Toronto-native John Dyer arrived in Dubai in search of gainful employment. This he found; along with a burgeoning breakdance scene.
The latter discovery was no accident – John came here a seasoned b-boy and wanted to to pursue his passion here in the UAE. ‘I’d heard there were a few pro breakdancers here,’ says John. ‘So I searched online and found a YouTube video of some guys performing. I wrote to the email address, but didn’t hear back from anyone.’
Luckily, John’s chance had not passed, and a few months after being in Dubai, a friend put him in touch with local b-boys Amin and Tommy, who in turn introduced him Tamir and B-Boy Yufo – the core of Urban Roots Society (URS).
John soon found himself hanging out and dancing with the URS crew.
‘When I first went down, I expected to be going to a gym or something, but we just turned up in front of this apartment and started dancing on this marble surface,’ recalls John. ‘But it was cool, so we just got on with it and spent the whole afternoon there. As we danced, the guys would be SMSing their high-school buddies who’d come and go throughout the afternoon – watching us or joining in.’
From this first session, John could sense that there was a great deal of local enthusiasm for the sport and thus great scope for it to develop. Under the guidance of URS – who have long been the driving force behind breakdancing in the UAE – this potential is fast being realised. With the help of John, Tamir and Yufo , who have dedicated themselves to grooming young talent.
‘They had a heart to heart with the younger guys and said that if they were going to do it, they had to do it for real – to practice in their spare time, to live and breathe breakdancing,’ says John.
And the results are beginning to show. In late 2009, URS held the UAE National B-boy Championships, supported by Red Bull. The competition received such overwhelming interest, the URS had to open it up to other countries in the region, such as Oman and Bahrain. This enthusiasm prompted Red Bull to put its weight behind quarterly b-boy events, which John hopes will further raise the profile of the sport – and one day endow the UAE with its own global champion.
For free and informal breakdance lessons, see the Facebook page: URS-Bboy Sessions.
Mountain biking and road biking are all very well, but the coolest kids on two wheels are, arguably, BMXers.
Dutch native Philippe Vossenberg arrived in Dubai five years ago to find no more than three BMXers on the scene. Today, he says there are more than 50.
This surge in popularity is largely due to the exposure BMX is enjoying from the media – a regular fixture in the X-Games, covered by ESPN and now even an Olympic event, more and more people are looking to get involved. What’s more, you don’t have to leave the city to get your ride on.
Ride bike shop are the driving force behind UAE BMX and Philippe hopes that in a few years we could see an Emirati compete on the international stage. Watch this space…
Dubai’s BMX contingent meets at the Dubai Festival City Skatepark every Wednesday at 7pm.
Next time you’re taken by the urge to throw yourself off a building in Abu Dhabi, best track contact UAE Parkour. These chaps find fun in running about the city jumping off and over things… often very high things.
This alternative urban adventure sport originated in France and soon became a global phenomenon. Since Abu Dhabi has plenty of high buildings and the like, it’s a perfect place for parkour. At time of writing, the capital is the only place where UAE Parkour practise, but as soon as there’s sufficient interest in Dubai, expect to see plenty of people bounding about in the most unexpected of places.
Those interested in getting involved in Parkour need only contact Steve on 050 721 8169 or check out www.uaeparkour.moonfruit.com. Lessons are currently free, but, depending on demand, a small fee will be charged to go towards gym rental.