In the Plaza and parks of Cuzco bboys toprock to the rhythmic sound of HipHop before dropping to downrock, a windmill, and head spin. These could be young men from Cuzco practicing streetdance moves like in cities of Europe or the United States or they could be tourists showing their stuff in the Inca City.
In any case breakdance is part of life in the Imperial City. At the important youth project Sipas Wayna sponsored by the Asociación Pukllasunchis, where graffiti flowers on walls, the basic steps and power moves of this athletic form are taught and practiced as part of a project to keep youth involved and alienation and loss at bay.
In local clubs battles are organized, such as the Inka Bboy Battle. In them a young man will enter moving with grace to set his rhythm before dropping to the floor with athletic moves to show his skill and hard work as well as attempt to intimidate the other men. Once he is done, smoothly almost without a gap, another young man comes on and moves through his set with vigor, a touch of gymnastics, and suddenly appears on his feet while toprocking hand to crotch. Another bboy picks up the challenge and so on until all have shown what they have.
Cuzco has a strong culture of athletics and sport which includes dance of all styles. In rushes of testosterone the bodies of young men develop and show power and ability throughout the city as they develop groups of friends and networks of acquaintances that will serve them as they move into the other stages of life. These webs of relationships spin and weave throughout Cuzco’s society where young men pass and bump fists.
Tourists move through the city, their minds on the reminders of the Incas or the monuments of Spanish colonialism, while Cuzco’s youth connect and disconnect in urban styles that criss-cross the globe and yet do work here to make ties and bonds that let the city live.
Their bodies sweat in the torrent of youth. The youth who practice breakdance say that they burn a ton of calories each day while working on their series of moves. To do their acrobatics and choreographies they need energy and nourishment. As they throw off sparks of energy going to ground in a crab or a cricket, sometimes they float and sometimes freeze, but always they drain their body of energy and work up sweat.
Nearby they have water, maybe an energy drink. They also stop when exhausted from testing their worth against other youth for food. This could be snacks they carry or a stop for streetfood such as anticuchos, or even enter a guarique for quick extras.
Cuzco’s culture of male athleticism turns into its culture of food as people move from home to the street, schools, institutes or clubs.
HipHop pulses in Cuzco. You see the graffiti on walls, the styles in people’s dress. You hear bits of the beat from earphones to ears and you note urban spaces turn to performance and competition some of which even makes its way to YouTube. Cuzco is alive and it shows.