If you live on campus at UCLA, you’ve most likely wandered back up the Hill in the evening and noticed a large mass of people hanging out in Parking Structure 7 and blasting music ranging from Britney Spears to Ace Hood. Sporting some swaggy Adidas sweats, Stüssy shirts and snapbacks, these are the fine people who make up UCLA’s hip-hop dance community.
Association of Chinese Americans Hip Hop, Nikkei Student Union Modern, Samahang Modern and Vietnamese Student Union Modern – as well as a brand new team, Foundations Choreography – are the premiere hip-hop dance teams here at UCLA. Being a part of NSU Modern, I have first-hand experience of the struggle that we as dancers face. And let me tell you, although we’re only on stage for six minutes, so much time and work gets put into what we do.
So, everyone, quiet down and listen up.
1. Here’s the real situation. UCLA dance teams have no designated place to practice on campus, so we must resort to parking garages. Unfortunately, there are no bathrooms near our practice spots, so often dancers find themselves sprinting toward Student Activities Center during a “three-minute water break.” Once there, you just gotta shake it out, right Samahang Modern?
2. But the struggle doesn’t end there. When the time comes for a big dance competition, we have “Hell Weeks,” which are, well, exactly as they sound. During these weeks, we have practice every single day, sometimes until sunrise. You end up becoming a zombie in class, if you even wake up for class.
3. Balancing your time is a must being a student-dancer. Practices can range from four to eight hours, and having a midterm the next day is no excuse for being absent.
4. But since we have big teams of 40-something people, study groups with each other become just as routine as rehearsals. Time to rally and pull some all-nighters together.
5. Don’t get me wrong, there are the fun parts of dancing. You’re introduced to new friends, which leads to hanging out, and hanging out often entails partying.
6. And no, just because we’re dancers, it doesn’t mean we just twerk all the time.
7. OK, we might. But we have more talent than that. We can do cool things with our hands, too.
8. So, if you’re ever thinking about joining a hip-hop dance team on campus, do it. When you’re strolling Bruin Walk, you might feel overwhelmed, but go ahead and stick out your hand and grab that flyer for auditions!
9. Being on a dance team will bring out sides of your personality you didn’t even know existed.
10. Like, for example, your inconspicuous inner diva.
11. So go out, audition and shoot for the stars!