Red Bulletin Magazine International

Red Bulletin: They Know They Can Dance



Red Bull Beat Battle… eight different dance crews representing the cream of SA’s urban dance genres from hip-hop and pantsula, to b-boy and sbhujwa faced off in a packed-to-the-rafters night at Bassline in Jozi. There could be only one winner…


Rooting for the little guy... it feels good, doesn’t it? Righteous even. Odds are the neutrals among us inevitably support the underdog when moved to make a choice.

And Hlaks would almost certainly have moved you. At the 2012 Red Bull Beat Battle, this pantsula dance crew from Orange Farm township were up against it on every level.

In terms of urban street dance, pantsula is about as old school as it gets. Born in the townships, this uniquely South African dance form had its heyday back in the ’80s. With kwaito music as a backtrack, pantsula was the expressive dance that accompanied the social and political rebellion beginning to change our society. It’s a quick, bouncy style with blurred, flicky foot movements and synchronised handclaps. A tap-dancing-meets-riverdance-on-speed-meets-traditional-African dance is probably the best description for Westernised sensibilities.

“…in Reptilez we try to do it in our own style…”

Their personal circumstances are not easy either. Orange Farm is one of the poorer South African townships. What essentially began as a squatter camp for workers evicted from a nearby farm has, two decades later, grown into a sprawl of iron shacks home to well over a million people. It’s the country’s largest informal settlement and, as vibrant and industrious as this close-knit community is, life here remains hard.

And finally that ‘little guy’ descriptor is not just a figure of speech. They actually are little. Dancers Nkosana Mlauzi, Colin Radebe and Thabang Motaung are slight men. They’re skinny and not taller than 1.6m.

Unlike the Reptilez.

These guys are big. Both in stature and attitude. A hip-hop crew out of the comfortable suburb of Edenvale, the four-man outfit are tall and muscular. At least three of them are. One is a bit smaller. He goes by the name of Mini.

Long-time friends who have been living, hanging out, and dancing with each other for the past seven years, Reptilez are one of the favourites to win Red Bull Beat Battle. They are the epitome of a successful, bang-on-trend urban dance crew. It’s what they do for a living. Sprkz, Cobrah, Nicholas and Mini bring a level of professionalism and application to the party the likes of Hlaks are unable to match. In their hip-hop- inflected accents, they say things like “…working on our marketing skills and “…developing Reptilez as a brand”. 

Read the full story in July's issue of The Red Bulletin.

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