On March 31st 2011, the R16 team boarded the airplane in Seoul Korea, heading to our first National Qualifier in the city of Vientiane, Laos. The R-16 Team consists of Chief Director "Johnjay Chon", and Judges "Dyzee" of Supernaturalz from Canada, and "The End" of Gamblerz of Korea. Laos has never had the opportunity to throw an event qualifier of such prestige and we were excited to see how their first National Tournament would turn out.
Upon arrival, we were greeted at the airport by AJ and Lee of the Laobangfai crew, who brought us directly to the Novotel hotel, one of the best hotels in the city. Shortly after they took us to eat traditional Laos food which we found to be delicious. After eating, we went to the Laobangfai Dance Academy to greet the local bboys. The Laobangfai Dance Academy is a huge space for all types of dance, which used to be a rollerskating rink, converted into a dance academy. There were over 50 bboys that came to greet us, using the traditional hands flat together, head bowed, "Sabai Dee". It's so awesome how B-boying translates into differrent languages and cultures, each of us connected to eachother through this artform, and worldwide culture. We spoke to them about what each one of us was looking for in the panel, then retired back to the hotel to get some rest for the big event.
The next day, we were picked up and brought to one of their local sponsors which is an awesome French/Laos fusion Restaurant. The owner is a French lady, completely fluent in the Lao language, and the all the food was spectacular. We were allowed to order anything we wanted, and we took full advantage of the opportunity.
After brunch, we went to the venue which was walking distance away. When we got there, we were suprised to see the size of the venue. It was the Laos National Culture Hall, which is the biggest venue in all of Laos, owned by the government, and it was decorated on the outside with gold paint and beatifull craftmanship. When we went inside, the main foyee had a DJ table set up, with an R16 floor, as well as multiple vendors booths, snacks and food. This is where they had the qualifiers for the 7 to smoke and the Popping battles. These battles where hype and the crowd was really into it. After the qualifiers, we went into the main room and the size of the auditorium was gigantic and could seat 1500 people!
As the flood of people came in and completely filled the entire auditorium, the battles begun, starting with the 7 to smoke, followed by the 1 on 1 popping battle. These battles gave the crowd a taste of what was to come. Next was the first round of the crew battles. These battles carried throughout the event, showing to the spectators, a hope and future for Bboying and popping in Laos. It was an awesome, and long event, starting at 3pm and ending at 11pm.
Overall, it was a great event, and start to the R16 South East Asia Tour. This event was a historic event and sets a mark in Laos bboying history. It shows that a country, no matter how small, and hidden from the bboy community, can rise up and organize an event of this magnitude, even gaining the goverments support and multiple sponsors. Through hard work, faith, and nationalistic bboys with a dream and passion to help their own bboy community grow, we can achieve anything. Now the bboy world will acknowledge the Laos B-boying community. Acknoledgement equals respect. Respect is what the R stands for in R-16.