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The Throwdown Vol. 5: B-Boy Sonic

  • Sonic Boom
    Twice a month, The NH7 Throwdown will introduce you to the country's best b-boys and b-girls, from young'uns to the veterans, the powerheads and the style maniacs. This time around, I had a chat with B-boy Sonic.

    Sailesh Agre, aka Sonic, used to be a folk dancer. But that was back in school, before a friend convinced him that b-boying was the way to go. Specializing in power moves and clean footwork, Sonic has been with Mumbai crew Underdog Kombat since soon after its inception.
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
  • How'd you get into B-boying?
    I met Paritosh, Keith and Sumit (of the Underdog Kombat crew). I was a folk dancer then. Sumit introduced me to b-boying and after a few weeks of practice, we had this battle with Freak N Stylz. That was my first ever battle, in 2007, I think, at Club Escape in Andheri. That's when I met FnS and other crews. UDK expanded, and some members of the crew participated in Boogie Woogie as "Rohan and Group". They used to do TV shows, and Underdog Kombat as a whole focused on pure b-boying and battles.
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
  • How have jams changed from what they used to be five years ago?
    I remember this one jam organised by the Swordfish crew (who have split since then). They said, "We'll do this like no one else has ever done." It was Underdog Kombat against Swordfish crew. They asked us to reach the venue at 5.30, and when we entered the main organiser's crowd surrounded us. We asked him, "Should we enter?" and he said, "No, make a proper entrance like in a Bollywood movie, this is a b-boy jam, logon ko feel aani chahiye.". We were escorted to the "ring", which was an actual boxing ring. The crowd didn't have any proper b-boys, and they only understood what was happening if someone did a flip or something. Those jams weren't... you can't call them jams, they were more like parties. No one knew what breaking was about. Jams now are way better. Now we have better systems, and provisions for proper DJs and a good system of battles, and fillers. More importantly, the crowd is better. It's a proper breaking crowd and that's the most important thing. There's still this problem though, when crews are battling at the front, a lot of the audience isn't really interested, they're just using the space to practice (as we observed at The Culture B-boy Jam). I guess that also depends on how the space within the venue is used, that's something people have to figure out.
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
  • What are your personal favourite moves?
    Airchairs, flares, 2000s, which I can't do right now because I'm recovering from a dislocated shoulder. I desperately want to learn airflares, but I think that'll take a couple of years. I love footwork, creative footwork more than "moves".
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
  • What music do you practice to?
    I usually practice to funk and soul music. James Brown. I look up to B-boy Mouse, and he's mailed me a few mixtapes, and I practice to those too. Music is very important to a battle; catching a James Brown beat is really difficult. DJs at battles need to know what the jam is all about. At this one battle I went to, there was a Ganpati Visarjan DJ mixing tracks, and he was just given two CDs to play, he had no idea what he was doing. It was terrible. Music is the main thing during the jam, a DJ should focus on it.
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
  • Do you think mainstream dance shows help getting knowledge about b-boying out?
    No reality show is real. We had pretty bad experiences with Dance India Dance. No one really cared about the dancers, it was all about the drama, and they edited it to their convenience. But there was a show on Bindass, Bindass Street Dance, that was more attuned to what b-boys need. They asked us exactly what we required to perform, and they provided us with it. So if there are more of those kind of shows, that would help a lot. Though I personally advise every breaker, if you're a serious breaker and want to promote breaking, don't do reality shows.
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
  • What was the most fun battle that you ever participated in?
    The battle against B-Boy Nevermind at the semifinals of the UK B-Boy Championship. That was the first battle where I went blank. I knew I was losing, but I still enjoyed it. It's more important to just enjoy the music. My first battle against Freak N Stylz is always close to my heart, because it was my first ever battle. There was also a battle against B-boy Jainu at the Cypherholic solo championships that I enjoyed a lot.
    Photo credit: Shalaka Pai
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