They popped to the hard beats, grooved to the house music and battled like men on the front line — and one of them did it with red lipstick.
Sigi’s Cabaret, in the Tivoli, became ladies’ night March 5 — but the boys still came out. Under the dim lighting, girls from all over the city danced all styles during the 2nd Annual Queenz of Hip-Hop battle.
“In Sigi’s, it felt like a real underground room, it is a nice and intimate setting,” Hip-Hop Congress President and University of Colorado Denver senior Spenser Bernard said. “Everybody’s really close to each other. The only downfall is it limited how many people we could fit inside, and we couldn’t have more than two-on-two battles.”
UCD’s Hip-Hop Congress hosted the event to recognize Women’s HERstory month, paying homage to all of the great women in the hip-hop community.
“It was an idea — since it’s Women’s History Month — to honor women in a culture that is male dominated,” Bernard said. “There are so many males doing [hip-hop] right now. It was an attempt to show people that women can do it too.”
More than 300 people crammed into Sigi’s for the event, bringing with them 424 canned goods to be donated to the Auraria Food Bank.
Local artist Bianca Mikahn, an active contributor in Colorado’s Hip-Hop community, hosted the event. Mikahn also volunteers with Check Your Head, an organization that creates environments for youth to talk about and understand themselves.
“It was my first time being involved,” Mikahn said. “It was really fun to keep something like that cohesive with the DJs, dancers and the energy … In our patriarchal society it’s really cool to have the ladies lifted up. Everyone was so positive and all the elements were represented.”
Those elements were DJs, live art, poetry, live performances, hip-hop’s history and battling – there was even a photo booth with a pink background for dancers to strike poses or hold freezes in their pictures. DJ Kool-Aid worked the turntables during a couple battles, but the ladies worked the ones-and-twos, including DJs Manizer and Shor-T. The main events were the Octagon, the Bonnie and Clyde, and the 7-to-Smoke battles.
Dancers were confined to the space inside eight cones arranged in an octagon connected by caution tape. They couldn’t move the rope or else they would be eliminated, and nearly all the competitors were too tall to fit inside of the area without bending some part of their body.
During the second battle, the teams were comprised of a boy and girl. To make it harder, the pairs were picked at random — so dancers did not know their partners until they were called up. DJ Kool-Aid added rhythmic difficulty by mixing in songs like “It’s Raining Men” and “Livin’ La Vida Loca.”
“I really liked the Bonnie and Clyde competition because it allowed for all styles of dance,” Bernard said. “The partners were picked at random, so it’s fun to watch.”
Audrey Gibson, who has been dancing for six years, competed at Queenz of Hip-Hop this year for the first time. She popped her way around the dance floor wearing red lipstick during the Bonnie and Clyde battle, but was knocked out in the second round.
“I was pretty bummed,” said Gibson. “If you get paired with someone who’s never competed before it’s kind of hard. But you’ve got to give everyone a try.”