RYUGI INTERVIEWS EPISODE 3 (1/2)
Q. Please introduce yourself
My name is Anthony Luis Lawang aka Tikoy Tuko Tuks/Lamaroc/Boogalama/Luv’n Lamaloo/FavSon. I come from Keilor Downs, Victoria born December the 3rd, 1983. As Lamaroc, I represent the Fresh Sox/7$/Mighty Zulu Kingz.
Q. What do you do for a living? Please tell us about your job.
I am a full-time artist. I pick up what jobs I can to fulfill my artistry and to a lesser-extent other jobs that I may not necessarily want to do, but do so to make ends meet financially.
I used to be a full-time video editor from 2001-2004. I created content for overseas television networks before a misunderstanding with my boss made it difficult to continue to work there. I then became a full-time dance instructor, teaching 12 lessons a week, at the very low rate of $40 per class ($480 p/w as opposed to $850 p/w as a Video Editor) because at the time I didn’t know any better. Industry standards for artists are usually $100 p/h but of course it depends on factors such their budget and the artist’s level and value.
I became a performing artist by means of physical theatre and was able to tour Australia and Brazil in the mid to late 2000’s that allowed me to take my craft to another level and where my mindset changed from being a b-boy to an “Artist”.
During that time and the onset of “adulting” (as people these days call it) that came with growing up, paying rent and bills, add in the onset of knee injuries etc, I eventually succumbed to working in a 9-5 in the Arts and Community
sectors as a Youth Program Coordinator. That was a good time for me to learn about what kind of money you could earn as an Artist wearing a different kind of hat. For a measly $35K (more than enough to live by my means) and working 50+ hrs (back then when there were no penalty rates) I learnt a lot about how Hiphop as a culture could be appropriated into an educational paradigm. I learnt a lot about the inner-workings of local and federal government, bureaucracy, politics and the nature of applying for funding and how that affected or helped arts in any given community. This gave me access to a massive network of people and an even larger platform to organize grassroots events because of the larger level of infrastructure that was available to me.
These days I’m more of a hermit, preferring to work alone in solace of a sacred space I’ve created in my home. Life didn’t quite pan out how I planned it and a massive plummet from the spotlight of battles, theatre and community happened in the ‘10s. As this decade ends, I’m slowly coming out again after a 3-year hiatus, and most likely will still be involved with dance under the capacity of coaching or support as opposed to being a pro-active member of the dance event community. I respect my art enough that I don’t necessarily want to use it again as a tool to make money but a tool in itself to continue to make art.
Q. When did you start breaking? And how did you get into it?
I used to catch glimpses of the Hiphop Art of Breaking on TV back in the day. I would see Breaking on old afternoon movie timeslots on channel 7 from the ‘80s, live acts of First and Second Generation b-boys from Sydney and Melbourne on the “Recovery” show on ABC on a Saturday morning and the “It’s Like That” remix by Jason Nevins Vs. Run DMC Music Video in ’97 that featured Kujo, Willpower, Asia One and Mr. Animation (RIP). By the time I started Breaking it was in November ’98, when my High School bulletin mentioned “Breakdance” lessons at YMCA McLeod in Victoria.
My first teacher was A1 from Wikid Force Crew for 4 weeks. After that, Cristiano “Duke” who was from Italy, assumed teaching duties and thereon in became my Main Teacher who taught me a lot of the Europe b-boy Foundation that then lead me back to trying to figure out Breakings Bronx and New York roots. He was the first guy to teach me the 80’s style Indian Step, the Backsweep drop, 4-Step and Kneerock Footwork as well as my first proper Baby Freeze.
After Duke introduced me to theatre and performing arts, I lost contact with him and until this very day still wonder where he and his family is. Around that time by chance, I was at the State Library in Melbourne and decided to take a break from studying to get some fresh air. Here comes a person wearing camo-cargo shorts, with Adidas shelltoes and fat laces carrying a rolled up 2x2 lino on one shoulder and a giant Ghettoblaster in the other hand. I knew that this guy Pauly (Bilal) was definitely a b-boy and he eventually introduced me to the rest of ISO (Immortal Shining Ones/Independent Social Outcasts) that were to become my first family of Hiphoppers that guided me and revealed to me more of what the essence of Hiphop culture is and its various artforms, holistically adding more to my knowledge of Breaking foundation. Fairooz was one my mentors who was the first to breakdown why we don’t call this art Breakdancing and why it’s called b-boying. I gained my sense of the Rock and funk from these guys, and the swagger that came with the hardcore rugged Hiphop style of the 90’s.
Q. As people know, you can also dance different styles like locking, popping and breaking. How do you describe your dance style?
It was in the early years of my foray into the local Hiphop scene both in Melbourne and Sydney that I got to see how other dancers do those styles. My OGs from ISO not only Breaked, but they also knew how to Pop, Lock and dance the Hiphop-style that came with the New Jack Swing genre. Because they were also DJ’s, I grew up listening to a lot of dope Underground Rap and Funk Breaks. A lot of that was the music that was considered dope at the time: Lyricist’s Lounge, Blackstar, Mos Def, Talib Kweli, Common, Pharoahe Monch, Beatnuts etc. and at that time, Hiphop’s classic anthems from the 70’s were coming out in multiple volumes from compilation records known as “The Ultimate Beats & Breaks.” They were also savvy enough at the time to purchase VHS tapes (or get bootlegs) via International Mail Order, which gave them the immediate update on what was happening around the world in Hiphop Dance. Through them I saw Seven Gems, Swiftrock, Ivan and FloMaster as well as my first looking into the Fil-Am scene through Mighty 4 so whatever they saw, I saw through them what was dope and that essentially is where I learnt the true meaning of “Style.”
