Quality time with grandma—it's a beautiful thing. A few hands of pinochle. A game or two of Scrabble. Longs hours of breakdancing to the kickin' beat. For this month's quality time sesh, she's taking on other b-girls at the annual Breakin' Hearts competition and you're her moral support. Damn, your nana is cool.
Breakin' Hearts was born out of a warehouse in the war zone five years ago, founder and promoter Cyrus Gould says. It was created by Gould and Albert Rosales from a desire to host an all-ages, all-inclusive hip-hop and breakdancing event for Valentine's Day. "We didn't plan for it to be an annual event," he says, but given its success they kept it up and each year it's grown with nearly 1,000 attending last year.
"Annual events tend to get bigger and bigger and bigger and sometimes tend to lose focus and lose the intimacy," he says. This year, they're taking it down a notch hosting it at the newly renovated Heights Community Center in an effort to keep the event small and focused.
But small is a misleading word. You and grandma get two stages of entertainment—one with live hip-hop, reggae and rock performances and one featuring DJs Kayote and Souliva spinning as local b-boys, b-girls, beat boxers and pop ’n' lockers compete for cash prizes. Canvas art will hang along the walls. A mini-skate park will take over the basketball court. All the while, grandma won't have to worry about being barraged with explicit lyrics or booties and bling. "It's not about what you see on MTV—all these girls shaking their asses," Gould says. "It's about building and networking and really getting stronger together." Gould invites everyone to come: male, female, young, old, hip-hop, reggae, rock, punk, whatever. It's about unifying and bringing together diverse demographics, he says.
Beyond the artwork and live performance, Breakin' Hearts has become a forum for The League of Young Voters (or The League of Pissed Off Voters, whichever your prefer) to register new voters, open discussion and create an educated, empowered voter block. "Too many times main stream hip-hop as a whole starts to be very nonpartisan," Gould says. "It can't just be ignored all the time. [It's] not telling people what to think, but just opening up the conversation and creating that dialogue." People need to open up and talk about the war, he says. "War is not a value of hip-hop."
Grandma is down with that.