Give us your name, basic introduction, where you’re from, years of dancing and what styles.
Peace, greetings, and salutations. My name is Chrybaby Cozie, CEO of the Bwreckfast Club, EAT, LiteFeet Nation, Level Up. I am from Harlem NYC. And I’m 32. Professionally, since the age of 18, 19
How long have you been dancing for?
I’ve been dancing since the age of 5. Like I said, I’m 32 now. And styles of dance that I’ve really been interested in since day 1 is, obviously, Hip-Hop, B-Boying, Flexing, and definitely things like Locking, Popping, and obviously Lite Feet.
For you, what is Hip-Hop? How do you define it?
What Hip-Hop to me is, it’s, it’s several things. An outlet is one. Just being able to express myself with a language that wasn't taught to me. It’s something that I absorbed organically by hearing the music. It’s definitely an anti-violence, it’s something that has kept me out of trouble for a very long time. Not to say that I was a problematic kid, but it gave me a type of focus and discipline to stick with something, to be consistent with something that's not school and/or something that's being taught to you in a classroom. It really, you know, depicts on your time and what your focus is on. And so for me to stick with something like that, it’s definitely a discipline as well. It's an engine, something that revs me up in a way that amplifies my movement in words in a way that I don’t think I could with anyone else. It definitely provides a lot of platforms for me in just being able to express myself on all levels.
When were you first exposed to Hip-Hop?
The first time I was exposed to Hip-Hop, I think the earliest times were type of catalyst was things like Beat Street, Breakin, Electric Boogaloo 1 and 2. Those movies are quintessential to my being - the reasons why I love this. The music from the movies, the dancing in the moves, the style in the movies, they’re all the archetype of my understanding. You could say those are the beginning stages.
When was the first time you were exposed to Lite-Feet?
The first time I was exposed to Lite-Feet was my last year in highschool, 2004. It was a gym class and I saw two kids Corey and Didi doing the tone-wop and you know it just struck me because prior to that everything was either my love for bboying, trying to wave tut isolate glide, with my own Hip-Hop uptown Harlem boogie. And then to see this particular dance that came out right after the Harlem shake, it just struck me in a way where I was like “This is it. This is the new. I don't know what it is, but I got learn it and I got to get on it quick.” God bless the dead: to Didi and shout out to Corey if he’s watching.
What made you start dancing? When was that moment?
What made me really wanna start dancing was...at the age of 5 you don’t know what you’re going to excel at. My eldest brother showed me the running man and that was like...it was all downhill from there. Once you learn one step it’s like you're in. And at the time, going to birthday parties, doing dance contests, your boy was winning back to back to back with the running man - same move. So I’m like I need to do something else. So I would find movies like Beat Street, Breakin, Wild Style, and I began to mimic the things I see in the movies and I’m just trying to use those as much as possible. And I believe with time, I began just seeing more and more content from home and I began to try to mimic it. Being that there weren’t any teachers necessarily that I could find in my neighborhood, it was really all what I saw and what I found interesting to try.
In terms of Lite-Feet and Hip-Hop, could you explain the differentiation between lite-feet and hip-hop and how they coincide?
For me, Life-Feet is Hip-Hop. If it were not for Hip-Hop, there would not be Lite-Feet. The reason being is because Hip-Hop is on the “1, 2, 3.” Lite-Feet goes double-time “and 1 and 2 and 3 and 4.” So it’s a symbiosis that can’t be separated. Yes you can do Hip-Hop, yes you can do Lite-feet. But without Hip-Hop, you cannot do Lite-Feet. You have to have a sense of that bounce, the rhythm, and the understanding to even go there. Which is why I try to tell students, opposed to approaching these things like steps, try to get the feel and groove of them, and then amplify the functionality. If you’re not comfortable with following music, when somebody wants to turn the levels up and make you go there, because you’re not comfortable with just vibing out to this particular timing, it’s like running on a treadmill at the highest speed. It’s like going from the Waltz to doing Chicago footwork. It’s like completely off you know?
So, today we have Hip-Hop all over the internet, dance studios, and schools worldwide. How was Hip-Hop before all these changes? What about Jams?
How Lite-Feet was for me was a party. It was a social dance that brought people together. It wasn’t about a battle, or a battle that you knew about specifically. Somebody's round. Those things were not the narrative. The narrative was “Where’s the party at tonight? Are we going to get crazy? Are we going to find girls? Are we going to dance with girls? Are we going to have a good time? Is it in a safe-neighborhood.” The Lite-feet that we see now is very much on our phones. If not on our phones, there are specific events that have Lite-Feet rounds or it’s a Lite-Feet battle in particular. And for me, the narrative right now is battling, which is a good thing because it helps amplify the culture and what Lite-feet looks like. But it's drastically missing the social aspect of it, of coming together and just wanting to be around each other, hear some good music, dance with each other, maybe meet someone new, try something different, and you know just celebrate. And/or rejoice.
