Seeing Dubai through the eyes of the UAE breakdancing champion
What’s On teams up with Hype to meet one of the stars of breakdancing in Dubai. B-Boy Peppa is the UAE breakdancing champion and teaches it in Dubai.
Where are you from? Morocco.
When did you come to Dubai? In 2012.
What do you do here? I perform around Dubai at breakdancing shows, and I teach some private classes, too.
How long have you been breakdancing? I’ve been doing it since 2007.
What prompted you to start? It all started when I saw the breakdancing movie You Got Served. I was so impressed by all the B-Boys in the movie, and I decided to start dancing that way. I started off by copying moves I saw in the movie and it all escalated from there.
Where does the name B-Boy Peppa come from? Back in Morocco, the word for pipe is ‘peppa’. I used to bring mine to practice and have lots of smoking breaks. I used it so much that people started calling me Peppa.
How does the scene in Dubai compare to Morocco? In Morocco, they train hard and with passion but there aren’t any professional places for breaking. In Dubai there are plenty of professional studios and places to train.
As well as dancing solo, you’re also a member of a Moroccan breakers crew. Yeah, I was taking part in a competition and they were obviously impressed because they approached me and asked if I had a team. I said no and they asked me if I wanted to join theirs. It’s called La Halla Kingzoo. Having a team is like having brothers and family around to support you and back you up when needed, but playing also solo has its own beauty.
You won a competition to represent the UAE in the Red Bull BC One this year. Tell us about that. Red Bull BC One is the most important one-on-one B-Boy competition in the world. Every year, thousands of dancers across the globe vie for a chance to get to the World Final. Everyone’s welcome to compete in the qualifying battles. Throughout the year, more than 90 country and city ‘cyphers’ are held all over the world to find the best B-Boys dancing today. The winners then compete in six finals – Western Europe, Eastern Europe, North America, Latin America, Middle East & Africa and Asia Pacific. The six winners earn a place to compete on the stage of the World Final, along with the reigning champion and a selection of wild card entries. We’re all judged on our artistic skills, choreography, innovation and character. The one-on-one battles let us show off our skills, and also our overall style and individual expression.
How many competitors were there in the UAE qualifier? There were 16 B-Boys, including me, battling it out on the stage. It was a tight competition, and I loved it because I had to give it my best shot. You can’t really describe the feeling when you win an important competition like this, but I was certainly very excited and happy. The prize was a custom medal, and I’ll be representing the UAE at the regional finals.
How does it feel to be representing the UAE? I’m so excited about it, and looking forward to it. The Middle East & Africa final will be in Algeria and I’ll be facing the best B-Boys in the region. If I win, I’ll get the chance to compete at the Red Bull BC One World Final in Paris, and face-off against the top dancers in the world.
Wow. Good luck with that. Is the breakdancing scene in Dubai growing? Breakdancing is definitely growing here, and the competitions are getting tougher and tougher.
What style of music do you prefer to perform to? I listen to a lot of funky music or breakbeat, and a lot of James Brown.
How often do you train? Three days a week.
Have you ever injured yourself? Yes, I used to do that a lot, and I’ve recently injured my elbow and my shoulder.
What, in your opinion, is the most difficult breakdancing move? The most difficult move is called the one-handed airflare to airshare. It’s pretty complicated.
On average, how long does it take to learn a new move? It depends on the move, really, but it can take anything from two months to a year. A year is the longest I’ve ever taken to master a move, and that’s for the most difficult ones.
Which breakers do you most admire? Kid David, Neguin and B-Boy Casper.
First impressions of Dubai? I first came here in the month of June and it was pretty calm, but in October it went crazy and I enjoyed the city a lot more after that.
Favourite place to eat in Dubai? Zaatar W Zeit and Man’oushe Street are my favourite places because I love Lebanese food. It’s delicious.
Favourite place to catch up with friends? I love Barasti and XL Beach Club.
Favourite club or music event in Dubai? Either VIP Room or Music Room.
Favourite international DJ or band? DJ Lord and DJ Lean Rock.
What do you do when you need some ‘me’ time? I go skateboarding or skiing.
How would you sell Dubai to someone who has never visited the city? Dubai is a place that you have to visit and explore. It has its own taste and flavour.
What’s the secret to success here? Training hard and giving more than what is needed.
Peppa competes in the Middle East & Africa Final of the Red Bull BC One battle on September 26. facebook.com/BboyPeppa