Oftentimes, Lau Chung-man wishes street dancers like him weren’t so misunderstood.
For instance, B-Boys does not stand for bad boys. In the language of street dancing, they’re simply male dancers.
Lau, 24, takes great pains to explain street dancing because people tend to associate it with gangs, not with performance artists.
Some of the hardest to convince were his own parents.
“Frankly speaking, their concerns were reasonable,” Lau says.
“The head spins and the back flips — they do look scary and dangerous.”
It came to a point where his parents refused to give him money unless he stopped, so he would often come home from a performance when they would be asleep at night.
That was many years ago.
His parents have given him some wiggle room but they still think street dancing is dicey.
Today, Lau is an 11-year veteran of the performance art — and proud to show off his talent.
“When we start dancing, passers-by gather around and applaud. It’s hard to put into words how that makes us feel,” he says.
“Hong Kong people and tourists alike are beginning to appreciate this type of performance art.”
Lau’s first encounter with street dancers came at an early age — on his way to a family dinner.
He was captivated by their performance and looked interested enough he caught the attention of one of them who offered to teach him.
Lau cites his reluctance to take the offer as a missed opportunity, but he pressed on.
“In high school, I tried to look for street dancing classes. Technology wasn’t very advanced then and YouTube hadn’t been invented.”
When he met a group of street dancers in his Tin Shui Wai neighborhood, he grabbed the chance to learn one or two moves from them.
Later, he met like-minded young people through the internet.
In 2005, Lau and his friends formed Galaxy Crew, hoping to make a career out of street dancing.
Recently, they launched a self-financed start-up, GPLUS Marketing, mostly with money they made playing the stock market, to manage and promote the group.
“Everyone knows Hong Kong people have a life-long work life,” he says. “Even though I was making HK$10,000 a month teaching street dance, the income wasn’t stable enough.”
“So I had to join others and pool our resources to start the company.”
The enterprise is still trying to find its footing, a task made more difficult with the departure of some members for more stable jobs.
Lau says Macau is a far friendlier place than Hong Kong for street dancing entrepreneurs.
“A Macau dance troupe established just a year ago is able to participate in international competitions because the government supports it. Street dancing is featured in their tourism brochures,” Lau says.
“What has the Hong Kong government done? All we need is a place where we won’t be driven away. For example, the government could consider setting certain hours for performances outside quiet MTR exits,” he says.
“We are more than happy to do our part.”
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 23.
Translation by Darlie Yiu
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