Nepal: what does it mean to be a B-boy?


KATHMANDU — Walking in the streets of Kathmandu, you may have spotted a group of youngsters doing some eye-popping moves, dancing to up tempo, hip-hop beats. Who are they?

Outside the realm of tradition, another type of dance culture is emerging in Nepal. B-boying, short for break-boying or breaking, originated sometime during the 1970s in New York and has finally made its way to the Himalayan nation.

“Dance is freedom, we do not look at someone’s limits; we try to bring the best out of every member of the crew,” Sanjit Gurung, member of the Everest Crew, told the Baltic Review. For Sanjit, a dancer in his 20s, B-boying is a never-say-no spirit which over the last decade has become an important trend in youth culture and street life.

The Everest Crew consists of eight members, ranging in age from 14 to 27 years old, having a minimum of 3 years’ experience under their belt. The members of the crew found a commonality in their dedication to dancing and the ideas surrounding it.

Suraj Thapa Magar was studying in Kathmandu three years ago when he first saw a group of guys doing some incredible stunt-dancing across the road. Fifteen at the time, Suraj went and stood there – hypnotized by their moves.

“I knew I wanted to become a B-boy after seeing that first dance battle. At the beginning it was very hard because I felt that I didn’t have enough strength. Now, I get energy from the crowd,” the 18-year-old dancer explained.

In the B-boying scene, the guys are always open to teaching newbies. Rupesh Maharjan, 14, the youngest member of the Everest Crew, started experimenting with B-boying three years ago and the essence of music has never left him since.

B-boying “is an all-body workout”, but it’s an act that requires more than just brute strength. It involves creativity, dedication, and above all, training to master the necessary skills. The Everest crew trains up to four hours a day; at no time is someone not stretched, mentally and physically, to the limit.

Each member brings a different skill to the table; their passion has afforded them several performance opportunities, both in Nepal and abroad. The Everest Crew is in fact the first B-boying group from the Himalayan nation, to ever have made it to the international scene. In 2009 they participated in the Seacon Street Challenge in Thailand, followed by two Battle of the Year South East Asia competitions in 2011 and 2013.

“We are proud of representing Nepal abroad. After competing at international level we are training harder in order to improve and get ready for the years to come,” Nishanta Gauchan, one of the leaders of the Everest Crew explained.

If until a few years ago B-boys were negatively labeled as “monkey” dancers, things are very different today, with this style of street dance becoming increasingly popular among Nepali youth.

Over the years, B-boying has also challenged gender inequality and cultural norms with the rapidly increasing number of girls taking up the dance form in Nepal. The growth of B-boying can easily be mapped with the rising number of young Nepalese sharing their moves and learning new ones through television and social networking websites

Back flips, whirling legs, heads spinning, the intricate footwork and distinctive poses;
B-boying is a lot more than this. When the music stops pumping as the volume is turned low, what remains is your attitude.

“You should not forget who you are. Know yourself, try to be creative, original and remember to respect other crews,” is Nishanta Gauchan’s message to aspirant b-boys.

He concluded by saying that in the Nepali context, parents should give more weight to their children’s dreams. “Parents often put pressure on their children failing to understand why they are into B-boying. They should believe more in their children’s passions as when they dance, they do it with their hearts.”

All photos copyright: Everest Crew

Bibbi Abruzzini
Bibbi Abruzzini is a foreign correspondent for the BALTIC REVIEW and international news agencies in South Asia. She is Italian, grew up in Brussels and has reported from several countries, including Belgium, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia, Croatia, France, India, Italy, Lebanon, Nepal, Tunisia,Turkey and the US - writing largely about social and development issues.

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