IF you have a career in the arts be prepared to have your perseverance tried and tested. Be it financial sponsorship, employment, or just making the cut – challenges are never short in this industry.

The 031 Floor Assassins, Durban’s popular b-boy dance group, learned a great lesson in perseverance on the eve of their departure to an international battle on Reunion Island, where they represented South Africa.

And after the drama of nearly not getting to their destination, they triumphed by adding another international win to their collection.

So interesting was the story that Tonight caught up with Byron “Bizzo” Tifflin from the crew to find out more. Listening to how it unfolded was like watching a modern dance film – all that was missing was my popcorn and Coke.

“We were invited by an organisation called Soul City Association, which hosts the Battle de L’ouest 2012 Indian Ocean Tour on Reunion Island, to participate because of the recognition we have been getting over the past year or so. We were scheduled to leave for Reunion Island on November 12, to compete and represent our country in the international battle.

“We got all our paperwork in order seven days prior to departure and all that was left was to get our visas and then we were off. The day we got our paperwork, however, was the same day the French Consulate in Durban – which could help us send our documents through to Joburg – closed. They would only reopen a week-and-a-half later. By then it would have been too late,” explained Tifflin.

After calling on everyone they could think of, no one could help the crew. The organisation was kind enough to rebook their flights and buy them more time, but the pressure was on.

After going to Joburg to plead their case at the Embassy, with only enough money for a one-way trip, the crew packed for the “just-in-case” trip to Reunion Island and ran around Joburg, bags in tow, to try to get their documentation in order.

After filing the documentation, they found a place to stay in Joburg while they waited for a decision. A day-and-a-half later it came through in their favour.

Tifflin said: “We didn’t have much practice time left and were due to land on the island on the eve of the battle.

“The battles were really tough and we eventually made it to the semi-finals.

“There was a tie and each crew had to send one guy out on behalf of his crew. My bro’ Kayzo stepped up to the challenge and did really well – well enough to see us through to the finals, where we would face one of Reunion Islands top crews.

“Never did we imagine we would make it this far, and now we were one victory away from being the new champions.

“The stage was set, the adrenalin pumping, and there were only two things on my mind: 1: We have to win, and 2: I’m really hungry.

“The music started and the war was on. It was a really close battle, with each crew responding well to each other, and after a 15-minute final the battle was over. All our hard work boiled down to the decision of the three judges.

“Hearts beating in a room that fell silent except for the voice of the MC saying something in French… in a unanimous decision we, the 031 Floor Assassins were crowned the new champions for 2012…

“As I sit here it still feels a bit unreal to me,” said Tifflin, contemplating their title.

“I’d like to thank everybody who took the time out to help us – the Soul City Association who made us feel like family, my mother and Kayzo’s father, and my crew for battling really hard – we left our all on that floor.”

“The drive is our passion and love for what we do. It’s crazy and very difficult sometimes, but somehow we just keep pushing.

“There is very little money and very little opportunity here in Durban, but we try to make the most of every chance we get, whether we are performing or competing.”