What do you look for as a Judge for competitions?
Lite-feet is the continuation of the Hip-Hop spectrum from the uptown Harlem Bronx perspective.
What do you look for as a Judge in competitions?
What I look for as a judge is someone who wants to see raw energy. Definitely raw energy and being able to amplify those battle tactics, but also have fun and vibe with the crowd. Like do what you come to do, obviously beat your opponent but also connect with the people to create a greater moment because nobody wins if no one’s feeling it. You can approach your battle in a particular way, but the people might not have felt what you’re doing, but the judges will. So I think that trying to connect with the audience around you definitely plays a huge role. For myself, when I’m judging I’m looking for rawness, character, energy, charisma, not looking at the floor, for you to have fun, connection to the music, and connection with the people.
How do we prevent social media making people less social?
Look at the word, it’s crazy. Like if there was one day where like Instagram shut down, and the only way you could get 100 followers was to go outside and talk to people. Yo Instagram is shut down for a week but when you sign back on, after you’ve spoke to 100 people you get get 100 followers something like that, something weird. Right now, I think that if wi-fi just blew up, there’s no more wifi anywhere, you’re going to have to go to get the broadband or the telephone line to get on the internet and no ones gonna want to do Instagram from a PC. If there was some type of electromagnetic pulse, and everything electronic just stopped working. Other than that, I really don’t know man. I was telling my girlfriend today, that I come from a time that predates phones. Not the phones that we have, not smartphones, but I told her my first computer was something called a Brother’s computer - like mad old bro. You know what I mean? So we’re in the time where kids that were 10 in 2006 are already fast forward with technology. And it’s just nothing about that time does that breed the party. The parties that I originally began going to as a kid, and teen, and our early 20’s - they're just gone. There’s no more of that type of vibe. It’s either in an old dive of a club and it’s not really safe or it’s just not just there.
Yeah I can’t lie, when I first began seeing him at EXPG, he’s quite an eccentric person. You don’t really know what to expect or take of him, but he’s raw. Dude is raw. People, I believe, have come and lived with him to try to get the full essence. Some people are like “You know what, this is the trenches. This is what it takes to learn it and be in that environment. I’m cool with that.” Fam like. I just had somebody that I have known for about 5 years and I’ve come to stay with them in the UK for three separate occasions. And they just came to stay with me for 10 days. It’s an honor to me to open up my home to somebody who wants to learn from me.
How long have you been battling for?
Battling? I’ve been battling since at least the age of 10. I’ve been Harlem shake battling since the age of 12 to 13 and then when I found Lite-Feet it was like at least 18 or 19.
What would you say is the biggest difference from battles when you were younger to now?
The dancer has changed. The dancer has changed in a manner where they are accessing their vocabulary in a train like manner, today. Back in the day, you didn’t know what to expect. You couldn’t select your song. Lite-feet battles are where Lite-Feeters can select their music. Essentially. Every battle culture is like “Really you can do that?” Lite-feet has just have had that for a very long time. We didn’t necessarily start it. A gentleman who created the battle culture specifically for Lite-Feet or really began it is someone named D. Cole. And he used to have battles in midtown like Ripley’s, Champion, all those other places. Some people might come with their battle music or they would just battle to whatever's on. But I wanna say 8 times out of 10, Lite-Feeters are like “Naw, give me this song.” Yeah, it’s crazy. So definitely accessing knowledge from a trained lab perspective, opposed to back then, you didn’t know what to really expect. And it was in the middle of a party, right in the middle of a party too. So you don’t know really what’s gonna happen. Your opponent might bust a backflip on you, could throw you on the ground, and act like he’s peeing on you in front of everybody. And you gotta like just, eat that, you know? Right in the middle of a party. Not like a battle round. Typically two people don't really face each other in battles with Lite-Feet. They’re facing a camera and their opponent is watching them until it’s their turn. And then they’re facing the camera. If an event is being filmed, they’re just facing the camera and battling facing the camera. And the community surrounds around them and keeps the element up.
Does that make it easier to judge?
It is more like a presentation it’s more like a showmanship. Like somebody’s looking to get the crowd - you have the crowd on both sides. It’s not like there’s just somebody behind you, somebody behind you, judges here, and then the audience here. Naw ,the audience is right behind you and they’re cheering you on right in the aspect. I think it just gives it more of an in-depth vibe when you’re dancing and someone’s right here and and they’re like cheering you on. It definitely gives a specific aesthetic as well.If the crowd is not feeling you, bro, your moves is not gonna stick. You’re not even gonna think in your head that your moves is fire. Like, you’re gonna look crazy.
