shebang! with LE TIGRE and TRACY AND THE PLASTICS at Lee's Palace (529 Bloor West), Tuesday (August 21). $12.50. 416-532-1598. Rating: NNNNN
it has the makings of an under-ground legend. A member of an all-girl breakdancing crew from the T-dot is chilling in Cleveland and happens to check out Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz's BS2000 show. After the gig, she's hanging out, waiting for her bus home, and sees AdRock outside the club chatting with some fans."A little voice spoke to me," says shebang!'s jenrock. "Something told me to go over and introduce myself and give him my crew's card. What did I have to lose? At worst, he'd throw it out, right? He had this jaw-dropped, eye-popping, goofy grin on his face when he read the card."
Adrock asked if he could pass on the card to his girlfriend, who's in a band called Le Tigre. A couple of months later, jenrock found an e-mail in her in-box from pioneering Riotgrrrl Kathleen Hanna.
Hanna's band was planning a summer tour and wanted jenrock's crew to open for Le Tigre on all their Canadian dates.
"Someone asked me what a highlight of all of this b-girling has been, and this is definitely it!" effuses jenrock, pumped after shebang!'s semi-final success at Sunday's Back 2 Da UnderGround battle.
The crew is rounded out by members Ms. Mighty, maehem and Blazin, all of whom met at Toronto's Randolph Academy while taking breakdance classes. The original three-member crew formed in October 1999. Blazin joined the others the following August.
The Le Tigre gig is just one example of their savvy marketing skills. They scored a prime sponsorship deal with streetwear company Modrobes and they run weekly b-girl classes at the Bloor JCC. They're also organizing the Break And Enter Bonnie & Clyde (b-girl and b-boy pair) battle that happens at the end of September.
Their name was another of jenrock's cool ideas.
"I heard that saying "the whole shebang' and stored it away for months," she explains. "Then when I ended up starting this b-girl crew, I realized how perfect it was. I wanted the all-female aspect to come across in the name, and I wanted the bang! -- that sense of power and striking moves."
"It was pre-Ricky Martin's She Bangs," adds Ms. Mighty, rolling her eyes. "When that song came out, it was cool to the extent that people remembered the name, but bad 'cause, well... it's Ricky Martin. And gyrating mermaids!" she shudders.
At first it seems bizarre to see breakers on the same bill as Le Tigre, a lo-fi electronica/punk/multimedia/feminist/activist project, but as jenrock explains, "Kathleen Hanna is all about working with other women artists -- that was such a huge part of Riotgrrrl. Part of the philosophy behind Le Tigre is not only to combine different kinds of art, but to combine art and feminism, art and activism.
"I don't b-girl specifically to be an activist. But I know it's part of our responsibility to create a b-girl community if there isn't one."
"It's like a b-girl support group!" Blazin chimes in. "I don't think we're really consciously pro-girl, but after being exposed to other b-girls who basically objectify their bodies when they dance, we realized how important our values are to us. We want to be respected as dancers, period. Not as "girl' dancers, and not as b-girl babes."