The breakdancers of Kabul: Afghan youth busting moves - GulfToday

The breakdancers of Kabul: Afghan youth busting moves


Afghan breakdancers pose for a photograph at the French Cultural Centre in Kabul.

At the French Cultural Centre in Kabul, the group takes turns practising the basics -- toprocking, headspins, and freezes, while watching YouTube videos on their phones of famous b-boys like Lilou and Hong Ten for inspiration.

"Breakdancing gives us freedom. It frees our minds from stress," explains Murtaza Lomani, 23, from the Top Step crew.

The cultural centre is one of the few places in the Afghan capital where the mixed-gender Top Step crew are able to practise and feel relatively safe, Lomani says. But even here there are risks.

"Breakdancing gives us freedom. It frees our minds from stress," explains Murtaza Lomani.

Breaking barriers

For Heja Aalia, who says she is one of just four female breakdancers in Kabul, there are other worries.

"If I train outdoors in our society, people insult you," says Aalia, adding that many young women are interested in breakdancing but are unable to get permission from their families to try it out.

An Afghan breakdancer takes part in a practice session.

The sport first originated in New York's Bronx borough in the 1970s, where "breaking" along with rap music and graffiti art formed the pillars of hip hop culture that has gone on to dominate everything from pop music to fashion worldwide in the ensuing decades.

"Afghan society has changed a bit in recent years, the generations have changed and people are thinking positively," says Lomani, who admits that many laughed at their dance moves when they first started in 2011.

"But we have convinced some youth and now it is really good that we practise," he adds.

A group of Afghans have turned to breakdancing for stress relief and self expression.

Fellow Top Step member Obaidullah Koofi, 24, says he first got interested in breakdancing after seeing videos online.

"We learn our new moves from YouTube, and YouTube is our mentor because we do not have any trainer here to... teach us," he says.

However there are fears that it all may change soon.

Agence France-Presse

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