When I first moved to New York City, this mesmerized me, and I threw money at every performance I saw. People don’t start break dancing at stoplights in the suburbs. This was new and exciting for me. It didn’t take long for the romance to fade though, and before long I had grown extremely tired of the same old breaker crews to the point where I actually started to find them annoying.
One day though, while traveling on the A express, a group of three breakers caught my attention. When their music started playing, it wasn’t the normal, boring, unintelligible hip hop. This music was slow paced, it has soul. I watched as these dancers began moving together. Their moves were not very different from any other break crew. In fact, they were some of the least impressive dancers I had seen on the subway. What was different was that their popping and locking meant something. These guys weren’t showing off, they were telling a story. I couldn’t quite decipher the entire tale, but they certainly had my attention and my curiosity.
After they finished, I gave one of their members a few dollars and asked him what the dance was about. He told me that they were raising awareness for gang violence. I thought that was awesome and we continued talking until he and his crew switched cars at the next stop.
The lesson here is an important one. As an artist who wants to get noticed, we can either be better, or we can be different. I think the former is overrated and the latter is greatly under valued. Most crews just follow the trend and do what everybody else does because it works. The only problem with that is if that everyone is doing it, it ceases to be effective unless you are the best, and only one can be the best.
Luckily, there is another choice that this particular crew was inherently aware of. These guys certainly were not the best dancers, but what they were different. By being different, they accomplished two things. First, they got the attention of me and many other people who would have otherwise ignored their act. Second, by choosing to be different, they essentially created their own style, their very own niche in which they were in fact the best. You can indeed have your cake and eat it to if you dare to be different.
People are attracted to the best, but they’re also attracted to what’s different. A lot of people will say that if you can’t be the best, don’t play the game. I say if you can’t be the best, change the game. Create your own sport until you are the best. Different is valuable because different is remarkable.
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