Last Friday, over 5,000 Salt Lake Community College students, faculty and community members came to the Taylorsville Redwood Campus to see the world famous hip-hop dance crew, the Jabbawockeez.
However, before the performance at 7:00 p.m., in the same place, the Lifetime Activities Center, they came to SLCC to talk to FOX 13’s morning newscaster Big Budah.
Big Budah heard about the Jabbawockeez “through the grapevine.” Stuart Tua, SLCC student and student assistant coach of the men’s basketball team was happy to have his friend, Budah, there, adding some buzz to the event. Rep it Right, Tua’s clothing line and hip-hop movement was also there along with one of Up Rock Record’s sponsored dancers, Josh Perkins. During the two-hour show with Budah, Perkins showed SLCC students and SLCSA members basic dance moves along with the interviews with the Jabbawockeez.
Budah admitted being surprised more news stations weren’t covering the event. There are very few things that cross economic, racial, and demographic lines, Budah said, and the Jabbawockeez are one of them. Anyone can enjoy their talent and enjoy watching them do what they do best. The fact SLCC had the opportunity to see them live was huge.
Anytime there’s “something cool” going on, Budah is there covering, he said. Last year, he came to cover SLCC’s Men’s Basketball Team.
“You guys are on the map,” Budah said, “but this is going to give you serious street cred.”
“The college has a lot to offer to the community,” Thorne said. Her goal was to do something big and really put SLCC’s name out there. And, SLCC’s name has been put out there big time.
Thanks to promotions on Big Budah’s Facebook and word of mouth, people not just from the school came to SLCC to see the Jabbawockeez. Community member Patrick Sanchez and his children came early to get autographs and planned on returning to see the performance.
“These guys are big,” Sanchez said, “we watched them on America’s Best Dance Crew.”
Sanchez said he’d already told other people he knew and worked with and had also talked to others who knew about it through other sources.
In the beginning, when tickets were first being sold, the deal offered was two for $5 for students and $15 for community members. While the sales started slowly, there was an abrupt peak. In one day, 400 were sold and when prices were set at $5 per piece and tickets began growing scarce, students started buying community tickets. Though three times the price of student tickets, most weren’t willing to chance not having any seats at all. After students were told tickets were sold out, last resorts were taken. Even students who’d visited Smithtix too late were out of luck. Thorne reports having seen people going to CraigsList.com and bidding for tickets at $80 a piece and above.
The expected goal of 2000 tickets was passed with 5,293 tickets sold. However, that number doesn’t include the volunteers who were there, policemen and security members the Jabbawockeez required, turning the LAC into a packed auditorium.
Thorne’s goal wasn’t for the school to make money. While the event was nearly $52,000, paid for through student fees, Thorne reached her goal and broke even. The event was sold out; people were eager to see it.
And, as Student Government member Ian Robertson said, the Jabbawockeez were happy to be here.
“Every show is our favorite show,” Jabbawockee member Chris Gatdula said, “We love performing for the fans.”
Serving as their personal chauffer, escorting the crew from the airport, to the school and to the hotel, Robertson got to hang out with the crew and see what friendly, down to earth people they really were.
Underneath the iconic white masks, Ben (B-Tek) Chung, Rainen ro Kid Rainen Paguio, Kevin (KB) Brewer, Chris (Cristyle) Gatdula, Phil (Swagger Boy/SB) Tayag, Joe Larot an dPhi Nguyen are all funny, humble, sociable and friendly.
KB, like Gatdula, said he’d been dancing since he was little. He just “gravitated towards it” without knowing any “formulas” to dancing. KB says dancing makes him happy. When he’s sad, he just dances. He encourages any aspiring dancers to, “never think it’s a waste of time and honor your talent.”
Nguyen started when he was 15 or 16. It was “fun and free.” He’d just turn on music and start dancing. Along with MJ, however, some other major influences were Gene Kelley and Fred Astaire. He, however, though open to other styles of dance, considers himself a street dancer learned in the different forms of hip-hop, predominantly.
Chung also started at a later age after high school around ’98 to’99. He, too, grew up watching Michael Jackson, who has “influenced the world” and just started practicing with his friends in the living room.
“People ask us all the time if it’s too late [to start dancing] but it’s never too late,” Chung said, “If you feel like you wanna do it, do it.”
Like most of the members who started young sans professional training, Jabbawockeez’ DJ Nick Ngo also just started in his garage.
Larot, who came up with the group’s name, however, was forced into dancing by his mother at the age of ten. Singing and dancing as a member of the performing arts, Larot soon fell in love with the stage.
“Always be a student. Love your craft. Stay humble. Each one teach one,” Larot advised, “Share whatever you learn and share with whoever’s next.”
While the members interviewed suggested to all students, not just ones interested in dancing, to always do what makes you happy, Chung admits they are extremely fortunate to have what they have as their career.
“We wouldn’t want to do anything else,” Chung confessed.
Before the end of the final segment with Budah, each member showcased his or her favorite moves. Joe showed off “The Robot” he got from Dave Chappelle that “gets all the girls.” B-Tech, who’s “a little afraid of the girls” showed “The Shy Boy Dance,” which involved hanging your head pathetically and shuffling your feet. KB’s a fan of “wrist Rolls” and “locking” and, to finish it off, SB, aka Swagger Boy, along with all the crew (except Joe) showed their signature, favorite move, “the walk it out,” which involved them literally walking out.
Having just flown in from the Philippines, some crewmembers admitted plans to take naps once at the hotel, however, the Jabbawockeez returned to SLCC ready to perform.
