Soul Cypher 4: Saturday and Sunday

By Brett Roegiers

This weekend confirmed that the local hip-hop community is active and on the rise.

The HipHop Collective’s fourth annual Soul Cypher brought people together and allowed them to witness and take part in a culture that most people are not exposed to outside of GAP commercials and music videos.

“Behind all of it, there are roots,” said Leo Esclamado, president of the HipHop Collective. “There’s a culture and people practicing it.”

On Saturday, participators and spectators assembled in the Rion Ballroom of the J. Wayne Reitz Union at the University of Florida for the second night of Soul Cypher 4.

There was a popping competition in which participants moved their arms, legs, necks and bodies to the beat in ways created pantomime-like visual illusions, making them look robotic or seem as if they were floating across the dance floor.

The final two poppers competed in a decisive round while The Gainesville Groove League provided the funk music for them to move to. In a tough call by the judges, it was decided that Poppin’ Genius was the winner, and Mike Watson came in a close second.

The other main event, and the one that I enjoyed the most, was the crew breaking battle. It was similar to the two-on-two breaking competition on Friday night, but this time there were teams of about six to eight people. Two crews would line up facing one another and take turns trying to show each other up with choreographed combinations and on-the-spot responses. Endangered Species from Orlando took home the trophy this time.

After two long nights, it was time to unwind and relax. For this, there was a “B-Boy Q” on Sunday afternoon at the Plaza of the Americas on the UF campus. There was free food, open graffiti walls and an open cypher for whichever break-dancers still had energy left to perform.

One thing that I would like to have seen this weekend was a deejay competition. Maybe next year. But all in all, Soul Cypher 4 succeeded in being both entertaining and enlightening. It was nice to see hip-hop being used in such a creative and positive way.

“We have a growing scene in Florida, and I hope people saw it as a great outlet for youth expression and know that hip-hop culture is alive and still in full effect here,” Esclamado said.

For those interested in joining the club or finding out about upcoming events and meetings, visit the organization’s Web site at and contact one of the listed officers.

“We’re still a growing organization,” Esclamado said. “We still need a lot more people to step up.”