Don’t say we can’t keep a promise! You may have seen out interview preview with Bboy Blond here on Ed and Ruby TV, where we notified you that a very exciting (extended version) was on its way. Well, it has arrived! Below is part one of our chat with the world-renowned dancer. We had such an amazing time getting to know Blond, we’ve had to break our interview up into two parts, so stay tuned over the weekend for more great reads!
Interview: Bboy Blond, break dancer, part 1
In the world of dance, ‘Bboy Blond’ is synonymous with explosive breaking moves. The 29-year old Korean break dancer has mastered the art of ‘power moves’ over his 15-year career while he – as he describes it – is simply doing what he loves. Famous for his strength, it’s easier to list the countries Youngkwang Joung hasn’t showcased his dance talents to admiring fans in, rather than detail out the destinations he has!
Together with his bboy group, Extreme Crew, Blond cemented his name into bboy history in 2007 by winning Battle Of The Year; one of the world’s longest running and biggest break dance events, with Extreme.
In recent years, Bboy Blond has moved from Korea to start a new life in Sydney, Australia and it’s here we had the privilege of discovering more about the dancer, including his thoughts on the Australian dance scene, his big move to Australia, and the inside story to his ever-evolving career and personal life.
Originally from Korea, you’ve been in Australia for almost three years now. How are you finding it?
I really like this country, it’s much more relaxed, but the bboy scene is much smaller than what I’m used to back home.
What spurred your move to Australia?
My wife and I just got married and we were looking to start a new life and meet new people together. We wanted a new lifestyle and, at the same time, I could feel my body was tired from dancing, so we thought it was a good time for the new challenge and scene.
I was scared and nervous to move to Australia, but also very excited. I’ve travelled before but never moved countries, and I couldn’t speak English very well so everything was going to be new! I knew no one here, so I was a little scared.
Why did you start bboying?
It was my brother who started dancing first. Being the younger brother, I was always following in his footsteps asking him, “Where you going? What are you doing?”, all the time. Once I followed him to practice and he was doing some waving and freezes, so I tried it and it was fun!
When did dance transition from a fun pastime to professional activity?
I’d never been serious about anything before I started dancing. In the beginning, it was a challenge, but once I tried some new freezes and some power moves, it was like I was in a whole different world! It made me happy every time I learned new moves which made me take it more seriously.
How did you get the name Bboy Blond?
When I was young I dyed my hair blonde for fun. All my friends were saying it suited me, so I kept doing it. At a competition one day everyone kept asking who the ‘blonde’ guy was. When I first started dancing, no bboys in Korea had a dance nickname, we just called each other by our real names, when I came back from the army, everyone all of a sudden had a bboy name! So my friend Baek told me I should be Bboy Blond, and it stuck. I’m not sure I like the name. At the time I couldn’t speak English and I didn’t think of what the word ‘blonde’ could mean to someone from a different country. When most people think ‘blonde’, they think of a blonde-haired beach girl, not a Korean man!
Tell us about joining Extreme Crew, your first crew and one of the world’s biggest.
I first started dancing with my friends Bboy Blue and Hoti while we were living in Busan City. There wasn’t any real Bboy crews in Busan at that time, there were a few hip hop dancers, but not a bboy team. At one point, other bboys in Busan City tried to organise a big crew of united dancers. At first they scouted Blue and Hoti who I was with, they soon realised I didn’t have my own crew so they said we could all join together. I wasn’t really that good at the time though.
What was it like to be a part of Extreme Crew?
That’s hard to answer because I’ve only ever know two crews, Extreme and SKB. I don’t really know how other crews train and work together. I do know that for both crews it was never ‘work’, just friendship – we’re all family.
In the beginning we had some problems in Extreme as everyone wanted different things from the group. But as we spent more time together, we understood each other more. We knew what everyone was thinking, or what they were going to say. We had to learn to work together to make things easier. You have to learn to understand your crew when you spend so much time together.
How much did they help you become the bboy you are?
A lot! Having a crew to help you out is everything. If Extreme weren’t there for me, I wouldn’t have continued dancing after my time in the army, where I hadn’t been able to practice for two years, and had lost most of my dance skills. They said “You are Blond, you are my crew, just come back and enjoy dancing, you have to join us.”
What did Extreme Crew think of your plans to move to Australia?
Extreme is like a family, I spent half of my life with them and they understand why I moved to Australia. In the beginning they weren’t sure. “Why would you move there?” they asked, “There’s no crew there, we are here, why are you going there?” I still talk to them a lot and we still catch up on dancing. They’re happy and I’m really happy, too.
You’ve joined SKB crew since moving to Australia. Did this create conflict with Extreme?
Not at all. Originally I wasn’t thinking of joining or finding a new crew, but SKB reminded me a lot of Extreme. We’re all good friends and look out for each other.
How many hours a day do you train? How has this changed since you moved to Australia?
There’s been a big difference in my training since moving. When I was young and in high school, I was training all day. When I woke up, I would go to the studio and practice with others, heading home around 10pm. Since finishing studying, and spending time in the army, I’m noticing that I’m getting older because my body is feeling older when I train. I still pushed hard though, doing approximately four hours a day with one day off a week. Since moving to Australia I’m training two or three hours a day, four days a week. I try to practice as much as I can whenever I have time, I have to train harder with the time that I have here.
What do you think of the Australian dance scene?
Honestly, in the beginning, I was disappointed because the scene was very small. There were no big ‘jams’ and the bboys didn’t train very hard, they would just sit down and think most of the time. I would say “What are you doing? You don’t come here to think, you have to practice!” They’re starting to get there now, they train a lot more and a lot harder, and there are more ‘jams’ and competitions coming up.
A lot of the dancers and bboys here have the wrong idea. They blame the small scene on there not being enough sponsors or supporters. When we started in Korea, we had no sponsors or supporters either. Once we were at a really good level, we got more sponsors because they couldn’t believe what we could do.
Is this the same for the world scene?
There’s a big difference now. When I started bboying, there wasn’t anything like YouTube which has made a big difference! Back then we had the internet, but not many videos, so it was hard to see what the rest of the world was doing at the time. I remember when I started to practice hopping air flares and I watched a Freestyle Session video with Bboy Ruen, I had never seen him before and I was in shock. This guy was doing the same thing I was! These days, you can watch anything on YouTube and see what this guy or that guy is doing all over the world – it’s easy to get inspired.
What do you think of dancers pushing to get sponsorships and trying to make a life of dancing?
You can find so many good dancers and bboys online. If these sponsors look at them, and then look at you – why would they sponsor you if you’re not at the highest level? Why would they give you money, or products, or clothes when they could give that to someone who can represent them better? Don’t blame sponsors for not supporting you if you won’t improve yourself first. Some seem to think if they got a sponsor they would automatically improve. Red Bull sponsors an ‘All-Stars’ team and you can see why – they’re amazing! A lot of dancers think they’re bigger than what they are.
It’s harder in Australia because we’re not so well known here, but it doesn’t mean you can’t work on your name and image here. Sure it would be good if you can go and represent internationally, but if you can’t because of money or some other reason, then work on your name in your home country. If you’re out there winning every competition, people will know you. I haven’t seen someone like Bboy Rush dance, but he has made his name big here that even I know him.
Stay tuned for part 2 of our interview with Bboy Blond, like us on Facebook so you don’t miss out! We chat with Blond on his time in the army, how he developes new moves, his advice to the younger generation of dancers and even marriage! But for now, enjoy a video showcasing Bboy Blond from our good friend, Frace Luke Mercado.