From Poison to Flame: Style Elements Win at Massive Monkee Day 2013 by A-Game

by andrewmam

Massive Monkee Day 2013 Top 4 Battle: Style Elements vs. TheM Team

I find myself late at night, on a Friday, poison ivy slowly dying away in my thigh and left forearm, with that feeling to write again. It’s been a whirlwind week of emotional rollercoasters, itching turning to burning in my body, and the onslaught of work you leave at home when you leave to another city to fulfill a dream.

Two Sundays ago, I went to one of the most amazing weddings of my life up in Humboldt County, at the Avenue of the Giants. The person who I knew first (and got to know their amazing partner later) is the definition of healing and light in one person, so you can imagine the beautiful souls she’s collected in her life that she considers close coming together to celebrate. I left that weekend fulfilled in spirit, my body set free with the music and no judgment in movement, and a poison ivy rash on my hand…

and then I scratched my eye.

Then my face exploded.

4 days before the biggest b-boy event of my life, I had somehow, in the freeness of frolic and frivolity of freedom amongst the great redwoods of the north, gotten poison ivy all over my body. All over.

I had to go to a doctor and get the right medicine, and then, through a series of stand-by flight configurations, took a plane on Friday morning to Vancouver, rented a car, and drove down to Seattle to make it in time for Massive Monkee Day 2013. At this jam I would fulfill my dream of battling as a crew with Style Elements Crew (SEC), alongside more of my heroes: Crumbs, Machine, Ronnie Ruen, JayRawk, Frankie Flave, and good ol Stunner, Ricky RocANY (it stands alone! — Miss you Midus!).  I just needed to get my head into the game and off of the rapidly depleting tube of hydrocortizone I had brought with me.

Bas1 and Artson, SEC’s two MC extraordinaires, Lex, and Dev1 (San  Jose) flew themselves up for the event so we definitely brought the family. Massive Monkees, old time friends and fans of SEC, hooked the crew up with a fresh ass loft right next to Safeco Field where the Mariners play (we caught a game on Sunday).


It’s one thing to be down with your heroes, but there’s also the part after the fandom of getting used to everyone’s crazy, unique personalities haha. I found myself feeling more like family this weekend, which was a first for me (and I got a few true Bas1 stories now–which means I’m completely legit). Being separated in San Jose from the LA and worldwide fam, I tend to go insular but this moment was all about connection.

Day One’s performance however, did not feel like this. We struggled with vibe, and the battle, though lauded online, felt incohesive. We had the important talk right after and reset the game plan, reacting to the moment. Day two came and a laughter induced comfort dressed the air as we waited for the 5pm call time. I was in the company of experienced veterans who are all too familiar with the ‘morning’ of the jam.

My rashes went down significantly as I hid behind a goatee and my blue krama adorned on my head. The benefit of having character in your dance is that people tend to view you as the whole silhouette of movement (at least the people you want respect from). This was the first time in a while I was nervous to battle–not because of the competition but of the moment I was about to experience; almost too much to comprehend except for the true, honest feeling of being surrounded by such behemoths in this dance game, the MONSTA SQUAD.

The day did not happen like a flash as you might have expected me to say. I’ve learned to live life more present oriented over my past few years of traveling and I was savoring each moment. My memory of that jam is in full detail of each chapter. There was a moment in particular that I found incredible. After the hypest battle of the night with TheM team (video at top),  we stood by the bar together in the far corner of Showbox Market, bouncing around and staying warm, when JoRawk of Massive Monkees began to speak. The monologue, memory, and feeling he was accessing in his tone was very familiar to me, because it was the same tone I assumed when I spoke about my heroes. He had that spirit, that connection you strike to someone who has influenced you so deeply and you barely even had to know them.

appreciation award

Crumbs on the mic accepting on behalf of SEC

Unsuspecting to the entire crew, they announced a Massive Monkee Day appreciation award to Style Elements for the influence they had on the Seattle-based, World Champion crew. We walked up to the stage to receive the award and I had a moment of clarity. I stood back and applauded my crewmates for their accomplishments, because that is not mine. I felt so small among them, yet so monstrously large amongst them. Here was a crew that had changed so many peoples’ lives that in turn changed mine (I am a few generations down from when SEC first blew up). These guys are my favorite b-boys’ favorite b-boys; now my mentors; my heroes; my friends; my family.

The final battle came and an incredible spirit took over the entire jam. DJ Lean Rock played 90s hip hop throughout the entire final battle and the vibe went crazy! Bas1 said on Friday that SEC always did their best when the opponent didn’t matter, and all that mattered was our vibe between crew. The energy was so powerful it infected the entire room in conjunction with all the efforts of the beautiful souls in the building. Every person that danced that night, every Massive Monkee Celebrating, every Bboy jam first-timer utilized us as conduits to their collective spirits, and in conversational exchange with Vancouver’s/Korea’s Now or Never Crew, we spirit bombed the shit out of that fuckin place. Lean put the icing on the cake with the most well placed Wu-Tang track in recent history, which set off the entire jam to go apeshit. Inspiring.

Strife.TV’s top sets from MM Day (see end 3:20)

We won the jam, danced together on stage in victory, took photos, smiled, and watched Artson burn a footwork cypher as the final music faded out. Each piece, perfectly fitted as it was meant to be. A smile overtook me for the rest of the night. I had the conscious moment of telling myself to enjoy this as it is happening, as I always try to do; to be fully present on the low dips and at the greatest peaks.

* * * * *

Coming home and dealing with my poison ivy this week has been difficult. Trying to hold myself to the standard of every mother and father out there who although being sick still find time to love, parent, and bless their child with their energy, I told myself I should be able to do work while my body is in pain. I failed miserably. Maybe I’m underestimating being poisoned but I wanted to do more. I found myself tonight, when I started writing this blog piece, in an upswing of positive momentum back into my hustle. It’s been nice to lounge about at home but now it’s time to get it in.

I left Seattle with more fire to organize the Style Elements Anniversary, having seen the quality, care, and professionalism of the work that Massive Monkees do. They’ve branched into private, public, non-profit, commercial, and really all fields, and in an upcoming StylelementsTV interview will share with you the wealth of their wisdom on how they do it. I had an enlightening conversation with Jeromeskee for the first time the Sunday after the jam, and it left me with a true sense of what a great event should be. It’s not about the prize money, or the number of attendees, it’s about the quality of experience for the people and the dancers that will leave them talking about it for ages to come! It’s about that spirit that culminated in that Wu-Tang cypher at the end of the jam. That’s what I want to bring to San Jose this coming June 21-23, 2013 weekend. That is my mission. To serve the community that has given me my spirituality and happiness, and to uphold the grand legacy that Style Elements built for me to expand upon. Expect the greatness y’all. The fire is lit.

Style Elements 19th Year Anniversary June 21-23 Weekend FB event page

Top 8 vs Moon Patrol

Top 4 vs TheM Team