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Breakin' Brass: where breakdancing gets bolder

B-boys and brass bands aren’t obvious bedfellows but it seems the combination works

When you’re picking tunes to dance to, a trombone solo might not be top of the list. But then you clearly haven’t been to Breakin’ Brass, the B-boy battle where dancers compete backed by a brass band.

We’re not talking march tunes and colliery bands here, more like serious funk and breakbeats courtesy of Brassroots, a group led by Brooklynite Jerome Harper. Harper started up Breakin’ Brass two years ago with Leeds B-boy crew Attention To Detail, and it now runs every three months at Shoreditch’s Rich Mix. It’s the first event of its kind and it rocks. ‘It’s the energy, more than anything,’ says dancer Jamie Bell. ‘The crowd feed off the vibe of the live band and the dancers feed off that energy.

'The coolest thing about it is the symbiotic relationship between dancing and the brass,’ says Harper. ‘It’s all really physical – the energy that you put through your horn or the energy that you put into your body.’

The quality is high and they’ve even had dancers coming over from Spain and Belgium to take part. Sixteen dancers go through elimination rounds – eight are invited, eight qualify on the night – and the band comes on for the final few rounds when just the top talent is left.

‘The atmosphere’s ridiculous,’ says Harper. ‘By the time we come on everybody’s picked their favourites and they’re holding their breath to see what happens. I can’t hold my breath, obviously,’ he adds, ‘I’m playing the trombone.’

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