Groups of fans and eager patrons began waiting outside the LAC doors as early as 4:30 p.m. Radio station Movin 100.7 was there as the crowd grew. By 5 PM, the line of people stretched to the Science Building. With no assigned seating, people wanted to make sure they found good seats. While waiting in line, some people even made their way through the crowds, asking if anyone had extra tickets.
Once inside, the house was full. Several times, guests were asked to squeeze in, making sure everyone could find a seat. Before the show ended, of course, people were already sitting on the floor, Indian style, close to the stage.
To open the show, two competing local dance crews came to show how people used to settle disagreements. The DJ would pick the song and a member from the opposing crew would step into the middle of the stage and show his stuff. There were crazy balance tricks, b-boying and spins. Showing off their different moves, the crews got the crowd fired up for the following performance.
To draw the suspense out even more, Ngo came out to first show off his pride and joy, a newly mixed version of Michael’s Jackson’s “Annie Are You OK?” He’d revisited the song and tinkered with the beat. While the crew would perform to it later, he wanted to show it off a little bit first.
“By contract,” Ngo said to the waiting crowd, “you have to be loud enough before the Jabbawockeez can come out.” Though the cheering was earsplitting, audience members stomped their feet on the bleachers, creating a rumble not unlike thunder, Ngo finally called Budah over to get his own people loud enough. Once the LAC was filled with cheers and screams, the lights were dimmed; the Jabbawockeez entered the stage, ushering in a new, more intense wave of applause.
Clad in black with white-soled shoes, white gloves and their signature white masks, the crew forced the audience to see them as one. The matching gloves, too, seemed to leave white streamers behind with their movements.
The crowd went wild.
People stood up in their seats, rocked with the beats and kept up a constant cheering that became background noise to the music.
The group often kept synchronization, uniformity and precision as the goal, but would break off, too and dance individually. Tying in their signature move, the Jabbawokee, they also incorporated miming into the show. During some songs, with the guitar blasting from the speakers, the crew air-guitared. Other times, their white-gloved fingers would dance over imaginary keys to the piano.
The crew isn’t one to live down comedy either. As they are behind the masks, while donning them and on stage, the crew isn’t short on humor.
Though Ngo often wasn’t on stage, seeing as his equipment didn’t have turntables, as the Jabbawockeez are trendsetters on the forefronts of cutting edge and totally new styles, the time he was on stage involved a skit. One of the Jabbawockeez came on stage after the crew had just finished a dance and gone behind the curtains and pointed at him, looking much like Family Guy’s Evil Monkey.
“Oh, you want to battle me,” Ngo challenged as the lyrics “Anything you can do I can do better” sang over the speakers and the two battled. The Jabbawockeez throwing out poses and moves while Ngo’s hands flew over the different knobs and dials on his set-up.
Another segment started with two Jabbawockeez. The two acted out a scene while dialogue was played over the speakers.
“Now, on masculinity,” the rigid, male, prim and proper, 50’s-esque voice announced, pantomimed by one of the crew dancers to the other, “You must dress appropriately,” the voice continued, “and under no circumstances, must you ever dance.”
However, the farce continued and the commentary ended when Beyonce’s Single Ladies blasted out and all the Jabbawockeez filed on stage to do her signature dance, twirling their hands, and popping their hips. While they had the crowd roaring with laughter, the Jabawockeez, at one point, also had them on their feet, bobbing up and down to the music and dancing.
Though the performance seemed to end too soon, the house had spent nearly an hour on its feet, cheering. Coming back onstage, the crew removed their masks and stood before the audience.
Devoted fans cried out names as the crew went down the line introducing themselves.
“Salt Lake City,” SB said into the mic, “You surprised the heck out of us.”
To that, the tumultuous crowd grew even louder.
The crew also asked that all members point their fingers to the sky, in honor of former member Gary Kendall who passed away in 2007.
“Gary Kendall is the glue that brought us and keeps us together,” Gatdula said previously. The group officially formed in 2003 but had been dancing together before then. Kendall brought them together, uniting the people from northern and southern California.
After the final tribute to Kendall and some last “thank yous” the crew began exiting the stage while fans rushed up to the barricades, reaching out to shake the dancers’ hands.
While getting the crew here was expensive, most students believed it was well worth the money.
“The tickets were cheap and the event was excellent. Wonderful,” SLCC student Hadiyah Muhammad said afterwards.
While many left the campus after the show, entering very congested traffic, some stayed around, anticipating the after party. Though originally planned at the beginning of the semester as a Black and White party, Black Student Union president Alexi Baptiste still expected quite a few people to come to the party.
Held in the Student Event Center of the Taylorsville Redwood Campus, though still early in the night, the room was full with people dancing and laughing and having fun. By 10:00 p.m., Baptiste said he expected a lot more people, at least 200 more to arrive before the party ended.
To end a rancorous night, people showed off their own moves and spent time with friends having witnessed the Jabbawockeez first-hand, live, right on campus.
Thorne admitted wanting to “set the standard” for next year, especially since she’ll no longer be the VP of Fine Arts and Lecture. She wanted something big and she got it; a successful, sold out show and perfect goodbye, showing SLCC does have so much to offer the community.
The Jabbawockeez won’t be too far if you missed them this time or want to catch them again. They’ll be performing May 7-26 in Las Vegas. Visit mgmgrand.com, jbxkz.com or other websites regarding their schedules. Also, check out repitright.com to find more information on the movement or get shirts to show where you’re from. For future SLCC events visit slcc.edu/calendar as well as The Globe‘s calendar page.