Exeter might be best known as the home of avocado toast and students toting Snow Sports stash, fresh from the slopes of Whistler to read Classics and ride their ponies across Dartmoor. But it’s also home to Just4Funk, the biggest breakdance crew in the Southwest, who compete in battles from London to Tokyo and have been backing the university’s own Breakdance Society for over a decade.
Here are six things you need to know about the street cred you never knew Exeter had.
The Breakdance Society has been around for over a decade, since it was first founded in 2002. Many students throughout the years have become members of Just4Funk, Exeter’s homegrown breakdance crew, who have performed on stages at Glastonbury, Sadlers Wells Theatre and Strictly Come Dancing. Their commitment to promoting the Southwest’s hip-hop scene has maintained a small but talented gang of poppers, lockers and breakers at Exeter, who sneakily take over the dance floor at Rosies and Monkey Suit every once in a while.
Most B-Girl’s jeans have holes at the knees. This is not, as you might think, the result of buying the cool tattered ones from Top Shop, but the wear and tear of training. The up side is that being a B-Girl, as female breakdancers are known, is the perfect excuse to turn up at Unit 1 in a comfy hoodie and converses, ready to rock the dance floor.
The B-Girl names
Forget the Hugos and Henrys of Exetah. Before making their debut at their first breakdance battle, every B-Boy or B-Girl will be given a unique name by their crew. Think of it as the cool and crazy pseudonyms rappers use for their alter-egos. I’m friends with a SugarRush, Rickoshea and WillRock, to name just a few.
The movie nights
While most girls at Exeter will grab the popcorn and curl up in front of the latest film featuring Ryan Gosling, B-Girls do things a little differently. The breakdance scene plays host to huge international championships featuring the top talent worldwide. There’s R16 in Seoul, Korea, Chelles Battle Pro in France and the Notorious IBE in Amsterdam, among many others. All these competitions are streamed live, and seeing the battles go down is far more hype than watching your BF’s favourite rugby team.
The (free) travel
It will come as no surprise that sports stars like Roger Federer and Mo Farah will have their expenses paid when they head overseas to represent their home country. Thanks to the generosity of arts grants from the local council, several of Exeter’s best breakdancers have found themselves flying for free when they jetted to the likes of Singapore and Japan to represent the UK. And if you’re not quite at that level yet, the tight-knit worldwide community of B-Boys and B-Girls means you’ll always have a fellow dancer’s couch to crash on when needed.
In the UK, hip-hop culture is often seen as something that belongs primarily in America, where the art form was first born. If we have a handful of home-grown rappers, they rarely hail from outside London. But since its humble beginning in the streets of the Bronx, NYC, breakdance has spread worldwide. It’s never a surprise to see a student from Hong Kong or Madrid turn up at a dance class, and there are as many girls as guys in Exeter’s Breakdance Society, in addition to a strong history of female presidents. If you come with your own energy and attitude, the dance floor is open to all. And breakdance may its purest form – all you need is a beat and some trainers to keep the spirit of hip-hop rocking on.
HCX hopes you can all find some time to explore Exeter’s previously unknown street-cred this year, and what better way to do that, than with break-dancing!