First Fridays, a community gathering in the Crossroads District every first Friday of the month, has been a major event in the Kansas City area for years. It attracts artists from all over the city, showcasing their talents throughout the Crossroads. Music, art, food and loads of other entertainment stretches the blocks of downtown Kansas City, but there has been a major element missing from the vast amount of art and culture in Kansas City until recently: dance. Phi Tran, the vice president of UMKC’S Breakdance Society, and crewmate Angel connected with graffiti artists and DJs that participate in First Fridays to create a new event on First Fridays called Battle of the Alley, a dance battle for people in the community to participate in and watch.
“The city is starting to cultivate right now,” Tran said. “About two years from now there wasn’t a lot of jams, and we sat down and said ‘we’ve got to think of something’ because there’s a lot of great people out there and we have to bring them out.”
The dance scene in Kansas City hasn’t always thrived the way it did on the first Friday of September. This is where the dance battles and jams come into play, creating a safe and fun environment for break-dancers and free stylists to come together to dance, compete and practice with other dancers.
“It’s a very underground kind of scene, you don’t hear or see a lot about breakdancing or all style events,” Khalil Kennedy, president of UMKC’s Breakdance Society, said. “But he just wanted to bring it back to the streets so people could party, have fun, and take a lot of the competition out of it.”
UMKC’s Breakdance Society is working towards expanding the breakdance scene in Kansas City and First Fridays is a great opportunity for them to get more people involved in the street style of dance.
“After King of the Roos at UMKC in April last year, and after that everyone after that was like ‘let’s keep throwing jams’,” Tran said.
A major factor in expanding the breakdance scene in Kansas City is the safe environment that Tran, Kennedy, and many others are striving for within the streets of the city.
“We mainly focus on the positive vibes, it’s just people coming together, drinking, dancing, and having a good time,” Tran said.
This safe environment that they’ve already starting forming has impacted the community already, not only with the Battle of the Alley, but other jams and dance battles for people to enjoy safely.
“Phi and I have been dancing for years,” Kennedy said. “Phi’s been dancing for six or seven years; I’ve been dancing for seven or eight years. We came to KC and got connected with some dancers, and we noticed that the dance scene here was kind of run by some sketchy people, some people threw some sketchy events and we wanted to kind of branch out and throw some more interesting jams more typical of hip-hop to bring people back to the streets.”