BOT Excerpt, Chapter 1, Page 2
The DJ drops the needle and the battle begins.
Our two crews face each other, tensely stepping back and forth from one foot to the other, each daring the other to go first, like it’s a game of chicken. The crowd starts to clap the beat, in anticipation. On our side, Recoil finally gets sick of waiting and leaps into the ring, opening big with a series of power moves, more like gymnastics than dancing. The room goes wild. I cheer with Sean and Encore, but on the inside I wince. I wish Recoil would do some actual dancing before getting into the big tricks. The judges are looking for foundation moves and creativity, not just brute acrobatics.
I’m pretty sure this is why I’m always second in the running order. Mr. Ruckus and the boys of tha Klub figure that by burying me here, they’re playing it safe. They can still open big and close big and as long as I don’t screw up, the fact that I’m a girl won’t matter, ’cause at least I’ll have the basics covered for the judges. I hate the way they try to pass off sexism as strategy; like there’s nothing I can ever do to match them. But I take my battles one at a time and right now, I need to stick with the program and nail this round. The best way to win is to win.
Mephisto throws down for Infinite next. He kicks off his run by ticking off every move Recoil did on fast-forward, as if to ask “is that all you’ve got?” Then he drops down and fills in everything Recoil missed, ending with a couple of tricks he invented himself.
This is what I have to follow. If I think about it, I’ll either panic or ask for an autograph. Instead, I keep my head down, try to wipe the slate clean and focus on what I do best.
As the crowd gathers closer, I open with a few funky dance steps– Bronx and Brooklyn rock, light on my feet, playing with the music, riffing off what’s going on in the song. Within twenty counts, I’m down on the floor, working through intricate footwork– six steps, C.C.s and other variations, focusing on the essential foundations of the dance. The guys are always bitching at me to learn more power. They won’t be happy until they see my feet flying around in the air. But when I’m doing these moves, I feel connected to the start of it all, back in the day, somewhere in the Bronx in the 70s. I hit everything nice and tight, toss the crowd something a little unexpected but save some strength for later. I don’t want to burn through my best stuff like Recoil, who is still panting on the sidelines even though his turn is long over.
“Yeah! Lady Six!” An unseen fan shouts from the crowd.
We go back and forth like this until we’ve all gone twice, and at the end of the final, the crowd erupts in chaos. Some people are chanting for Rackit Klub. Some people are chanting for Infinite Jest.
It takes forever for the judges to announce a winner. When the MC finally steps up to the mic, the room gets so quiet, you can hear a bandanna drop.
“And the winner of the Hogtown Showdown is . . . “
It’s a tie.
It’s too close for the judges to call. They could split the prize money and call it a night but the crowd won’t rest ’til they declare a champion.