Do you think battles will evolve? For example like Lite-Feet battles in the UK?
For now, it might be two different lanes, but it is something that I think that the states, specifically New York, can’t absorb. The way hip-hop is trained - like up until two days ago I thought that labbing was just going rounds. But someone explained to me the other day that labbing is something where you work on a particular thing, and you train that aspect, or you train several aspects. For a long time, I thought that labbing was just ciphering. But I now understand that they are two different things. In the UK, they cyper and they lab, but there isn’t a strong party aspect. New York still has parties, just not the ones that I’m particularly talking about. You can go to a nightclub in New York every day of the week, weekends especially. But yeah, their parties out there are not necessarily...Like Hip-Hop is from New York, so can you imagine what a party is like in a place where Hip-Hop is not where it’s from? They have music called garage and grime and it’s a different type of vibe, a different type of groove, tempo as well. So yes, hip-hop is world-wide, but in places where it’s not from, specifically, their partying culture is different. The social aspect of it is different. Dancing with girls, whining, what we call dubbing, is not “of the culture” in a lot of other places. You’re not gonna go to the UK and hear “Doo Doo Brown, Doo Doo Brown!” You can go to New York and hear “Don’t stop, get it get it!” These are songs that breed that dancing together, or even two stepping. Grabbing a girls hand and just keeping it real chill to something like Donell Jones or...something really, coasty. Coasty is not really a word, but where you can just chill. Yes, I do see it going in a different way, but only up. It can only level up at this point. The only thing that’s lacking on both ends is more parties. I can’t say that the parties that are happening here in New York are so great, and the ones that are not happening, it just leaves them to lab, cypher, and train. So what we can use a little bit more of is less of these really wack parties in New York, less of the training and labbing, and coming together and creating some type of kick back.
Why is New York such a special place?
I think it’s just what New York breeds. School of the hard knocks. It’s very gritty, grimey. And think about the confidence that you need to be able to just execute any vibe that’s on your mind. You got to feel like you’re the ish. You know what I mean? And it’s where that flavor, where that dopeness comes from. When somebody says like “You’re deaf” I feel like that’s exactly what deaf means - to be gritty, to have griminess, to have flavor. And a lot of places just weren’t breeding that. To be where hip-hop is from, to live there, to have lived here my whole life. It has bred a specific type of aficionado out of me and that vibe is “Psssh can’t tell me nothing. 100%.”
When you tell people you're from New York
They treat you different. Start asking you about rappers you’ve never listened to before. Like, I don’t even listen to him.
What are your favorite aspects about the dance? (community, sessions, battles, partying)
My favorite part of the scene is how elite it is to have resources at your dissmayal. At your reach. Dancers for instance, you need a place to live. You can go on Facebook right now. If you have 50 dancers on your Facebook right now, that are traveling, and all of this. They could put you at least in the direction, point you in the right direction where you need to go. So that’s living, off rip, a job. Dancers that teach at dance studios, that get gigs. Like if you’re someone who’s training, off rip, you can go on social media and reach out to people and be like “Yo I’m looking for work. I do this, this that, and the third. Can you point me in the right direction?” - Sold, right there. “Looking to train with other people”, you know what I mean? Like your... whom you know, what your involved in, your database, your community. Like your resources are really at reach - “I wanna train with somebody today, who’s available?” - 1 like, 2 likes. “Yo I could meet you today. I could meet you right now.” So, I think it’s accessibility for the things that just help with everyday life. Where you live, how you work, whom you train with. There is a social aspect to it but it definitely requires you to reach out as well. So I definitely enjoy that. And just how special dance is overall. Like, it’s not. I used to work for UPS, I worked for Family Dollar, I was a Messenger, I never did like any food-server, nothing like that, but I’ve had some odds in end jobs in New York City and the people I’ve been able to meet because of dance. I can’t say I remember really anybody from those past experiences except for UPS because UPS was like, like hell bro. BUT, the people I’ve been able to meet because of dance, it would only happen through something like dance. I don’t even think Sports is like the same way. You know what I mean? Like it’s way too much competition. You cannot celebrate a basketball game. You know? Unless you’ve won. The team that lost, no one talks to them or hears about that really so...I love that. Camaraderie and being able to find people or anything that you need because your community has the resources you need.
Yo bro, what you need is right...Even, it’s something as simple as a charger. Dancers walk with mad chargers. It’s like whatever you need, I think the dance community can definitely be the resource you’re looking for. 100%.
