Interview – ‘What You Know’ Talks Block Parties

Block parties are back and here to stay! And when it’s held by those who know what’s up in the art scenes, you know it’s going to be a beautiful chaos of great dancing and vibes.

Courtesy of Donovan

From dance classes and recitals to freestyle jams, battles, and choreography competitions — we all know the different dance events that bring us together. However, sometimes we just want to experience dance as a means to unwind and de-stress; where there is no need for rehearsals and we still get to enjoy making connections. That’s where block parties come in!

Courtesy of Khairul (@khairuliilman)

A block party is essentially a gathering to relax and get to know people better. More specifically, it provides dancers with the platform to freely enjoy music, food, culture and dance while socialising and getting acquainted with other dancers in the scene. At the chosen venue, food and drinks will be provided and DJs and emcees are invited for banger tunes and to give the full party experience.

Block parties are neither new nor foreign to the dance scene. Maybe you have heard of one or attended them yourself! Here are some of the block parties that have taken place in Singapore.

Solid Gold

Courtesy of Solid Gold Production

Established in 2014, Solid Gold Production is known for holding monthly dance events and parties. From Zouk to Cherry Discotheque, Solid Gold invites guest emcees and DJs (alongside their resident DJ Koflow) while allowing attendees to party and connect.

Courtesy of Solid Gold Production

These parties can be themed to highlight particular cultures or to simply add more variety to the atmosphere. For example, Solid Gold collaborated with Recognize Studios to organise a Dancehall battle known as Mash Up Di Place. Following this event, the after-party featured Reggae music to fit the genre!

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Artistate is a dance academy that aims to equip students with the knowledge to excel in the dance industry. They offer street dance programs, courses and classes of varying levels. They also put together events such as theatre productions, competitions, camps, performances and… you guessed it, block parties! Artistate has hosted multiple block parties so far — two of them themed ‘Back To The 90s’ and ‘Ladies’ Night’.

Courtesy of Artistate

They held their most recent block party in June this year, with the theme ‘Y2K’. Now, while these parties are themed, they are not limited to a specific genre. Artistate aims to put a modern spin on traditionally Hip Hop block parties with guest performances, showcases, cyphers, and exhibition battles. Most importantly, it’s a space for you to groove with your friends, both old and new!

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EV Dance

Dance company EV Dance also hosted a block party in honour of B-Boy Mahmud. The event celebrates his return to the scene and as an instructor at EV through two nights of fun and fresh music. Cleverly named a ‘Block Parteh’ as they served Teh Tarik at the event too!

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Zendyll Music

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Zendyll is a local music agency and record label responsible for Majulah Fest, a series of events that celebrate the music industry in Singapore. Part of Majulah Fest was the 2-day Majulah Block Party.

Courtesy of Francis Fariz (@francisflyhigh)

The Majulah Block Party is a youth festival featuring food and beverages, live music and live dance performances. Artists and performance line-up included R&B artist Feez, producer RIIDEM, rapper AE$OP CA$H and Dreamfellas.

Feez and STNY Brothers. Courtesy of Francis Fariz (@francisflyhigh)

Panel sessions were held with individuals from the music and dance industries as they shared their thoughts on how young and rising creatives can leave an impression on Singapore’s entertainment scene. Our Minister for Culture, Community and Youth, Minister Edwin Tong, also made an appearance on the panel!

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What You Know

Starting out as a battle for dancers representing their respective dance clubs, What You Know (WYK) caters to the up-and-coming dancers in Singapore. In Volume 1, they hosted three types of battles: 2 v 2 (School Category), 1 v 1 (Open Category) and 8-to-smoke exhibition battles.

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In Volume 2, they expanded their event with judges’ workshops and ended it off with a block party. While the battles are only open to current students and fresh graduate alumni, the block party is open to the public. The POLY-ITE battle emphasises that dance is for everyone and hopes that the party provides a safe space for dancers to cypher and celebrate.

Courtesy of Donovan

Speaking of the WYK Block Party, we were able to chat with the founder and organiser, Clemens Chua, for some insight and inspiration behind organising their block party.

Clemens Chua. Courtesy of Clemens Chua

Dreamfellas: With the second edition of What You Know, what inspired you to have a Block Party concept in your event?

Clemens Chua: We were looking at the Singaporean dance scene and realised that there weren’t too many block parties happening following the pandemic. Before the Covid-19 pandemic hit, we had block parties like Solid Gold happening weekly at Cherry. But after Covid-19, we didn’t have many block parties aside from the occasional block parties by Artistate and EV Dance Studio. We wanted to provide a different block party experience that could cater to the new generation of student dancers who have never been to a block party.

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DFL: What is different about the Block Party, as compared to the battles that you held the day prior?

Clemens: It’s hard to compare a block party to a battle; both events have completely different objectives and they are held differently. It’s definitely about the atmosphere and the vibes that our participants feel in the room — one is of a party origin and the other is of a competitive nature. At our block party, participants aren’t compelled to show the best versions of themselves, they can let loose, let go and meet new people to dance with.

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DFL: Do you feel that Singapore should have more Block Parties? Why/Why not?

Clemens: Definitely. Singapore’s dance scene is still relatively new, we have many dancers who are still growing and entering the scene. Being competitive is completely fine and it’s good to aggressively push individual skills as well as the scene collectively, but sometimes it’s also good to sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labour for a night. A block party does just that — being able to let go, enjoy the music and the company around you, and make new connections with people that you normally wouldn’t meet.

Courtesy of Donovan and Khairul (@khairuliilman)

DFL: What were the challenges you faced creating the Block Party?

Clemens: I think some of the challenges we faced in having our block party was really just making sure that we were able to deliver what we promised. The vibes, the music, everything. We were hoping to be able to provide a good space for a good time and we believe we did just that. Of course, logistically we have tons of things to get for the block party so that was definitely a challenge as well. I had to send out my logistics guys to get more items on the same day of the block party because we realised we ran out the previous day.

Dreamfellas and What You Know teams. Courtesy of Khairul (@khairuliilman)

If you were present either day at WYK, you’ll know that it was definitely not an event and party to be missed! Keep a lookout for the next WYK event — a little birdie told us ‘What You Know Vol. 3’ will be happening later this year on 10 December. Pull up and you won’t be disappointed with the community’s love and support for dance!

With the pandemic restrictions being majorly lifted and the gradual return of block parties, dancers will now have another avenue to enjoy and celebrate dance. Especially after being isolated and turning to online classes, it’s high time dancers get to interact and connect with one another in person.

Will we see you at the next block party?

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