Go Back To Hip Hop News Directory

Send A Letter To The editor..or submit a news scoop

Go Back To Davey D Home Page

Jam On The Groove

At long last a Broadway style production has come into existence that superbly captures the true essence of hip hop music and culture. The hip hop musical Jam On The Groove is a concept that was conceived and executed by folks like Ken Swift, Mr. Wiggles, Fable and other original members of hip hop's famed Rock Steady Crew. The production recently rolled through the Bay Area for a week long stay at Berkeley's Zellerbach Auditorium.. Here sold out crowds were treated to break dance routines that were so well choreographed and so colorful that it might forever change the way anyone approaches doing a play of this sorts... I kid you not when I say it this took any of those famous Broadway musicals like Cats or a Chorus Line put them to shame... I'm unfortunately at a lost for words..but all I can say is you got a chance to see all the flares, head spins, freezes, electric boogie and any other hip hop dance moves in its crowning glory.. Ken Swift in an interview explained that the whole purpose of Jam On The Groove was to keep hip hop culture alive and to present in a way that it would be seen it's true form without being watered down... He also noted that it was important that hip hop culture be presented to the masses by people who have help create and shape it various aspects.. Far too often you have kids who've just come along and gotten into the music and culture after watching a video and they inadvertently and oftentimes intentionally distort and exploit hip hop to fit their own means...He also explained how important that it was that Jam On The Groove got the proper backing..and financial support.. In this case it has been Calvin Klein that has come to the plate to put money on the table.. Hence it's no accident that you see an abundance of 'CK' clothing on the dancers... But what was most important was that Calvin Klein had not come onto the scene and tried to dictate content.. They pretty much left these hip hop pioneers in a position to accurately define and execute the vision of this production. The other thing that Swift and company had done was go around the country and gather up some of the nation's best dancers.. When they introduced folks, you found that they weren't just from the Bronx New York.. but instead from Los Angeles, the mid west, and right here in the Bay Area... Fable explained that hip hop was universal and a whole lot of folks from all over the country were responsible in helping lay down its groundwork..

Jam On The Groove starts off with a DJ spinning cuttin' and scratchin' break beats to warm up the audience.. He then gets on the mic and sets the tone by defining what hip hop culture is all about.. The first dance routine features about 15 people who are all dancin' in synch against a brick wall... The routine depicts them being chased away by the police.. The point being made is that hip hop has always been met with resistance.. but in spite of that. it has still managed to flourish.. For the next hour and a half.. the audience had an opportunity to see these elaborate dance routines in all types of settings.. ranging from all out block parties to 'Mafia/casino' scenes.. In between the acts the dancers provided commentary to talk about hip hop's current state and its evolution... They left folks with a whole lot to think about... One of their most telling statements was Fable explaining that 'Culture never disrespects people.. People disrespect culture... At that they asked that audience members always have a healthy respect for hip hop..

Another major highlights of the show was the final scene in which all the dancers got an opportunity to go all out and do a solo number.. It was literally a scene out of the movie Beat Street.. Seeing Ken Swift do his patented freeze moves was off the hook.. Seeing Mr. Wiggles contort his body was spectacular .. Seeing LA's Boogaloo Shrimp pop lock to Flashlight was a definite treat that left the audience giving the cast a standing ovation.Another outstanding feature was witnessing the skillz be flexed by the plays B-Girls.. Dancers like Honey Rockwell let the audience know that women have always and will continue to major parts in hip hop culture... and that they've always held their own...

One of the good off shoots of Jam On The Groove was that it brought out many of the Bay Area's old break dance crews for a reunion of sorts.. For those who don't know... The Bay Area was one of the first city's in the country to really start embracing hip hop on a mainstream level... Back in '82, '83 the San Francisco Ballet saw fit to include Break Dancers in their program.. The SF Ballet Breakers made a little bit of noise back in the days.. King Tech of the Wake Up Show Fame was an original member... It was good to see some of the old Bay Area Crews like Demons Of The Mind, Master City Breakers alongside other acts current acts like Housin' Authority [yes they are hip hop dancers]. There was nothing but love and mutual respect.. Just a side note many of the Bay Area's early rap acts like Timex Social Club, The Wild Boyz, Hammer, Digital Underground to name a few started off in dance crews... It was fitting that Jam On The Groove was featured on the UC Berkeley campus.. because back in the mid 80s that was the hot spot for all of Northern and Central Cali... On a weekend night as many as 600 dancers from all over would come and square off in front of Zellerbach Auditorium.. Folks would come from as far South as Fresno which is 3 hours away and as far North as Reno, Nevada which is 4 hours away to Berkeley just to dance and show off their skillz... Heck even the members of LA based Samoan Boo Yaa Trybe used to come up and compete.. Those were some legendary times..Eventually the UC Berkeley authorities had the dancers removed and literally killed a thriving movement. To see Jam On The Groove on the UC Campus was quite ironic..

Davey D