Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Artist Spotlight: Hugsby aka Francis Vida rises to the top

A few weekends ago, the Filipino community in Jacksonville, Florida celebrated their 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day, a festival full of food, fashion, dance, art, and stage talent. To no one's surprise, the event was full of hip hop culture. For those concerned about hip hop being "dead" in the younger (and very young) generation, I'm happy to announce that hip hop lives!

In a medium metropolitan city like Jacksonville, hip hop's livelihood has always bubbled but has never gotten the "mainstream" attention, except for maybe the booty bass groups 95 South and the 69 Boyz (holla if I'm blanking on any other notable J-Ville acts). Regardless, hip hop has been produced by the multiracial dwellers of this military town. Maybe the inattention makes for hungrier, creative and unique expressions (the SF Bay Area is another case, although spilling into the mainstream intermittently).

I had a chance to catch up with Francis "Hugsby" Vida, a young Filipino American street dancer/b-boy who testifies to the "underground" nature of hip hop in J-Ville. He is also a witness to the ways in which Filipino Americans have for a while been a central part to the hip hop scene in the city.

Why do they call you "Hugsby"?

The story to my "Hugsby" nickname is really lame unfortunately. In high school, my friends were doing a research project, and one of the main people in their project was named "Francis Hugsby". And so they would call me that jokingly, and I guess it stuck. Great story right? I'll come up with a much better one one day.

When did you get involved with street dance?

I got involved in dance when I was pretty young. My first inspiration for dancing was, without a doubt, Michael Jackson. I would literally turn on the TV every day and keep the channel on VH1 (they showed much more music videos than any other channel back when I was growing up) just incase a Michael Jackson video came on. Then I started getting into b-boying. The reason being, is because there was a youth group called Youth for Christ that a lot of my older friends were a part of. All these guys ever did was bboy, and when I was younger, I really wanted to get into it to be cool with the older guys. I got some props for being probably the only 12-year old out there doing windmills at the time, but eventually the bboying phase went away.

Who inspires you dance-wise?

There's a lot of artists and dancers who come to mind when I think of who really inspires me. On a broad scale, I'd say Chris Brown is unmatched in the mainstream with his dance talent. He doesn't move like anyone else, and his moves are always explosive and unique. On a choreography standpoint, I'd say that Brian Puspos from So Real Cru/The Architeks is probably my idol. The reason why is because I feel like our personalities are real similar, and he isn't scared to show his goofy/humorous side in his pieces. And from a raw, bboying perspective, without a doubt, I'd say Bboy Kid David is my all time favorite. His style, musicality, work ethic, philosophy on the dance--EVERYTHING about the kid is inspiring. A dancer like Kid David, in my opinion, is THE RAWEST form of someone who genuinely created their own style and is using it to smoke cats in battles.

CDLC are a crowd favorite at Jacksonville's 2nd Annual Filipino Pride Day

How did you meet you crew, Creme de la Creme?

I met Creme de la Creme (CDLC) at the beginning of 2008 when it was formed. At the time, an acquaintance of mine, Elvis Mangune, was calling a few people up to ask if we wanted to join a group to compete at Tampa's annual Philfest. During our first competition (**cough cough** which we won), CDLC consisted of 14 members. Because life happens, only six of us remain from the original 14 members: Elvis Mangune, Mike Confiado, Shelley Torio, Sharon Torio, Mariel Manalo, and myself. We've picked up a few new members in the past year or so who have done several performances with us even up until this day. Throughout the years, CDLC has become a lot more of a family than a dance crew, and I've always believed that we're friends first, and dancers second.

Where do yall perform, and for who?

2010 was probably the busiest year CDLC has ever seen. We've travelled all around Florida, from Tampa, to Tallahassee, Gainesville numerous amount of times, and even to Atlanta. Our performances are mostly FSA (Filipino Student Association) affiliated because we have strong connections with a lot of the officers and event organizers from different Universities around Florida, but we've also performed at parties and fundraisers as well. We were also lucky enough to be requested as back-up dancers for Toni Gonzaga in August, a famous artist from the Philippines.

Describe the dance and hip hop scene in Jacksonville. How do you think it compares to other places around the nation you might be familiar with?

The dance and hip-hop scene in Jacksonville is REAL underground. You have to really dig to find real hip-hop. I would say that the only time I really see TRUE hip-hop heads are at bboy jams. As far as dancing goes, I'd also say that Jacksonville is still pretty young in the choreography scene. The b-boys have their own community, and I've seen it grow tremendously. I remember when there was only Main Ingreedyantz, and now I'm not surprised when I see a dozen cats I've never seen before training in an empty racquetball court. In comparison to other cities around the nation, I'd say Jacksonville has no where near the biggest hip-hop scene, but it's definitely there.

Francis displays the championship belt prize at stake in the First Annual Hip Hop Competition at Filipino Pride Day. The Systematics crew danced their way to victory to win the coveted belt.

Why did you decide to emcee for Filipino Pride Day? Why is it important to you?

I emceed for Filipino Pride Day because I was asked by Francis "Doscat" Namocatcat. I've had experience emceeing big events before, but nothing NEARLY as big as FPD. I was kinda nervous at first, but the crowd was extremely responsive, so it made the job a lot easier. It was important to me because, though I can't speak tagalog fluently, I want the younger Filipinos to know how important their culture is. So many of us here in the states are "Americanized" and I wanted to show the younger generation who grew up like me that it's okay that you don't speak the language, but it shouldn't stop you from embracing your roots. You can't know where you're going if you don't know where you came from.

What are your next steps for CDLC or for yourself in terms of dance?

Creme De La Creme will be competing/performing at Def Talent Jam in Gainesville the first weekend of November. We've also been asked to do some private performances, and we have a lot in store for 2011. As for myself, dancing is just something I do because it's fun. I dance to express, not to impress. I'll definitely be sticking with CDLC for as long as my life will let me, and in the mean time, I may be brushing up on some power moves.


No comments: