This latest installment of our Red Bull series is taking a different turn with the 2021 season of Dance Your Style. Red Bull Dance Your Style is an elite competition that brings together the region’s best dancers to battle one on one against a spontaneous soundtrack, and Atlanta was the latest stop on the competition trail which will conclude with the Nationals in Washington, DC at the end of this month. I’ve lived in Georgia now for the past ten years, frequenting the electric city of ATL quite often, and I must admit that before this past week I knew very little about the underground dancing scene here in the A.
Discovering The Atlanta Street Dancing Scene With Red Bull
Obviously, Atlanta’s music scene is heavily documented with many of the biggest acts from the 1990s, 2000s, and 2010s experiencing massive success on the charts with the south creating many defining musical trends and sounds (especially in this past decade). However, the A has also played a heavy yet underrated role in developing many dance trends and styles both mainstream and underground.
This is something that piqued my curiosity, and honestly, I felt a little embarrassed as a decade-long Georgia/ATLien not knowing these things right off the bat. That said, it’s never too late to learn, and since there are probably people reading this article that aren’t too familiar with the history either, let’s learn a little more together.
I first spoke to the veteran dancer and Atlanta local Don Soup. Soup has been dancing professionally for about six years getting his start in musicals before being introduced to the ATL freestyle community. Afterward, he began venturing into choreography and the entertainment industry before beginning to battle. Soup’s first real and recorded dance battle was about three years ago, and from there he has been expanding his dance knowledge in different styles, cultures, and history. I asked Soup his perspective on the Atlanta dance scene.
“I moved to Atlanta about six or seven years ago and I was introduced to this style of dance after I graduated. There are two major dance styles were—Yeek and Ticking. The underground club scene would mostly have house music playing, and a lot of the battles were in clubs eventually making their way to outside events.
As far as the current dance scene here—I would say TikTok is a big influence, along with the dance styles Flexin and Popping. The big music market goes hand-in-hand with these dance moves which are groovy, spiritual, and sweet.”
I next spoke with another veteran dancer named Cleo aka Cleo vs Everybody. Over the past, 12 years Cleo has had the pleasure of meeting, dancing with, and learning from many dancers. Every exchange on and off the dance floor has had an influence on her dance style and outlook about dance, and most of her dance career has been spent competing and coordinating local jams in Atlanta.
Cleo really enjoys being a mainstay of the Atlanta Dance Scene and is always ecstatic to welcome dancers that she’s met at out-of-state competitions. Cleo and I spoke about her intro to dance, and how she personally experiences ATL dance.
“My intro to dance came through the B-Boy community, and I would say over the past eight years dancing here has transitioned into popping and trend dancing. Animation dance is a trend darling, and the scene is overall a lot younger now. I’m one of the last of the cast!
The biggest transitions have been from old-school to dubstep, and now of course Trap music. We are seeing non-traditional dances fused into different styles. Flexin, which is from New York, has come over, and so has Popping, Locking, and House which are being fused together. People are also open more to different styles now. Those are a few of the things that I’ve personally seen.”
In addition to chatting with Soup and Cleo, I also hit the Atlanta streets asking some native dancers that weren’t competing in the event their thoughts on how dancing has evolved here, one of whom took us through an in-depth history of the Yeek style.
“Basically Atlanta has a dedicated style called Yeekn which came out in the 1980s right after Popping. I’m not which part it came from, but it started at skating rinks, parties, etc. Popping came here in the 80s as well, but it really hit hard in the mid to late 1990s and early 2000s with the success of a dancer out of Georgia named Mike Watson. Krump came to the A during the Rise Movement, but our main style will always be Yeekn which comes from HBCU schools like Clark Atlanta, Morehouse, and Spelman. Memphis has Jookin, Cali has Krump, and we have Yeekn.
If you ever come to Atlanta please visit the skating rinks. Go to the skate town on Old National if you ever want to see that true authentic ATL dancing, you are going to see it right here in downtown Atlanta in the skating rinks.”
So there you have it, make sure you check out the skating rinks in Atlanta. In the meantime here’s a quick recap of the ATL event.
On Thursday, October 7th, the premiere one-on-one street dance competition, Red Bull Dance Your Style continued its 2021 iteration with its Atlanta debut and crowned De’Wayne “Prince Wayne” Martin Jr. as the regional winner.
The evening brought together the region's top dancers at Believe Music Hall. Following 16 rounds of electrifying 1:1 battles, the energetic crowd voted Prince Wayne as the winner of the Red Bull Dance Your Style Atlanta qualifier. He will head to the U.S. Red Bull Dance Your Style National Finals taking place in Washington, D.C from Friday, October 22 through Saturday, October 23.
De’Wayne “Prince Wayne” Martin Jr. has been dancing his whole life but only began battling four years ago. Boasting a diverse repertoire of dance styles from hip-hop to ballet and Krumping to jazz, Prince Wayne is on a journey to turn his passion into his profession.
Be sure to check out the U.S. Red Bull Dance Your Style National Finals taking place in Washington, D.C from Friday, October 22 through Saturday, October 23.