Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

14/03/2015 - 14/03/2015

Production Details

SwagFest is a blockbuster urban event for the young & old. New Zealand’s top dancers and urban music producers will battle for cash and crowd approval in a 1-of-a-kind night! With live DJs, MCs, artists and performers, get ready to be wowed by a night of spontaneity, skill and fun.


$5 entry to the Meteor, 1 Victoria Street Hamilton – for location see Google Maps: 

Youth , Hiphop , Dance ,

1 hour +

Battle culture a masculine affair

Review by Dr Debbie Bright 16th Mar 2015

This is really an entire event, rather than simply a performance. This is very different from most other theatre experiences and a refreshing immersion for me. I am so glad to be part of it.

The audience, almost all males in teens and twenties, queue out onto the street to get into Swagfest by 7pm (the advertised starting time). Skater boy shoes, clothes, hats and hoodies. Small charge, maximum fun. Potential involvement for all. A hand stamp rather than a ticket. A few girls are there to perform, a few to support. A small number of interested adults, parents and siblings hang out in groups waiting. But mostly boys and young men. The crowd, a mixture of dance contestants, supporters and other audience members, gathers in the foyer. Many greet each other with chest bump or hand grasp, and rock to music of a DJ set up in one of the booths. Some form circles inside which dancers practice their moves and good-naturedly hassle and rib each other. Snacks and soft drinks are for sale. The theatre doors open at 7.30 and the crowd surges in to take up seats on bleachers, couches and the floor. There is a DJ at his desk, a couch for the judges and white strips on the floor to mark out the circle in which the dancers will perform – audience members slide right up to this line. A half-minute’s silence is held for a fellow dancer who has recently died.

A rapper performs. Two highly charged comperes, in mock Mexican dress, explain the rules and safety. Talk of battles: the names of the teams are drawn out of a hat to determine the pairs of teams battling against each other for the first round.  The order of team pairings is marked up on a white board. The three judges (two men and one woman, all advanced performers) enter and sit. The contest begins. Each team has three dancers. As the teams alternate, each dancer, with just 30 seconds to impress the judges, brings his or (occasionally) her best moves and most impressive tricks. Nerves, passion, strength, speed, agility, flexibility, shyness, flamboyance, some hugely difficult moves and fast footwork, and, from the more confident, approaches to the opposite team of mock aggression humour, mockery and bravado. A range of styles; solo and group. A battle ends and the players all hug each other. The audience is asked to count down from 3 to 1 and the judges indicate, with outstretched arms, which team wins. And so the number of teams is gradually reduced to a final of just 2 teams. The dancing becomes more intense and complex. The improvising both to the DJ’s choice of tracks, and within and between teams, becomes more skilled, full-on and often very funny. The music is loud, the energy extreme, the crowd hyped, the comperes’ patter animated and loud.  When the judges’ vote is a draw, there is a 30-second dance out by one individual from each team.  

At the breaks between rounds we are entertained by a 12 year old girl singer, a dance ‘legend’, and each of the judges. Before the final round, there is a change of pace. Local samba band, Sambatron performs in the break and then provides the music for the final round. Because this music is unknown to either team, the battle is now more equally fought.  The crowd stands and yells for their favourites, the volume is cranked. The theatre heaves with noise and action. The winning team is decided, celebrated and rewarded.

Tu meke! Awesome!


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