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David Sovka: A hip-hop breaking time at the Paris Olympics

If breakdancing proves to be popular, the 2028 summer Olympic Games will trial other more urban games, including traffic rage, sprawling homeless camps and sewage treatment during droughts

This is an even year, and that can only mean one thing: Summer Olympics! Again!

In 2024, the games are being held in Paris, and will debut some surprise events, including — I swear I am not making this up — breakdancing!

“Breaking” is now the preferred term for the, uh, I guess we’re calling it a sport now. Breaking certainly sounds more violent and in need of refereeing than “breakdancing,” which sounds more like dancing and in need of a partner.

I should add that breakdancing is also known as “b-boying” and/or “b-girling,” but does not currently have a confusing woke pronoun for people who identify as anything else, such as cats.

Anyway, breakdancing originated in the 1970s. If you are familiar with the waltz, foxtrot and cha-cha, this dance is probably not for you, characterized as it is by acrobatic movements, speedy footwork and a hip-hop soundtrack. I know that might sound exactly like the waltz, foxtrot and cha-cha, but let me say again: this is probably not for you.

OK, I see that you need some convincing:

It’s 1973 in the Bronx, the most northerly of New York’s five boroughs, best-known for its two main exports: crime and poverty. Breakdancing is part of lively gatherings out on the street, once all the burned-out cars are pushed out of the way, and a powerful means of expression before Donald Trump invented rage tweeting on the toilet.

These block parties feature an exciting mix of ­boom-box-delivered songs and spontaneous dance moves during certain segments of the music. The “break” in breakdancing refers to those segments, the part in a song where all vocals and instrumentation stops, leaving room for just percussion and migraine headaches.

As more communities across the Bronx embraced breakdancing, groups of dancers formed “crews” and faced each other in dance battles, which were ­preferable, from a workplace safety point of view, to the previous community engagements, known as “gang warfare.”

Like all … sorry, I’m having a hard time with the phrase … Olympic sports, breakdancing has a vernacular all its own. Here are some key terms for you to know:

Battle — as noted above, when two individual ­dancers or two crews of dancers compete against each other, as judged by the variety of moves, musicality, and whether or not anybody’s pants fall down.

Cypher — the circle formed by judges, waiting ­dancers, and honourable Olympian sport commentators such as Lance Armstrong and Bruce Jenner, in which the dancers, uh, spin and flip around and whatnot.

Throw down — this means when a b-boy or b-girl first throws the b-body to the ground, misses, and starts dancing in celebration.

The Olympics breakdancing events will take place over two days this summer at Paris’s Place de la ­Concorde, at the end of the Champs-Elysees. Thirty-two dancers, 16 men and 16 women, no cats, from various nations around the world will compete in a round-robin competition.

The argument made for including breakdancing in the 2024 Olympics, along with surfing, climbing, ­skateboarding and BMX freestyle, is that it makes the games “more urbane.” Sorry, I misread that. It makes the games “more urban.”

Attracting younger audiences is a high priority for the Olympic organizers. It is critical to keep these international competitions between the world’s most fit and talented athletes relevant to a largely sedentary and overweight television audience.

If they prove to be popular, the 2028 summer ­Olympic Games will trial other more urban games, including traffic rage, sprawling homeless camps and sewage treatment during droughts.

There is a great deal of prestige in the battle to win an historic first breakdancing gold medal this summer, and you are probably wondering who to keep an eye/lay a bet on.

I am told to watch B-boy Victor, an American dancer from Florida known for his creativity, individuality and personality. Also on the list is B-boy Kid Karam, a ­British dancer from Derby known for his ­creativity, individuality and personality. On the list of female ­athletes to watch is B-girl Nicka from Lithuania, known for her creativity, individuality and personality.

I used the word athlete in the paragraph above, and I mean it. Whether or not breakdancing should be an Olympic sport, there is no doubt in my mind that the competitors are talented and physically spectacular examples of human strength, endurance and grace.

They are also examples of something I think we need a new word for. You know, when you are really impressed by something that you don’t value and have no actual interest in?

Take opera singing, for example. It’s clearly amazing what the human voice can be made to do with the right talent and training.

But even a catchy aria from Puccini becomes ­annoying after a couple of minutes.

Or, to keep in the realm of sports, what about ­ski-jumping at the Winter Olympics? Flying down an icy hill at speeds in excess of 95 kilometres per hour is very impressive. But I don’t like it. I gawk like ­everybody else and wonder what the hell is going on here? I am gobsmacked, but why are we doing this?

Is this sort of thing audacious? Notorious? ­Infamous? None of those words are quite right. The closest I can come to it is “craptastic,” but I fear the editors at ­Merriam-Webster will continue to refuse its inclusion in their official dictionary of the English language.

The only other word that might work for something we are very impressed with, but not at all into, is “clutterbuck.” It comes from the mother of a former premier of British Columbia who I admire and respect very much.

I never knew his mom, who died in 2009, but I like to think that she might also question the legitimacy of breakdancing as an Olympic sport, and lend her maiden name to the situation.

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