Friday, January 16, 2009

Colonial Funk: America's Best Dance Crew Season 3

For ABDC Season 3, Team Millenia means business

References: Exclusive: America's Best Dance Crew Season 3 Los Angeles Auditions
Step Up! A Night of Pin@y Dancers in Hollywood
Fil Am Famous: Is dance how we'll "get noticed"?
Guest Article: "Filipino America's Best Dance Crew"

America's Best Dance Crew Season 3 looks as crazy as ever. From cloggers from Alabama to circus-style dancers from Brooklyn, this season is probably the wildest yet. Like everyone's been talking about since Season 1, this show is a popular space with which to showcase Filipino talent (is it the "biggest" venue we've had?). Although Filipinos aren't as dominant in representation as in the two other seasons (Fil Am quota?), there still is a noticeable presence. After getting booted in the first episode last season, Team Millenia, which is mostly Fil Am and comes out of the Fil Am college "modern" dance crews, is giving it a second shot. Let's wish them luck so we can get another largely Fil Am team in the ranks of ABDC victories, and hopefully get some sistas as winners for this show since only dudes have won so far.

Now what is interesting about this first episode is the representation from Puerto Rico. Our "colonial cousins" in the PR did really good I think, but unfortunately they were the first to be cut. Who is this team? They are "G.O.P. Dance," a name for a crew that I find tragically hilarious. Are they colonized Republicans with soul?

Anyways, in all seriousness, it is worth highlighting the fact that Puerto Rico, which isn't a "formal" U.S. state, is included in America's Best Dance Crew. The Philippines and PR became colonies of the U.S. after the Spanish-American War (and the subsequent U.S. violence on these island nations), and thus have almost identical Spanish and U.S. colonial patterns. As a colony of the U.S., Puerto Rico has a non-voting delegate in the U.S. Congress, while simultaneously subjected to U.S. militarism and corporatism (peep the pharmaceutical industry's hold on the colony). As "nationals" of the U.S. (Filipinos used to be "nationals" before given independence after WWII), Puerto Ricans can travel freely throughout the U.S. But again, they have no representation in governance. This is why I find that the adoption of the name "G.O.P." to be tragically hilarious.

Before their set, the host Mario Lopez asks the audience, "Will these boys from Puerto Rico become the main attraction of the mainland?" Good question Mr. Lopez. Since they were booted in the first episode, I guess they aren't. The irony here is bountiful. But the fact that PR is represented as constitutive of the U.S. nation-state is profound, especially since U.S. colonies are "invisible" in the public imagination. The U.S. is supposed to be liberal and "exceptional" and without colonizing tendencies like old world Europe. I wonder how the public will react to gazing upon these Puerto Rican brothas as representing one of "America's Best Dance Crew," albeit they got rejected. Not "American" enough? Yes, as abjected bodies, these colonial subjects can never be subsumed within the "pure" body politic of the (white) U.S. nation-state. (Dude, what if the Philippines was able to compete in this shit? Then Guam and Northern Mariana Islands...?)

Another interesting part of the episode was when G.O.P. stripped their Catholic monk vestiges. Is this a gesture of stripping their Spanish colonial heritage in exchange for a U.S. neocolonial affiliation in the form of hip hop dance? I'd like to know the intentions of that moment because shit is rife with all kinds of interpretations. What are the advantages of identifying with the U.S. nation-state? How does an act of "de-Hispanicizing" their group affiliation impact their ascriptions as Spanish-speaking Puerto Ricans? I think these questions could come right out of Raquel Rivera's New York Ricans from the Hip Hop Zone. A very good read.

Finally, big ups to Kid Rainen for holdin down the judging job of much-beloved J.C. Chasez. (Did anyone catch his "Big Booty Hoes" reference after Fly Khicks went on? Sneaky foolishness) Why can't they just hire Rainen to permanently hold that spot? Organic intellectual please! I really appreciated Rainen's recognition of the influence of salsa on b-boy dancing. He gave respect to G.O.P. for giving that salsa flavor and commented on how salsa influenced rockin which influenced b-boying. J.C. can't educate the public like that! Let's advocate for the change yall.

Pinoys and Puerto Ricans...keep up the colonial funk.

On another note, if you're ever in Queens, NY, you should stop by one of my favorite restaurants, Philippu Lounge and Restaurante. Why is it called Philippu? Cuz its Philippine and Puerto Rican-owned, cuz. They used to sell both Filipino and Puerto Rican food, but now it's only Filipino Food (both cuisines are similar anyway). Whether you're just grabbing lunch, going on a date, or watching a Pacquiao fight with the manongs, this is a nice spot to support Filipino (and PR) business.


Unknown said...

yeah it was good to see Puerto Rico, and I'm sure people were like "are they even American" ?

more on that later,

as far as aesthetic, the Beatfreaks are my favorite crew, they are reppin HARD.

other than that, i feel the new marketing strategy was to have the wildest, wierdest, most foreign (puerto rico) dancers.

this season's gonna be wack.

Boogie Brown/The Brian said...

i also love how rainen subtly criticized the cloggers for thinking they could just infuse hip hop but without knowing hip hop, not just the moves, but also the culture and the spirit. he was basically telling them to study the art before misrepresenting it and claiming it.

Kristia said...

borricua, morena, colombiana, dominicana, filipina...

i just love how diaspora has been acknowledged both explicitly and unintentionally in the media thse days...

especially with our mixie trancontinental president.


Unknown said...

the first time i saw GOP dance, i thought they wanted to come out shaolin monk style, I mean, they did have those yin & yang shirts on.

I wish Rainen could stay on, I really do.

Morose said...

i was so happy gop dance got on to the show ... and then subsequently extremely pissed that fly khicks got on and gop got rejected. i'm sick of women crews thinking booty dancing will gain them respect and that with their booty dancing they'll win. that's another rant.

i'm still conflicted about abdc's sad story portrayal of puerto rican ghettos. i'm glad that the pr got the spotlight but it made me uncomfortable.

yah rainen was a dope judge. JC should just stay in whatever country he was filming in.

the bone crushing guys from brooklyn are real interesting because they were one long racialized spectacle: the scrawny black circus with dislocated shoulders.

and i think team millenia was whack. they need to get over themselves. real quick.

Unknown said...

agreed on Millenia, not so humble and I think the rocker persona is straight up wack.

on MTV's angle on GOP's "ghettoness" i felt at the same time, when the crew was filmin in PR, they said there's this whole "other side of PR" and I think he was alluding to the urban environment, it's like claiming authenticity/connection to hiphop


cheryl said...

---But the fact that PR is represented as constitutive of the U.S. nation-state is profound, especially since U.S. colonies are "invisible" in the public imagination. ---

ABSOLUTELY! They should definitely be looking at what PR and Guam are doing. All of the US colonies are always forgotten in passing these huge US policies.

Back to ABDC: Hip hop performance is huge back home on Guam since there's such a huge Filipino diaspora there. I'm sure a lot of the people back home watch ABDC and shake their heads. I haven't watched this season enough though. Thanks for posting this!

The Filipino said...

Hi there! Interesting looking blog! FYI, I copied the Team Millenia to add color to my blog but I made sure I attributed the source properly! Check out the Q&A post on why Filipinos rock on ABDC. If you have questions, feel free to email me at Salamat!