, yet the movements are held long enough to convey a complete expression that one could carry with them in thought. These freestyle artist’s know no boundaries when it comes to conventional society. They make their own rules by defying gravity and offering a bond for all humanity to unite through an art form.

Freestyle hip-hop/break dancing is popping up everywhere. Movies and television have capitalized on the rise of this dance form for many years now. Giving people a commercialized over view of what goes on in the streets of the underground dance world. But this is nothing compared to seeing a real-live raw performance and having felt the energy created by the strategically uniform poses of the artists’ best work. After following this first hand on the steps of the Sacre Coure in Paris to Central Park in New York, I came across something that told a whole new story, a real story…A lifestyle of honor and respect!

In early August on Las Ramblas in heart of Barcelona, I found two crews that had come together as one. Poland’s ‘Nasa Crew’ and Barcelona’s ‘Fallen Angels’ came together drawing in crowds of two to three hundred people at a time per performance. There was a unified bond between these two crews that bled charisma and inspiration through out the crowd. After watching a few of their shows the first day, I went back the next couple days, watching each show as if it were my first. On the fourth day I went to find the crew that was no longer in their normal spot, instead I noticed a large crowd gathering in the middle of the busy street. Pushing my way to the front, I realized a real live street battle was beginning between an old ‘skool’ Belgium crew and Barcelona’s mixed crew. Apparently the Belgium crew was in town for the week and was looking to make money in the day by setting up shop a few yards away from Barcelona’s crew. Anyone who knows the way of the streets, the vows of respect to one another even outside your own crew, knew that this was a great sign of disrespect.

Barcelona’s crew decided they wouldn’t allow this to go down on their territory and that’s when it all began! The circle formed, the crowd grew and moves began to explode! The old skool versus the new skool provoked movements to a whole other level. A normal street performance from one of these crews would last fifteen minutes tops. So when the crews battled head to head for two hours, the cheering from the crowd became so loud, it drew the attention of authorities. This added more fuel to the fire in the hearts of the crews to come harder and longer with each combination. Bloody knees and shoulders seemed a small price to pay for the level of respect that would come from ending this battle in a victory.

The streets of Barcelona began to chant giving Barcelona’s crew their undying support and approval, as the yelling got louder Belgium’s crew began to lose their sportsmanship for the art. They began throwing out racist remarks in attempt to segregate and start a fight with Barcelona’s leader, Roberto a twenty year old from Africa. Roberto held his head high and let the remarks roll off him as he continued to battle with respect of and for the art. His crew backed him, stepping up and stepping in to alleviate the racial slurs and bring the battle back to the basics. Dancing for respect, dancing for space, dancing for rights! Belgium’s tactics began to work against them as the people in the streets grew louder and larger in love with Barcelona’s crew. Belgium’s crew couldn’t take that they were older and had been around longer but were being beat by a crew whose average age was twenty. Belgium’s crew began to push and shove into the faces of the Barcelona crew, within seconds the crowd got involved and the authorities stepped in putting an end to the battle before it broke out in a brawl. The Belgium crew got so much hatred for bringing disrespect into the artists’ streets they were shunned from the area by all.

After temperatures began to simmer down I introduced myself to the Barcelona crew to find out in depth the story behind the level of respect I had just seen. They invited me to hang with them for the rest of the day, to see first hand the life of a BBoy. While walking to their flat which was only minutes away by foot from where the battle took place, they explained that while they fine tuned their craft, their love, and their passion in front of hundreds hence being labeled “Street Performer’s.” A lot of them attended school and worked other jobs during off season. But during the tourist season, they would all meet up and live together in a place like the one they invited me to see.

Their home was a three bedroom, one bathroom apartment. Furniture for the most part was replaced with bunk beds to house the nine guys living there. They would all take turns cooking and cleaning. This bachelor pad was decorated with recently washed dance gear hanging in the windows to dry, elbow pads and helmets on the ground, and an assortment of the latest kicks being showcased in a subtle way. They shared how they got started by not growing up with money and how dance was a way to stay out of the dirty side of the streets while still gaining respect on the streets. From the moment they’d wake to the minute they slept, dance consumed them. Break dancing had to become a way of life for them with the level of mental and physical dedication and pressure to keep in tip top form to ensure their bodies would last. Their level of respect for the art grew with their dedication and appreciation of it and for it providing a better life for them.