That was my proper introduction to Locking and Popping, though I must say that as a kid in Grade 1 in the early ‘90s I was already imitating Vanilla Ice and MC Hammer. That being the mainstream dance at the time and by Year 8 in ’97, teenagers all around Victoria were all doing the Melbourne Shuffle at underage parties. Coming into the Melbourne Hiphop Scene in Year 9 at 14 years old and performing at my first ever Fringe Festival by 15, it was almost quite natural that I would be snuck into an Underground Hiphop night called Scubar on Lonsdale Street on a Thursday, and by 16, I would see all these other dances aside from Breaking in club/bar settings. To see my OG’s dance with pretty women then have 15 minutes to show off and break when the DJ brought the hype to that level, still stands out to me today.
For a few years those became my training grounds and by 18 I was traveling interstate to Sydney for various battles such as Oz vs. NZ Battle of the Year qualifier, X-Games and then our own Australian Battle of the Year qualifier. This is where I met the Destruktaconz crew and where I became good friends with Nacho Pop from the States and his mentor Acha-Ocha from Osaka, Japan.
Along with Monkey Boy and M-pire, this was where I first saw a crew of different dancers in competition format that had routines that incorporated Popping and Locking. A lot of those routines were choreographed by Acha, and so he became my first teacher in the foundation of Popping and Locking which also allowed me to dance and connect with Nacho Pop.
This was also the time when our crew started finding interest in other styles such as House dance, Lofting, Uprock/Rocking because of the abundance of overseas dancers introducing that dance to the people of Sydney. Something that was still very rare and practically non-existent in Melbourne.
Eventually we would meet many dancers from around the world but it wasn’t until we looked into our own backyard in New Zealand did we meet Future (Star Connex) who would school us on the Electric Boogaloo discipline and Locking-style as taught to him by SugaPop.
From that point onward, we refined our various styles of dance not only by training in the lab, but also by continuing to develop as club dancers and professional dancers adapting to different situations. That is the real reason behind my style because weekly we always had an audience of some sort. Include the vibe that we would help create and in return they would layer on top of that... for me those are the magical times of my youth that I really miss. Battles then of course became the way to challenge ourselves in different ways pitting ourselves against other dancers. I learnt a lot by battling the best Poppers and Lockers from Japan and Korea in Sydney.
Q. Thank you for coming to spin for Ryugi vol.22 ~Toprock Party Edition~. Also thank you for teaching the Rocking workshop for us. As it was your first Ryugi experience, how did you feel about it and is there any feedback for the jam and Sydney bboys & bgirls?
Yo it was a dope event! I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but all the dancers that rocked up seemed to have a good time! I think the most rewarding experience for a DJ is when the crowd they spin for show their love and appreciation through their reactions. The two highlights for me was when two dancers at separate times had that “screwface.” When they heard a dope beat, pointed to nowhere on beat and nodded their head while looking at me spin... that made me feel like my selection was right and that it got the right energy in the club to draw out the right spirit for Toprock.
The other highlight was in-between the battles during the Party Sessions, continuing the flow of the vibes and seeing the dance floor full. It was food for my soul. I loved how organically it all happened, the good vibes that were there, the appropriate aggression needed through friendly competition and how drunk and cheerful people got! I believe it’s the right balance to have enough time for people to party and then have those activities such as battle to contain that energy in a different way.
The only feedback I have is: Keep having these editions Onegaishimasu!
I believe in the direction that Breaking is going towards the Olympics at the moment and seeing it as part of the cycle of its evolution... However, it’s clearly evident that Breaking these days is mainly accessed through competition format and not in the vein of its Block Party/Jam roots. It doesn’t have to, but I think there’s a lot that can happen in the lesser known side of today’s Breaking that can really help a dancer’s personal development.
On a big stage, you need to be a big performer to a mostly cold-crowd, having to do big tricks and dynamic movements and hit obvious sounds with your moves to lightning speed music.
In a tight circle at a party such as the one that was at Ryugi vol. 22, you needed a different kind of confidence to enter the energy, flow with it and contribute to the overall vibe... You also don’t have that much space and so it’s a particular type of restriction/handicap that I think is good for a dancer to utilise. It’s actually kind of like the Gravity Chamber that Super Saiyans train in, and I’ve actually seen Korean footage of Obowang back in the day doing Airflares in such tiny spaces without hitting anyone!
On a spiritual level, the jam is more like the feminine version of the overtly masculine version of Commercial dance events... at these kinds of parties you need to be accommodating and swaying with the rest of the sea around you and the waves you create together. It’s chaotic, but somehow free and flowing. If b-boys and b-girls did the work regularly through these two platforms to dance, ie: Commercial and Underground, I believe a more harmonious, balanced growth can be achieved not only by the dancers, but for the other contributing artists such as the DJs, the Emcees, the supporters and the whole community in general.
It may not be for everyone, but if people knew how to play the game from both ends I think we would have a more complete community and help bridge our small community with other sub-cultures to create an even greater one that encompasses the nurturing of mind, body and soul and the ecosystem required for that. In a day and age when we’re expected to have the full- package, this for me makes sense, but our limited population means it’s not as obvious in our culture as other places in the world. I think the new generation knows about this through what they see on the internet, and slowly those things will start to become more commonplace.