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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Former UMass Boston Student Loves B-Boying

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Vu takes a break from practicing on the first floor of the Campus Center to pose for a picture.

“It was against my vice principal, and he smoked the shit out of me,” said Khai Vu about the first time he breakdance-battled. Vu was a freshman in high school and had just started getting into breakdancing after seeing a couple of music videos and a segment on a TV show.
“It had a bunch of Korean B-boys doing some crazy power moves, and I was like ‘wow I need to get into that,'” said Vu about the TV segment. 
Now, almost seven years later, the 22-year-old’s biggest influence is that very same vice principal, who turned out to be an old school B-boy known as “Act 1.” The vice principal took Vu under his wing. Vu derived his B-boy name, Khai 1, from his mentor, who he calls “sensei.”
Vu practices four days a week for five hours at night with his crew at UMass. If you’ve ever stuck around UMass Boston past 6 p.m., you know what I’m talking about. That’s his crew, the Krazy 88’s, kicking, spinning, and dancing on the first floor of the Campus Center.
Vu feels the space in the Campus Center where he and his crew practice is sacred ground. “We like the spot so much we try to keep it a secret,” said Vu. The secret being kept from other B-boy crews who practice at open spots, where a number of other B-Boy crews might also be practicing.
The spot in the Campus Center became available in 2010, when Vu was a freshman studying psychology. During his freshman year, the practicing was paying off so much that Vu was asked to take part in a lot of battles.
With practicing and traveling to battles, which were sometimes out of state, Vu could no longer put enough time or effort into school and decided to put off his studies at UMass Boston. “I didn’t leave because I wanted to. I left because I got a lot of offers to go out and battle,” said Vu.
While he still can, Vu plans to stick with the B-boying. “I want to be able to do this while I’m young, and then I can go back to school when I’m older,” said Vu.
Battles Vu has competed in have taken place in Virginia, California, and England. “Honestly, I love battles. I love being in competitions,” said Vu.
In 2010, Vu was one of 16 regional qualifiers in a competition sponsored by Red Bull called “BC One,” the biggest competition he has been in.
“I knew I was an underdog, and I was going against some big heads. Really, really top name cats,” said Vu.
How’d he do?
“I choked. I choked so bad,” laughed Vu.
“My favorite moments are just practice. Training with my crew. You know what I mean? Being on the grind,” said Vu, who, when he’s not practicing or competing, is working 40-45 hours a week as an assistant manager at Pinkberry.
“I actually just clopened,” said Vu. “Clopening” being when you close the night before and open in the morning.
“It’s next to impossible to make a living off of B-boying in America,” said Vu, who was born in Allston and grew up in Dorchester. In Boston, battles happen wherever someone can throw an event. Halls are rented out, YMCA’s get booked, and then flyers are made. Facebook events are created, and the word gets out.
Compared to other B-boying scenes in the country, the Boston scene is small. “It’s nowhere compared to New York, Florida, or Cali. Those are the biggest scenes in America right now,” said Vu.
Vu has considered leaving Boston for places that might provide more prosperous opportunities for B-boying. “I really wanted to a long time ago, but Boston is my home,” said Vu, who says all the older, more experienced guys refer to him as “the hometown rookie.” They describe him as “the kid you can’t sleep on, you can’t fool around with.”
“I want to make it to the top from here. Not go out of the country and make it to the top because I couldn’t do it here,” said Vu.