RYUGI INTERVIEWS EPISODE 6
Q. Please introduce yourself
My name is Don Napalan aka Bboy Don representing SKB crew from Mount Druitt Australia and also my dance studio Street Beatz Hip Hop in Wollongong.
Q. How did you meet breaking? How did you get into it?
The first time I saw real Breaking was on tv around 1999/2000. I was watching Channel V and they had a segment where they had 2 bboys from the U.S. doing a showcase. These 2 bboys were Lil’ Cesar and Will Power from Air Force Crew. I quickly grabbed a video tape and started recording it with complete disregard of whatever was on the tape (probably Wrestling). I was amazed at what I saw and was completely intrigued by what they were doing. I tried to copy everything they did and shortly after that I was on the hunt for more music videos with Breaking in it. I waited every Saturday ready with my videotape in hopes of seeing some breaking in one of the music clips.
It was March 2000 that I really started to practice breaking after seeing “It’s Like That” by RUN DMC & Jason Nevins and also “Freestyler” by Bomfunk MC’s. Later that year, I became a part of my crew and this is what really ignited my passion for breaking.
*What was your inspiration?
My inspiration was definitely Lil’ Cesar and Will Power at first and as I got into breaking some more, I discovered more bboys that was so influential in the way I dance. Bboy Remind from Style Elements crew was and still is my favourite bboy of all time. So original and so refreshing. Poe One who is in the same crew also inspired me in how smooth he moved. Bboy Machine must have had the biggest impact in giving my dance direction with his musicality and flava. Other than these bboys, my crew/friends trained hard with me and also want to mention a bboy from the western suburbs named Israel from DMK who showed me that breaking wasn’t just about being amazing on the floor with your moves but having so much style really has the biggest impact.
* Please tell us about your crew
I was the first recruit of my crew SKB Street Kulture Breakers (sounded cool at the time haha) which was made by 2 guys Chup and Alterry aka King Derry. Chup had a shirt from a shop called Best & Less that had “Street Culture” written on it and thus they made a crew called Street Kulture Bboys (later changed to Street Kulture Breakers). I was chucking a pee at the toilets with the door open and Derry walks up behind me and asks” Hey Don, do you wanna be a part of our breaking crew called SKB?” I said yea then my younger bro got rectuited afterwards then it grew to a crew with 28+ members.
We used to go around battling other breaking crew in different suburbs, different schools and different PCYC’s. This were the best times for us as at the time, battling was proper where it was move for move and responses. All battles started with footwork which we referred to as ‘Style’ and progressed to tricks then freezes then powermoves then eventually got to a level where we had to bring it back to style. BEST TIMES!
*What is your achievement?
I’ve been dancing for 20 years now and have achieved a number of titles on my own and definitely with my crew.
In terms of my solo dancing, I was the first Dance Alive Australia Champion, ALL IN Footwork Champion 2010 and represent Australia in Japan in 2010. I was also the first Bboy to make it to the Top20 of So You Think You Can Dance Australia. As for my crew, we were the 2007 Australian Bboy Champs and also won R16 Oceania 3 years in a row (2012/2013/2014) to represent Australia in Taiwan and Korea.
*What is your unforgettable battle?
The most unforgettable battle for me was our semi-final battle against Fresh Sox in the 2007 Australian Bboy Champs in Melbourne. They were the best crew and we lost to them 2-3 years in a row. We met them in the semis that year which went to a tie-breaker and I went out to win that tie breaker. We then went on to win the finals to become the Australian Bboy Champs that year. I guess this counts as the most unforgettable battle for me individually and as a crew.
*How has Sydney Breaking scene been changed since when you started?
The breaking has changed a whole lot since I started breaking. The things we used to see and do then doesn’t really exist or happen anymore. The first things that come to mind would be the number of crews then and now. Back then (early 2000), you had to belong to a crew. If you didn’t have a crew, you were asked to be in one or you just weren’t good enough to be asked to be in one.
There were so many crews and there were barely any comps. It was all about finding out what crews there were and what area or school they were from and calling them out to battle somewhere. No prizes, no judges and no time limit. The winner was pretty much determined by either how many moves you had or which ever crew had the guys with unbeatable moves. We won all our battles as far as I remember except for one when our whole crew (15+ members) went up against 4 Nervous BreakDown members (Ben, Empire, Vinnie, and Dyce) and we got smoked.
In terms of comps and battles, it used to be move for move and there was an order of how you battled. Every battle started with footwork (referred to then as style), then tricks, then freezes, then someone would start the power battles and just went on until both crews can’t match each other anymore or ran out of moves. Nowadays, there’s a criteria you have to follow and you have to be very well rounded.
To put it simply, back then was all about being a specialist and now you must be good at everything. Originality vs Be Hectic.
Those days were awesome but now the level is so crazy that it pushes me to not only level up, but to also think of ways to match this generation but still stay fresh. That’s the goal anyways.
*What do you do for a living?
Currently, I am blessed to be able to run a Hip Hop dance studio full time called Street Beatz Hip Hop down south in Wollongong with my wife. We teach Breaking, Hip Hop, Popping and Locking. I’m an Airconditioning Technician by trade and worked in retail previously.
*What is your next project?
At the moment, just teaching and mentoring the next generation is the goal. No project really just a goal to battle more and get better.
*Message to new gen bboys and bgirls
A few things:-
Practice POWER and TRICKS. Don’t be boring.
Break Faster and stop breaking like your doing a tutorial!
Do what makes sense to you.
Bring and use Deodorant. No use doing any of the above when you smell like butthole.