Photo: Mark Prins


I roll out of bed and,” Mariano Abarca pauses as if he is not accustomed to being so honest. “And I know this sounds corny, but I just want to dance.”

His choice of dance, B-boying, is actually a culture … albeit a culture with a stunningly visual and impressively athletic form of dance.

B-boying boasts such moves as popping, locking and freezes. And there are new ones that Abarca has only heard about. B-boying requires the discipline of a ballet dancer, the speed of a figure skater, the balance of a gymnast, the creativity of a choreographer and the devotion of a monk.

Abarca is one of those young people you instinctively like. He is clear-eyed, confident, well-spoken and passionate.

He is passionate about B-boying.

Most people would call him a break dancer, but they don’t understand that B-boying is the pure and positive foundation to much of what youth culture is perceived to be all about … a perception that can frustrate Abarca when images of rough and ready hoods flaunt wealth and vacuous dancing women shaking their collective “thang”.

“We are the ones trying to make Hip-Hop positive,” he says. “Images of Rolls Royces and mansions and, and the women.” Abarca is frustrated even more now.

“I only need one,” he says, showing one index finger in defiance.

“They talk of how they shot this guy and they shot that guy.

That’s not what it is all about.

“In videos, the best way to put it, is B-boys are getting pimped … they don’t get paid.

“B-boying has separated itself from Hip Hop … real Hip Hop has a positive message. It tries to stay pure. Yet other people come in and say, ‘I can do something with this,’ and it fits in.

“It accepts everyone.”

If B-boying is accepting of others’ contributions, what is pure about it? It is the positive message and the intelligence.

“The Internet allows us to communicate and it is so much easier to educate ourselves. It’s amazing how limitless it is.

”I know people who don’t just travel; they travel to another country to join a team. “I can go to any city and find somebody and, if you play a certain type of song, someone will hit the floor and get dirty.

“Their lifestyle is very similar to mine: Chinese, German, whatever, we all have moves, names for the moves and people who are legends. We know where it started and we know the history of it.”

The “B” in “B-boy” is for “break”. In the formative years, these dancers would only dance at the break of a trick DJ’s songs.

These B-boys – and B-girls – carried with them a sense of culture. It was not like a fad that would be abandoned for another. Abarca says his own brother has gone from skateboarding to rollerblading to BMXing.

“You still do that?” Abarca is asked by old friends when they hear he is still B-boying. “You still do that?” “This is a living,” he tells them. “I love it, but it’s not a game.”

Abarca is in the Yukon with Roshan Amendra and Troy Feldman to teach youth how to dance. They came from Toronto to teach “technique and basic, basic moves”, but every move has a story and the positive messages of this culture slowly sink in.

“Once they ask one question, 1,000 more come,” says Abarca.

Students learn how B-boys are appreciative of the music and are friends to the graffiti artists.

There is not much he or any of the B-boys can do when the style of dance is co-opted to sell hateful music, except, perhaps, to remain true to the positive aspirations of this culture.

“It’s not an obsession,” says Abarca. “That’s not what it is. It’s a passion. “It’s like a loved one: You respect it, you have trust in it and, when everything is wrong in your life, it is still there for you.