Breakin’ the Bay takes place at Wales Millennium Centre annually, usually around the August bank holiday. It’s one of my favourite arts events to attend in Cardiff and I think I might have been to every single one. In different years, the programme has varied from including a main-auditorium evening show to just sticking with the essentials of live graffiti art and hip hop dancing.
This year I popped along to WMC in time to catch some of the dance tournaments in the Glanfa, and some graffiti work going on outside the Centre. Inside there were people of all ages, races, genders and styles participating or watching dance competitions. There are competitions for freestyle, popping, locking, individually and in teams. The standard of the dancers is incredibly high, despite the fact that some of them cannot have been more than about 10 years old. It always amazes me.
Outside people of every age were watching and admiring the graffiti artists, taking and sharing photographs and commenting on the quality of their work.
What makes me really happy about Breakin’ the Bay, though, is the atmosphere. Whoever is dancing, they get a cheer. There is hip hop music playing but the crowd consists of everyone from young people to passing families, older people watching with a cup of tea to 30-something couples bobbing their heads along with the music. We often make assumptions that certain types of art, music or creative practice are only for one type of person but Breakin’ the Bay does a brilliant job of flouting that myth entirely. Everyone in the crowd is involved with the spirit and you rarely see so many smiles in an arts centre these days!
I hope Breakin’ the Bay continues into the future, and I really hope that all those people – young and old – continue to see that there’s plenty available in an arts centre for them, even if it’s not exactly what they thought it would be.