When they are not dancing they are still watching the rhythm of the streets, the sounds and expressions that surround them so that they can capture it all in movements. Many of their new steps spawn from a thought or an experience while keeping every step in line with the respect and honor in the history behind dance. The BBoy movement has come a long way from the old skool beat boxes and card board lay outs; to the new skool sound systems and becoming acclimated to the marble or concrete floors. While the lifestyle of unconventional art continues to stay consistent defying conformity with the courage to recreate history through the expression of respect; this is the history that became their life!

This is why break dancers are “BBoys 4 Life!”

When resolving a conflict do you pack a punch or trade in your gloves in attempt to offer peace? I always knew I could pack a punch in an intellectual conversation that could leave someone’s head spinning, but thought I was conscious enough to know when I was doing it. I never did it intentionally to hurt anyone, but rather to make a much more clear or effective point. Hence justifying why I did it and in believing my justification, I allowed myself to bring my gloves whenever I thought it necessary. Seems crazy intimidating right? I thought it felt like a powerhouse stance to be able to pack a punch, a sort of unspoken self confidence that I could defend myself at all cost’s! Wow was I wrong!

Pretty much anyone can pack a punch in a conversation in order to win the outcome, either because what you said made them feel dumb, hurt the person so much they back off, or because it started getting ugly and they didn’t want to stay in the ring. I would think it’s fair to say we agree that no matter one’s intellectual capability they are capable of hurting another person verbally.

If we acknowledge this is true, then we must also acknowledge that it takes more personal discipline and self-awareness to offer peace then to duke it out. In acknowledging that I have come to believe it takes a true powerhouse in self-discipline to take off your gloves off and offer peace! To address something that has been bothering you via conversation is a powerful thing called communication. (Something we all know how to do) And if we have time to think about what we want to say and what we’re attempting to achieve/resolve in the conversation, we allow ourselves a chance to come up with a game plan that can feel non-threating to the other person and that’s great! But in those particular times when something happens spur of the moment and we don’t take the time to reflect on it before addressing it. It is very easy to talk more out of emotion then out of reason. It is easier to throw punches because we are hurt or angry, then it is to offer a real chance at reconciliation. These are the moments I am talking about, the moments where we get to swallow our own initial gut reaction and practice being extraordinary!

Trust me it’s going to take more than a handful of ‘passionate’ conversations to completely transform your initial gut reaction into an extraordinary response, but with practice comes results. Notice I said ‘results’ not ‘perfection!’ (I want to be clear about that because at the end of the day none of us are perfect and even with practice we’ll still have our flaws because we are human so instead strive to be the best version of yourself…ok back to the point) If we can stop ourselves from packing punches in just one conversation by simply taking a moment to gather our thoughts, breathe and think the big picture through before speaking, I know the conversation you were used to having (that you probably didn’t like) will turn into something a lot easier to swallow and eventually into a situation that gives you results because you are actually able to have a conversation without turning it into an argument.

When you change the way you have a conversation you will naturally begin to change the way you see things. To better explain this I will say there are two categories of people that ‘pack punches’. One is the person who allows themselves to say whatever they’re thinking without taking into consideration that the person they’re talking to has feelings. And the second type is the person who rarely starts an argument but always finishes them.

If the first type of person, took time to think about what they were going to say and why they wanted/needed to say it… And said it in a way that was non-threating, non-abusive, peaceful and with consideration of the other, they might find the other person will listen without being defensive, hence REALLY hearing what they are saying. Then this person will find themselves appreciating that the person they were talking too, took the time to not only listen to them but to truly hear what they were saying. They will see that the other person is not out to get them, but that they truly do care what he/she is saying and a shift will occur in the relationship.

The second type of person; if they refrained from ‘finishing’ the argument and allowed themselves to be quiet and let the other person complete their conversation, they may see that it doesn’t always end in an argument. And IF the person starting the conversation does it because they just like to argue and they see you are not buying into it, they may stop trying to get a rise out of you, hence not trying to fight. Lastly if they continue to start arguments and continue to have them whether you play into it or not, you may just realize that you don’t want that person around you because the way they act/speak to you doesn’t feel good.

See by taking ourselves out of the equation of being a ‘packing a punch’ type of person, what we are really doing is taking a stand for the new us. When we start to treat people like this regularly, we’ll find our self NOT putting up with those that do not treat us with the same respect we treat others with.

It’s funny communication seems so easy at first glance… Why? Because everyone can do it! But learning GOOD HABITS in my communicating with others is the part that challenges me and can set all of us apart when we decide to take on being and communicating in a way that is extraordinary!

