One recent sunny Kunming afternoon we found ourselves in the Dechun Telecom building at Xiao Ximen for the first time. The hallway of the fifth floor was filled with the sound of renovation crews doing their work. At the end of the hallway, the noise of saws and staple guns gave way to hiphop beats. Another crew was hard at work, but they were having fun.
We arrived at the new Dangsters Studio to talk with crew captain Du Fei (杜斐 - wearing the 'I heart BKK' shirt in the above video) about the Dangsters – a group of entrepreneurial young dancers who are making a living off of dancing at events and teaching dance courses at their studio. A group of seven dancers, including Du, were finishing up rehearsal for an upcoming promotional event for which they had been hired.
The high-energy routine finished with a flourish of whoops and clapping and the even more high-energy Du bounced over and introduced herself with a snap and a slightly vogueish arm and hip combination. GoKunming sat down for tea with Du to discuss the story behind the Dangsters ("dance" + "gangsters") and the state of hiphop dance in Kunming. Here's what we learned:
GoKunming: Can you give us a short history of the Dangsters?
Du Fei: Yeah, we started off in 2002 with just three people – back then we called ourselves KLT – and now we are a 10-person crew. We opened our first studio four years ago on Longquan Lu. It wasn't the greatest location because it was a bit far from downtown Kunming. Now we're in a much better location and our studio is much nicer.
People think Yunnan doesn't have hiphop... we started this place to let people know that we're here!
GK: There aren't many dance competitions in Yunnan, where do the Dangsters usually go to compete or perform outside of this corner of the country?
DF: Almost all the hiphop dance competitions in China are in Beijing, so that's where we usually end up. Recently we've competed in national competitions including the 2009 Keep On Dancing competition, the CCTV National Hiphop Dance Competition and the 2009 NBA Cheerleader Competition.
GK: In addition to competitions and commercial events, the Dangsters are also dance instructors. What kinds of dance do you teach and how often does your studio offer classes?
DF: We teach hiphop and jazz dance and have classes every day. Each of the crew members is also a teacher.
GK: How many students in Kunming have studied under the Dangsters? What kind of students come to your studio?
DF: We teach everyone... some students are in their 20s like us, we also teach kids and old ladies. [laughs] The older ladies like to dance sexy.
GK: Why do older women enjoy your classes?
DF: For older women, dancing can be a way of becoming more confident. It gives them passion, it can also give them power.
GK: Why did you personally become interested in dance?
DF: Because of Michael Jackson... he's my God. [laughs] The first time I saw him dance I wanted to dance like that.
GK: Do you think hiphop is just another trend or do you see more of a scene developing in Kunming in the coming years?
DF: I think hiphop and hiphop dancing will grow in popularity in Kunming and more people will get involved. Dancing has a positive impact on people – it makes them feel better about themselves.© Copyright 2005-2019 GoKunming.com all rights reserved. This material may not be republished, rewritten or redistributed without permission.