Red Bull is the city’s new saving grace. The various off-shoots of the mammoth brand have been scattering Denver’s recent months with transcendent events. Red Bull Sound Select shows have been consistently thrilling for even the most jaded among us, and the Red Bull BC One Cypher on July 6th was no different. Eyebrows were raised when Boettcher Hall, the upscale venue housed in the Denver Performing Arts Complex, was announced as the site for the B-Boy battle. The juxtaposition wound up being perfect- poetic even. Everyone there was a hip-hop enthusiast to say the least, and the legitimacy that Boettcher lent on Saturday night felt like just dues. There was a red carpet that led all the way from the street to the glass doors of the Hall; we walked it in our Adidas.
The circular stage most often peppered with the black ensembles of orchestra members was turned into a straight spectacle. The exuberance of the competitors was mirrored in the dynamic and rather grandiose visuals, the spot-on DJing from Skeme Richards, and the lovably animated host Ivan the Urban Action Figure. Judges RoxRite, YNOT, and Asia One even got up and did their thing during the break before the finals. The vibe was endemic and not one person could stay still all night.
The 16 b-boys competed in a bracket, and is as so often the case, some of the earlier rounds were slightly more exciting than the final. Ah-Pong of Boogie Munstars Fam was an early stand out, and gave the crowd their first dose of collective mind loss with his impeccable timing and comedic improvisation against his lesser opponents. Denver-based Kid Cruz (Bedtime Monstaz) was also quick to claim his ground, reminding everyone whose house it really was. His fans were loud, but his skills screamed louder.
The high stakes rose higher with each round, and battles like the one between Ah-Pong and Ali (Body Roc / Knucklehead Zoo) were tangibly tense. Pnut of Self X was also particularly aggressive, extracting cheers from those in the audience that like their b-boys with a little fucking mean mug. As is nearly always the case with these competitors though, it was all love at the end of each battle. Data (Soul Mechanics Krew) and Ah-Pong even skipped out comically, swinging each other’s hands on their way to the stage for their battle. Though the cards came up unanimously Data, theirs was the closest match of the semi’s. Ultimately it came down to Data and Kid Cruz in the finals. While Data was technically masterful and wildly entertaining, he proved no match for Kid Cruz’s fluidity, timing, and unique style. The hometown kid pulled down a unanimous-decision win, and the uncontainable crowd bumrushed the legendary Boettcher Hall stage. So, you know, in case you were in need of a Denver hip-hop moment, feel free to let that shit sink in.
Kid Cruz is headed to the North American finals, held in Orlando, Florida on August 22nd. The International championship takes place in Rome, Italy on November 14th. All photos courtesy of Blake Jackson.