So, you have 27 Years dancing, as a dancer with a wealth of knowledge / experiences, what will you and your peers do to keep this momentum going and help the youth seize these new opportunities you all worked hard for?
That’s a doozie. What we will continue to do, to keep the, the way that I intend to help my community, one of which is this summer, we’re having something called Raw Lite The Camp. And Raw Lite the camp is the first Lite-Feet camp in its entirety to have people from New York who have grown up and lived Lite-Feet culture to now be teaching Lite-Feet culture. That is going down this summer August 1st and 2nd. August 3rd will be the international competition which will be the third annual, so we’re already creating ways to keep the culture alive and things to be going on annually. Whatever season it is, things aren’t necessarily poppin, you know that some point in the year, definitely for the summer, Raw Lite the Camp is gonna happen. There's also the first international Lite-Feet competition called Lite-Fest which happens in London as well. This will be their third annual or just the third installment of it. Aside from that being able to teach classes weekly along with my peers who have classes weekly as well, there’ll be training sessions in between those classes. As of right now I think that we’re all pretty much holding up a pillar. And summer for Lite-Feet culture is just when things naturally go up. Opportunities come out of the woodwork. Events, just being able to socialize more because the weather is nice. It’s essentially trying to create more things for us to be together in that great weather.
This is that community vibe, this is what I’m saying. Being able to have something now, like SOULO, to be able to be your one-stop-shop to find any and all things going on in the city. And these people are typically connected to each other. It isn’t just like some random database. And you can find people like no. Everyone typically on this particular site is involved and connected in a way. These are the loops in the larger link or links in the larger loop that I’m looking to continuously create. I will definitely provide you with that information.
Social media back then and now - being connected
When you guys asked me to do this...One thing about social media and answering people back. There are so many different platforms to answer people back. A phone call, an email, a text message, inboxes, you know what I mean? It gets crazy after a while and I just don’t want it to be that the extension of whom I am is judged of me because of my phone. Like if you see me in person, this is whom I am. Because I was not on it like this, doesn’t mean that I’m a bad person. I was just focused on something else. Telling my girlfriend who’s ten years younger then me that, you know we come from a time where people spent a lot of their time not looking down, using their hands, really giving eye contact, or then if you wanted to speak to me, you had to find me. Not like, doesn’t matter what’s going on I’m going to text you right now and I need you to hit me back. There’s just some people that don’t do well in that and I’m trying. So this is what I mean when people really want me for something and I’ve agreed, it’s my honor to be a part of it. You tell Will whatever he’s got goin on, I’m rockin for him.
You know your Will's favorite teacher right?
Yo. What? That is just...what, yo...see it’s just stuff like that, that just...just really brings things close to home, close to heart because people just didn’t believe in the dance at some point. You know? They really just told me it wasn’t gonna go anywhere. So like I said, if there’s anyway I can help Will with whatever he’s got going on just tell him to say the word. Foreal foreal.
Who were some of your favorite people you met along your journey so far in dance?
Not gonna lie. That’s like the best question because talking about movies like Beat Street, Breakin, Electric Boogaloo 1 and 2, I have been able to meet the people from those movies. Being able to meet Shabadoo, have a conversation with him, share a taxi with him, eat KFC. He’s a crazy guy but he’s mad funny and it’s just like, life: full circle. You’re interested in something, it’s like playing basketball and you meet the guy who invented the basketball. You know what I mean? Shabadoo didn’t necessarily invent dance but he definitely is somebody that helped color the picture in my head about what dance is and what it could be. And for a long time I thought that him and Boogaloo Shrimp were the good guys and that Poppin Pete and Poppin Taco were the bad guys. So to meet them, to meet Poppin Pete, to meet Shabadoo, to meet the gentleman who played Lee from Beat Street, these are like quintessential moments in life full circle where what I was interested in has arrived right at my feet. To meet Mr. Wiggles. Like the first dancer I could remember. Like I don’t think I...I knew them as Turbo and Ozone but when I read the credits after Beat Street I’m like “Mr. Wiggles.” I’m like on the internet like “Mr. Wiggles.” Find mad footage of this guy, and I’m like “I wanna be like this, I wanna dance like this.” And that began my journey just focusing on one dancer other than people like Michael Jackson and stuff like that. Shabadoo, Lee from Beat Street, meeting Poppin Pete, meeting Mr. Wiggles, these are the people that have made the journey thus far, just an honorary one. Just completely blown away to see Shabadoo in Taiwan. Not even New York, obviously I wouldn’t meet him in New York, but to be in a completely different part of the country where he’s not from. I’m getting breakfast. Shabadoo’s eating cereal. And I’m like “Yo, that’s Shabadoo.” I’m at a table adjacent from him, like mad far and I’m just eating my food...and I see him. And we didn’t make eye contact but I ate my food and I got out of there mad quick. But when I was waiting for the elevator he showed up waiting for the elevator too. And we were on the elevator momentarily talking. And I’m like*whispers “That was Shabadoo yo.” You know what I’m saying? It’s just moments like that, that really bring it all home for me. And if there’s somebody someday that does that to me, I just wanna be as real to them as possible. Because in that moment I don’t think Shabadoo could really read my energy, but I can read somebody if they’re kinda startled or shocked. And I just want to appear the most chill to them because I’m not some...you know what I mean? Not to say that I’ve received that from anyone. But I have seen that or heard that about other people - none that I have mentioned as well to be clear.
