Watching yourself dance badly, in front of a mirror, while three excellent dancers do their thing either side of you is a humbling experience. To exacerbate things, we’re wearing the wrong clothes. “Those shorts are fresh,” a man called Gavin (B-boy name: Coop Dawg) grins. We suspect he’s lampooning us. In a humid dance studio in London, FHM is having a breakdancing lesson from Soul Mavericks, the crew that won the 2010 Sony Ericsson UK B-boy Championships in July and were semi-finalists at the World Championships in October.
“Move your hips,” Gavin’s mate Ashley (B-boy name: Ghost) says. “Loosen up.” At this point, we’re not bringing sexy back. We’re trying to do ‘Indian steps’, a tricky manoeuvre that involves standing in one place, and moving your leg out to the side and back again. It’s surprisingly hard when you have no rhythm or coordination and we’re suddenly overwhelmed with thanks that no one in Soul Mavericks has had sex with our girlfriend.
“Try and feel the music,” says Abdul (B-boy name: Angry Abdul) who’s wearing a bright red T-shirt and is the liveliest person we’ve ever met. He keeps doing stuff like diving onto the floor and spinning on his hands like the thing Di Caprio uses to check he’s not dreaming in Inception. It’s a new move Soul Mavericks have learned.
“New moves are like the blonde you see across the street,” says Gavin. “You want it for so long, you need it but as soon as you’ve had it you don’t want to know.” This is how I feel about the ‘India step’ so we crack out the ‘salsa step’ which involves legs crossing over and forgetting our right from left. Looking in a mirror doesn’t help.
After wobbling about a bit and getting a decent sweat on with the ‘six step’, the crew decide it’s time to have a ‘cipher’ where we stand in a circle and watch each other dance. FHM’s terrified. Helpfully, Ashley says, “You can get so embarrassed when you’re B-boying. If you’re walking with your girlfriend and some guy comes up, slaps you and walks off with her it’s not even an eighth as embarrassing as getting destroyed in a cipher.”
The dancers dance, we watch, and too soon it’s our turn. Somehow, out of nowhere, pumping with some kind of B-boy bravado, we pull off a ‘baby freeze’. Face planted on the ground, legs in the air, excruciating wrist pain – the place goes nuts. Six people whoop because a balding, chunky white man is balancing on his forehead and palm. Astonished, and red-faced, we take the plaudits. “We’ve done this with a lot of media,” Ashley says. “But you were the best.” Woah! Hear that Paxman? Eat my goal!
How to do a ‘Baby Freeze’
1/ Put both hands flat on the floor. Use your left hand to balance as you push the elbow of your right into your body between the ribcage and waist.
2/ Make sure your right arm is straight. Use it as a pivot to rest your body on. Imagine you’re trying to balance a mattress (your body) on a bottle of wine (your arm). With your legs still grounded, rest the side of your head on the ground in front of you.
3/ Slowly try and lift your legs up into the air, going onto your knees first if necessary, supporting your body weight on your head and right arm. Try and hold the pose. That, chums, is a baby freeze.