Pardon me, but what I have to say is more important than what you’re saying! OUCH! Can you imagine someone saying this to you? Can you imagine saying this to someone else? Well isn’t that essentially what we’re saying when we interrupt? Makes you think twice about interrupting, huh?

I came to this beautiful, yet unsettling brutal reality of what ‘interrupting’ is actually saying to the person whose being interrupted! It gave me a WHOLE new perspective on waiting my turn to speak. If someone would have asked me two weeks ago if I was a good listener, my answer would have been, “YES!” Although in a recent conversation with someone I care about, they pointed out in a passionate conversation that I was interrupting them. I stopped myself and allowed them to finish before completing what I wanted to say. This situation kept popping back in my head for a few days and I began to wonder how often I interrupted people. So I actively became conscious of this and realized that I interrupted more often that I’d like to admit even now in my typing this! Haha That is the human part of me that I must embrace, but the super hero part of me that always challenges myself to be extraordinary is telling me not to erase what I’ve typed and own up to my bad habit with the real raw truth! So here it is…

I realized I can be rude and quite frankly a bad listener! Wow that was hard to type! It was also a blow to my ego when I initially realized it but once I got past that… I was faced with the reality that maybe I needed to apologize for my bad habit so that those around me could help me break it. So that’s what I did and no I didn’t send a memo out to my entire email list, publicize it on Facebook or tweet about it… because I realized it only involved a select group of people in my life. Interesting right? I realized that I actually was a great and courteous listener to strangers; I would allow them to speak and even finish their sentences before adding to the conversation. The only time I would interrupt is with those I care about most. Ok, admitting that part makes this an even more potentially embarrassing bad habit, but I did it! I owned up to it in its fullness and asked those closest to me to forgive me.

All is said and done now right? No, remember the super hero part of me that’s always challenging me to do more… Well it coaxed me into going a step further, where I asked those closest to me for a favor. I asked them to use a code word, which we decided would be the word “SHARE” and in the event of a passionate conversation or any time that I interrupted, they would simply say “SHARE” to me and that would let me know I was doing it again. And in turn I could take a moment to stop, laugh, apologize and let them speak. They agreed to use the code word to help me break my bad habit.
Ahhh a sigh of relief! Who knew personal growth could be exhausting! Haha

Once I did all that, I began to feel better about my personal listening skills because I managed to catch myself doing it before they even needed to say “SHARE” and I’d laugh and apologize and ask them to finish. This is all great and super wonderful…but as time went by, the more I pondered the idea of ‘interrupting’ all the sudden it occurred to me that act of ‘interrupting’ is actually more than just speaking over someone or cutting someone off. I realized, that what my interrupting was actually saying to the person I was interrupting, was probably being interpreted by them as something like this “she doesn’t think what I’m say is important enough to let me finish so she’s speaking over me” or “She doesn’t care what I have to say” …Once again I immediately felt horrible because while I took responsibility for my bad habit and asked forgiveness, all I asked for was to be forgiven for the act of interrupting, which is really only half of what I should have been forgiven for!

Since I figured this out, I simply had to address it, own up to it and apologize for it. It was the elephant in the room as far as I was concerned. So I did sort of a follow up apology, shared what I realized and asked forgiveness for making them feel like what they were saying wasn’t important enough to let them speak, or forgiveness for making them feel like I didn’t care what they were saying. I know it may seem crazy to some of you to apologize for the same thing twice, but owning up to your actions COMPLETELY is a powerful thing and it simply wasn’t complete until I apologized for the second part.

It was with my round two of apologies that I saw something truly special happen. The people I apologized too had a look come over their face, almost a sigh of relief because they realized in that moment that I truly understood the depth of what interrupting meant and how it was not only hurtful but misleading with the messages it conveyed. My COMPLETE apology allowed them to find peace in knowing this was not something I was going to let continue!

With my new found understanding of how interrupting someone conveys a deeper message to those we interrupt, I was able to immediately let go of the bad habit and focus on the message I DID want to convey to those around me. Which is “You are important!” and “I care about everything you have to say” That being said I, just like anyone else am not nor claim to be perfect, so for those moments that I may slip up I have the word “SHARE” to remind me to “SHARE” the conversation!

I hope this has been helpful to my readers, I have tried to remain transparent and raw with you in my own personal findings that in turn it may inspire others to realize that while it can be embarrassing to own up to our bad habits… we simply must in order to be the extraordinary super hero- I know you all can be!