How’d you get the name Chrybaby?
This is like the infamous question. Happy belated birthday to Ted Smoov who is the person who alleyooped the name. So I was dancing at a basketball tournament called Kingdome. Kingdome is a basketball court that is right across the street from where I live and it’s officially the west side of Harlem. I’m from the east side of Harlem. And 5th avenue is the borderline. I live on 5th avenue but on the east side so across the street is the west side. West side culture is just completely different and at our basketball tournaments there would be music playing. And I began dancing halftime at this basketball tournament called Kingdome. One day, this Sunday, AG the voice of Harlem, who is the creator of Lite-Feet, the energy and the vibe, he was on the microphone and on Sundays at the basketball tournaments he would refuse to have any hard rap being played because you’re in the middle of the projects. Don’t nobody wanna hear “Stop! Drop!” You wanna hear something chill, so they would play really smooth R&B or golden souled oldies. “Entourage” by Omarion was on and I hit the court and I came out with a particular vibe. And I was Tone-Wopping and as I was Tone-Wopping, I was doing like when someone’s boohooing type of thing. I did that, the crowd went crazy. Mind you, just to give you a little bit of color to the picture, I was also nearly 400 lbs and I’m dancing outside in front of everybody. It wasn’t staged. It wasn’t planned. It was right in the moment. And Ted Smoov in the crowd notioned to AG “Yo AG!” AG walks over to him, he’s like “Who’s that kid doing the Chrybaby?” AG goes, “Well that’s the Chrybaby.” Where I’m from, you can get a nickname for anything and if it ain’t a cool thing, that name sticks with you. So let’s say you were to go meet the homies one day and you stepped in some shit. You could be “Shit Boy” or “Shitty Shoe.” You know what I mean? Particularly that day stuck with me. People began calling me the name. And I’m like, “Yo, who is this Chrybaby?” They’re like, “Yo, ain’t you Chrybaby?” I’m like “I guess.” And it just stuck. The Cozie part wa something that always was with me since I was young. Girls used to be like you’re like a cozy teddy bear because I was bigger. I used to be “The Chrybaby.” I dropped the “The” and I added the “Cozie” at the end. Chrybaby Cozie is the stage name. Buddha Stretch, Mr. Wiggles, Poppin Pete. Just two syllables. Two things in a name to keep it going.
I was 19 going on 20. Nearly 400 lbs. At least 375 was the smallest I was at the time.Bro, Lite-Feet is cardio. Cardiovascular workout man coming to you soon.You know what too? It’s not something that I sought out to do like I’m gonna dance to workout. It just allowed me to move in a way that I never moved before. If I wasn’t dancing, I wasn’t doing any spastic moving. So it just allowed me to have a type of control that anything else in life wouldn’t have provided. And it just refined my style and once I began teaching, that really really allowed me to shed the pounds because you come to class and there are people there that don’t have rhythm. And starting from scratch to teach people how to dance. And then to teach them Lite-Feet which is a completely different journey and I’ve had that for a while. Some years at EXPG teaching, going on 5 years at EXPG. Time is crazy. Real talk. Real Real talk.
Soulo Shout Out
Once again this is your boy Chrybaby Cozie, CEO of the Bwreckfast Club, LiteFeet Nation, Level Up. Please do sure to follow Soulo dot com? Soulo New York dot com. Oh so I’ll say that over.Peace, greetings, and salutations. My name is Chrybaby Cozie, CEO of the Bwreckfast Club, EAT, and LiteFeet Nation, Level Up. Please be sure to follow Soulo NYC dot com for some of the greatest information you can find on the OGs, legends, and community in the city. For any and all things your one stop shop for dance. Na no problem at all. Thank you for having me. Na I’m blessed. Thank you for your patience, Foreal, I’m speaking from the heart.