Over a week ago HYPE Magazine got the opportunity to tag along with Nike to attend the major Serious London dance event in London that brought together a bunch of crews of dancers from all over the world. From Italy to Istanbul & of course South Africa, this was not short of a global event!
Day One team South Africa (made out of Nike SA, Tarryn Alberts & Intellectual Pantsulas) land in cold London, at the popular Ace Hotel in Shoreditch just days before the highly anticipated Serious London event and yes! Everyone is excited because this is “The Ultimate Street Dance Event” we’re talking about and our #AllFor1JHB champions, Intellectual Pantsulas would the ones representing Mzansi. One thing you have to understand is that the purpose of that competition wasn’t to witness who was the best crew but rather showcase how dance connects us all regardless of background and geographical location… On the first day the team explored what the city of Shoreditch had to offer, from checking out the various street stalls surrounding us to finally seeing the iconic Gherkin Skyscraper in person, we all absorbed the moment of discovery but at the same time imagine what the other dance crews from various countries would bring unto the stage on D-Day.
Early morning Day Two found us heading out to the DanceWorks studio as our dance team (Intellectual Pantsulas) had to rehearse for their performance because Serious London was of course just a day away now and rather than be the distraction, the rest of us gave them the space to do what they had to do by further exploring what else London had to offer. And naturally, we headed out to NikeTown London on Oxford road because why not right? Meanwhile, the Intellectual Pantsulas’ focus on preparations was on a high because that’s how they role, more work than play huh? Man London is amazing with its magical atmosphere, dripped out old folks and diversity. With our “panstulas” finally done with rehearsals, we find ourselves collectively doing some more exploring which included one crazy Five Guys lunch, impromptu photo-shoots and good times. Later that evening the rest of the dance crews arrived at our accommodation which was proceeded with a special dinner down at the impressive Segardi. The night then concluded with a series of events such as a young hotel party because the Ace hotel is “apparently” that spot.
Day Three was really a special one because not only was Serious London taking place later that evening but South Africa won the Rugby world cup against England (… very awkward). So mid-day the media got the opportunity to head out to a creative & local project space called Peckham Levels that consisted of walls full of colorful graffiti & a down to earth energy. Peckham Levels is actually a seven-story structure that hosts 100 different activities that include cultural spaces, start-up stores & dance/yoga studios. The idea behind Peckham Levels seems to be one of connectivity as it was created to create a safe and creative space for the community by integrating different cultures, businesses & more under one roof. However, Peckham Levels isn’t all a reflection of progressiveness but the space also acts as a reminder of difficulties that surrounded the area in earlier times: things such as crime, poverty, education, racial discrimination & social instabilities were a common denominator. Well at least those were some of the truths revealed to us during our media run at The Movement Factory (where Tarryn Alberts would hosting a dance class the following day) which is a community dance organization that focuses on delivering dance workshops to schools, colleges, and community centers. During our visit, we met Movement Factory founder Leanne Pero who proceeded to narrate her story to us from where she grew up, how she was bullied as a child to how the Movement Factory came to be.
Leanne’s story was quite an emotional one as she further revealed she started dancing at age 13 but soon after she was sexually abused she then decided to leave home and started teaching dance lessons to support herself. Her whole journey all led to the creation of The Movement Factory, a real movement that focuses on bringing together a community that brings together different cultures and helps the youth learn to better themselves & those around them through dance. Nike’s partnership with The Movement Factory helps support the mission further their collaborations, events, provisions & message. And to amplify how Nike’s involvement is an important one, one of Leanne’s students commented on the partnership by saying that NIKE assists them in spreading their message which not only pushes their visibility, but it also helps them build bridges instead of walls, allowing them to create an even bigger platform they would never have even realized. This means that more young people can have unique opportunities, such as participating in the Serious London event.
That intimate session was quickly followed by a dance class led by the Movement Factory students themselves. They started by showing us some dance steps which was then followed by a whole dance routine and it honest fun. And as tiring as it was, everybody that participated had a good time. That is ab experience I’ll never forget! As soon as that was done we made our way back to the hotel to finally prepare for the main event: the Serious London dance show, a dance movement promoted by Nike that brought together a variety of street dancing crews from all over the world. From Jazz, Hip hop, breakdance, house, vogueing, dancehall, afrobeat and pantsula, Serious London fully represented. And of course, Intellectual Pantsulas made us proud when they showcased the art, rhythm & poetry of pantsula, which is a South African original dance style. As soon as the pantsulas jumped on stage, the atmosphere was electrified as spectators got the opportunity to witness why pantsula will forever be within its own lane, while we were rooting for them, they did what they did best in their Nike Air Force 1 Shadows! At the end of their routine, Intellectual Pantsula proudly lifted the South African flag high for the whole Serious London crowed to see. We came, we saw and we conquered!
And as the final dance crews finished and as the lights started to dim, we were all lit up by the experiences that all led up to this point. And when you thought everything had come to an end, the after-party was ignited, the dance floor was a free for all and further memories were created. Before ending our night at the hotel, which had another afrobeat themed party going on, we all shared a meal, shared a drink and appreciated the unforgettable experience we had just had over the 3 days. And to witness a crew from Soweto fly across the globe and represent us to the fullest despite the fatigue & pressure is a spectacle I will always hold dear to my heart. On the day of the departure we had one more special memory to create which involved our very own Tarryn Alberts teaching a dance class at The Movement Factory. Tarryn took some time to not only teach some Mzansi dance moves to the kids but she told her triumphant story from tour dancer to founder of her own So Dope dance academy down in Eldorado Park. A few “Shaolin Voshos” later and we were finally done. That moment was something describable! And that was the ‘Serious London’ experience! Stayed tuned for the mini doc coming soon…Thank you, Nike South Africa. Thank you Serious London.