It's hard to describe the special kind of physics-defying energy that crackles through a room where Memphis street dancers are squaring off in friendly yet deadly serious competition. As is the case with any competitive sport, the players and fans get pumped up and excited before the big game. Caps get snatched, stinkeye is exchanged. But in the pitched heat of a Memphis-style dance battle, the pervasive vibe is one where maximum hype and maximum chill merge, while the competitors — mostly men, though that's changing — go up on pointe and glide around the room in their sneakers like they were skating on ice.
According to Charquentis Ford — better known in the Memphis dance world as OG Jaquency — "respect" is the name of the game. In addition to being a dance instructor and event promoter, Jaquency's a Gangsta Walk historian, able to reel off the names of the Bluff City's great street dancers, their disciples, and their disciples' disciples, like he was reciting a catechism. Although he's retired his annual Old School vs New School battle, Ford is back at the Hard Rock Cafe on Beale this week, bringing the city's best players together for the fifth installment of his Blood on the Dance Floor tag-team series.
While some dancers will still go one-on-one, Blood on the Dance Floor is built around two-person team battles to determine the new "Kingz of the Streets."