South Africa, and particularly Cape Town, has always had a strong focus on the elements of hip hop that aren’t restricted to the MC. Cape Town consistently thrives when it comes to the art of break-dancing.
At the end of April, Eerste Rivier b-boy, Dmitri Nell – known as B-Boy Meaty, won the title at the South African Cypher of Red Bull’s BC One. In the finals, he was up against B-Boy Bashi from Joburg.
They were judged by a panel that included B-Boy Benny – who has represented South Africa in the world finals a few times. Benny’s fellow judges were Vouks, Neguine, The Curse and Ramone.
Although the competition was tough, Meaty, 29, emerged victorious.
He said: “Now that everything has settled, I feel like the moment is gone. Now, reality has set in. Before I won, the only thing that went through my head is that I need to practice. That’s it. And then I won.”
B-Boy Meaty’s story is one of perseverance.
He says: “There was a lot of pressure I put on myself. There were four occasions where I tried out for BC One and all those times, I lost in the first round.
“This time, I wanted to make sure and convince myself to get through the second round. Even if I lose, I just didn’t want to go out in the first round again. When I won, I was blown away. I didn’t know what to say.
“I just reflected on all the times that I lost. I realised I wasn’t prepared all those times. I accepted why I actually lost all those times. I was unprepared.”
This dancer, whose nickname is derived from his first name, has had a busy month since his win.
“This month was hectic because I rested,” he said. “I picked up an injury while dancing and didn’t want to sprain my muscle. I decided to rest. A lot has happened. My girlfriend came over – she’s from Australia – and I proposed to her. We’re still planning but we’re looking at the wedding, hopefully being next year.”
Before he ties the knot, there’s another commitment – he has to go up against representatives from other countries to see if he’s the best in the world.
He’s heading to Amsterdam in November to compete.
What does he think of the state of dance in South Africa? He says he is optimistic.
“There’s huge potential in this country. Two years ago, Benny and Toufeeq qualified and went to the Middle East for the African qualifier. They came in first and second place. That made a statement that says we’re not far behind the rest of the world.
“The scene is growing. The levels vary from city to city. Cape Town is very high on a competitive level. Not that the other cities are slacking but there isn’t as much intensity in other places as there is in Cape Town.”
There’s also the the gap between the number of women in the world of break-dancing.
“There are b-girls here and there,” Meaty said. “Which shouldn’t be the case. They should be everywhere. Maybe there are various factors that play into why there are more b-boys than b-girls. At the BC One prelims, there was a b-girl and I was proud to see her.
“I would love to see more b-girls in the scene.”
* B-Boy Meaty will represent South Africa at the Red Bull BC One finals in Amsterdam in November.