June 13, 2024

Styles Of Dance

Dance Styles Unite in Harmony

National dance competition Red Bull Dance Your Style in Atlanta this weekend

3 min read

Now in its fifth year, the competition will feature16 dancers competing Saturday at Underground Atlanta.

The event will also feature musical performances from Atlanta hip-hop acts Soulja Boy and Dem Franchize Boyz. Toosie, the viral dance sensation behind Drake’s 2020 hit “Toosie Slide” and a former Dance Your Style judge, will perform a tribute to Atlanta’s most famous dances.

This is the first time Atlanta hosts the nationwide contest. Red Bull Dance Your Style has been previously held in Las Vegas, Washington, D.C., New Orleans and Chicago.

“The dance scene in Atlanta has come far,” said Don Soup, a two-time national finalist known for his dancehall-inspired routines. “It’s amazing that the world gets to see something so beautiful.”

Battle dancer Don Soup competes at Red Bull Dance Your Style National Finals in Washington, D.C., on October 23, 2021.

Credit: Carlo Cruz

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Credit: Carlo Cruz

Red Bull Dance Your Style begins tonight with a Welcome to Atlanta kickoff party at MJQ. Friday and Saturday will continue with two workshops and a creator’s lab at Omni Hotel.

Dance Your Style Battle Night at Center Stage, happening Friday night, highlights six dancers from the U.S. competing against six dancers from Africa. The evening also includes a two-on-two open style dance competition.

Bryan “B-Bop” Donaldson is co-hosting and emceeing Battle Night. Moving to Atlanta from Seattle in summer 1995 when he was seven years old, he says growing up and seeing young people doing locally invented dances at Skate Towne on Old National Highway made him realize Atlanta street dance culture is infectious.

“Our dance history in Atlanta is not talked about a lot but it influences the world, just like our music, fashion and entertainment,” Donaldson said. “We bring a different type of swag and flavor into the dance world.”

The weekend includes a pop-up dance session on the Atlanta Beltline at A/V Radio, and a rooftop brunch on Sunday at Coda.

Two-time national finalist Carlito “King Luffy” Walker is bringing his flexible, robotic-styled body movements and contortions to both Underground Atlanta and Center Stage.

Born in Austell and raised between Lithonia and Stone Mountain, Walker’s friend convinced him to drive from Atlanta to Orlando for Dance Your Style’s 2023 competition. There he auditioned for the contest’s regional qualifier in Tampa.

Carlito "King Luffy" Walker competes at Red Bull Dance Your Style Qualifier in Tampa, Florida on April 9, 2023.

Credit: Yvonne Gougelet

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Credit: Yvonne Gougelet

Walker advanced to the finals in Chicago. He was the only dancer to advance in his bracket who wasn’t from Florida.

“Everyone was getting these big cheers,” said Luffy, who was born in Austell and raised in DeKalb County. “When they called me, all I heard was my homie in the background, cheering me on, and a few claps here and there. I got the job done and was able to move to the next level.”

Walker made it to finals this year after he qualified in Memphis earlier this year.

Carlito "King Luffy" Walker competes at Red Bull Dance Your Style Qualifier in Tampa, Florida on April 9, 2023.

Credit: Daniel Zuliani

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Credit: Daniel Zuliani

Actively stretching and doing breathing exercises during his training, Walker says having the national finals in his hometown this year is a stress reliever.

“I’ve always battled out of state,” Walker said. “My family is able to be there in person now, instead of watching me on a livestream. This is another day in the office, so it’s time to put in work.”

Soup says Red Bull Dance Your Style will show visiting dancers the Atlanta dance scene is family-oriented and full of Southern hospitality.

“People look at battling as [if we’re] on some ‘Stomp the Yard’ and ‘You Got Served’-type stuff, and they don’t think it really exists,” said Soup, a former Atlanta resident. “Dancers in Atlanta have always created a safe haven to welcome other dancers who are new to the game.

Donaldson says Red Bull Dance Your Style National Finals and Weekender will help give Atlanta’s dance scene the same respect as music and entertainment.

“It’s about time that we get something this big to come to Atlanta for street dance culture,” Donaldson said. “It’s going to be epic.”

Red Bull Dance Your Style happens May 18, 6-10 p.m., at Underground Atlanta. More information and tickets are at RedBull’s website.


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