Battle @ Buffalo -Under the Lights 5, Celebrating Culture, Community and Our City
Around 8 am yesterday, I walked from Spot Coffee on Delaware to the parking lot of the New Era Headquarters building where we just ended on our 5th Annual Under the Lights festival the night before. Although it’s a quiet and serene time of day to be in the city, the streets spoke to me. Recalling memories from the past fifteen years that I have been involved in organizing various artistic events within this beautiful city, I was overwhelmed with the highs and lows of such moments.
As I reached the parking lot and climbed onto the stage to think about the amazing dancers that competed, the DJ’s that kept the crowd moving, the artists that brought their mental visions to life before my eyes and mostly the positive, energetic crowd that came to support, participate and encourage everyone involved in Under the Lights, I felt at peace.
Sometimes as an event organizer, my mind can be neurotic after an event as I review what went wrong, what I need to do differently next time and all the clean up that needs to be done. None of that happened this time. As I sat on the stage that I was about to dismantle and closed my eyes, my mind was filled with images and conversations from the day before and this is what I heard and saw.
Hundreds of people from all different ethnic and economic backgrounds gathered together meeting new people and discussing when and how they were first introduced to Battle @ Buffalo and Verve Dance Studio. Families having fun, drawing, dancing, eating and making new friends as they made their way from watching the competition to drawing in the art tent, to meeting the local vendors. Friends from Toronto, Montreal, New York City and various other cities catching sight of each other, hugging and smiling in excitement that they had run into each other here, in Buffalo! DJ’s and musicians bobbing to the music as they watched the crowd move to the beats they played and dancers compete fiercely only to hug, shake hands and give high fives when their rounds were over to show mutual admiration and support. I heard the words of those that came up to me to tell me how much their lives have been impacted by what we do and one woman specifically who said, “You give me a reason to be in Buffalo.”
These images remind us all about what is possible when you hold a vision in your mind and relentlessly push to accomplish it no matter what comes your way. Our vision has been realized through the work and participation of our entire community. It grows every year through the families that come to take classes at our studio, the dancers that come to our monthly Battle @ Buffalo events, the businesses that give financial and in-kind support and every other person that volunteers, comes and shares who they are with everyone else that is there.
As Verve Dance Studio celebrates it’s 10 year anniversary, I am humbled and grateful to have each of you be part of what we do. It is for you and because of you that we can celebrate 10 years of providing family friendly events and together we can continue to provide the education, entertainment and unity that comes from working together in support of the amazing elements of hip hop.
Shout out to Genocide and Poppin’ Fresh for the All Styles Win and to Burn and Illz for the B-boy Win, as well as all the dancers that competed, the judges that showcased their talents and showed true sportsmanship in the decisions, the graffiti artists that painted live all day, the cap design participants, the volunteers that helped coordinate all the pre and post event tasks, the DJ’s and musicians, our very own Differential Flava Crew and everyone that came through. Photos and videos from the event will be posted soon so check back to our Under the Lights page as well as our Facebook page.
Shane and I will be at our studio tonight, Monday 8/31 from 6-8pm hosting an open house. Come through, say hello and learn more about how you can be involvedin our community.