Breaking may be about moves, but break battles are nothing if not about cocky endurance -- they're spinning, flying, acrobatic, getting-served, street-level dance wars. At the Bridging the Gap B-boy Battle, athletic five-on-five crews will prove this by hitting the floor to show off moves and compete for respect and cash. The crews of five dancers are judged on style, dance ability, execution, and originality. Rules? No touching. "A lot of these guys get aggressive," host Richard "Speedy Legs" Fernandez says. "It's like a boxing match." This competition is the third in a series of five battles; the first two were held in March (with six crews competing) and September (eight crews). After tonight and a fourth battle scheduled for February, a fifth and final night will bring back the first four winners for a killer showdown.
It seems difficult to travel far into hip-hop country and not hear a renunciation of media-saturated gangsta bling and a return to, um, moral values. So it is with the b-boy battles, which Speedy Legs, along with hosts Seth "Brimstone 127" Schere and rapper William "Mista Long" McLean (formerly of the 1990s duo Black Sheep), says are a clean, athletic return to break dancing's roots. "We want to push positive hip-hop culture," Brimstone says. And b-boy is more than just about break dancing, says Speedy Legs, who has been dancing for 20 years and serves as a kind of break godfather. Speedy waxes all philosophical when he talks old school about the evolution of single headspin flourishes into entire series of pounding moves and increasingly demanding sequences of stunts. But the b-boy, he says, is more than that -- he embodies an attitude, a hip-hop persona burning brightly despite commercialization. To Speedy, the b-boy is the true believer, as it were, not too caught up in gymnastic flair to forget he's still dancing to a beat. "I always teach that you can invent something new if you know the old stuff."
The Bridging the Gap B-boy Battle goes down at the 21st Street Rec Center (2100 Washington Ave., Miami Beach). Doors open at 7 p.m., and admission costs $10. Visit www.hiphopelements.com, or call 786-266-0809. -- Dave Amber
Fair-Weather Holiday Shopping
If you haven't done your holiday shopping by now, well, the malls sure aren't gettin' any less crowded and shoppers aren't getting any friendlier. But the obvious alternative of surfing the web for stocking stuffers is about as fun as a holiday party with Scrooge (e.g., watching your boss get tanked). At this late date, your best bet is Buckler's Holiday Craft Show, coming this weekend to the South Florida Fairgrounds (9067 Southern Blvd., West Palm Beach). Not only does the show include items you can't find at Wal-Mart (imagine that!) but the gifts are all handcrafted by the vendors -- not some poor 12-year-old in a Singapore sweatshop. And while you're at the fairgrounds, you might as well stop by Yesteryear Village, which is especially spruced up this weekend for the holiday season. The ten-acre park is one of the few places a South Floridian can experience a bit of local history. It sure beats renting Miracle on 34th Street for the 50th time. The craft show takes place Friday through Sunday. Admission costs $6 for adults and is free for children under 12. Admission to Yesteryear Village costs $5. Call 561-793-0333. -- Jason Budjinski
Broward gets down
The downtown Fort Lauderdale scene has always housed local acts along with its perennial meat market, usually displacing alternatives such as indie-rock dance parties. Miami's got its Vice, its Revolver, and whatever other grand soiree that revels in its own hipsterdom. Recently, though, Fort Lauderdale has rivaled its counterparts to the south with several new nights featuring DJs in neighborhood pubs, making Broward a unique choice for nightlife happenings. Following the demise of the beloved Blowtorch monthlies, Crush has ably picked up the pieces for the past year. The weekly Thursday gathering remains one of the most popular social events in the area, and its purpose is simple: dance, drink, and be merry. Featuring DJs Matt Cash (Vice) and Adam Wrong, among others, Crush is hip-hop, pop, indie rock, new wave, mashup, and punk, all in one four-hour package. By avoiding Miami's elitist tendencies for a friendlier vibe, Crush has helped spearhead a new culture and move South Florida's social epicenter a few miles north. Crush lasts from 10 p.m. to 2:30 a.m. every Thursday at the Fox and Hound (4812 N. Dixie Hwy., Fort Lauderdale). Eighteen and older welcome. The cover costs $4; free beer from 10 to 11 p.m. Call 954-491-8869. -- Kiran Aditham
"I went downtown/I saw Miss Brown/She had brown sugar/All over her booga-wooga." The lyrics to Bob Marley's "Kinky Reggae" sum up what it's like to feast your eyes on a Caribbean hottie. It's no surprise that the islands simmer with sexual activity, but unfortunately, the region's HIV infection rate is second only to that of sub-Saharan Africa, and the virus is spreading primarily through heterosexual contact. Party promoter Damian Tater would love it if everybody could play with one another's sugarcoated booga-woogas without getting sick. So he's enlisted the help of Planned Parenthood and the local health department to help him do outreach and pass out condoms at the Second Annual Safe Sex Party at the Reggae Palace (1900 Okeechobee Blvd., West Palm Beach). Tater says to expect DJs spinning sexy tunes, plus prizes and "live demos!" Hopefully, no one will end up with "candy tar/all over his chocolate bar." Call 561-236-2537, or visit www.fullavibes.com. -- Deirdra Funcheon