Review: Just Jam

The final of Just Jam International 2017 marked the end of a weekend of hip-hop culture, celebrating its 10th year, and featured a diverse line-up of acts and competing crews who came top out of around 100 others to make it to the final at Dance City. Many contestants travelled from other countries, making this a truly international event and unmissable for hip-hop fans in Newcastle. Before the battle started the venue was bubbling with audience members of a wide range of ages, and bboys and bgirls getting ready to compete. Some were using the open floor ahead of the battle and already there was so much talent in the room that it was hard to know who to watch.

Ken Masters of Bad Taste Cru kicked off the night with a rap which introduced Just Jam and got everyone ready to see the top 16 crews. After the DJs and judges were introduced and the rules explained to the competitors, the battle commenced, exhibiting incredible talent over four rounds, between which were showcases from spectacular guest acts. The audience really responded to the dancing, almost as if the performers were fireworks—with oohs and aahs, whoops, shouts, and smiles. What was happening on the floor was explosive! The crews faced each other with a friendly competitiveness and a good deal of bravado, and there was a great range of individual styles. It was very impressive when moves combined both members of a crew. Some stand-out showcase acts included FlavaBay, Artis, Scarecrows, and Breaksquad.

The energy in the room was generally good, although, as it was a long event, the audience seemed to flag towards the end of the second round, at which point drawing attention back to the floor with a great move was a mark of mastery. In the interval, the floor was opened again to whoever wanted to get on it, including some very young audience members who were encouraged by more experienced bboys and bgirls! It took some effort to clear the floor for the battle to recommence, but once everyone was back in their seats the energy had returned to the room and everyone was ready to see how the battle would play out. An hour later and the excellent Redo and Nazgul had won the title, in a final round against Admir and Simon who also really delivered.

Before the winners were announced, Bad Taste Cru brought the event to a close with speeches and a last rap from Masters, ‘One’, where everyone “got their ones up” and joined in dancing, whether on the floor or in their seats. Throughout the night it was clear that Just Jam is a warm community in which bboys and bgirls find pride in themselves and each other. The final was a child-friendly event with a great vibe which combined a relaxed atmosphere for audience members who wanted to talk or use their phones, with superb music (provided by DJs Timber and Khan Fu) and high-energy competition.