For the past seventeen years, Dwinelle Hall has been utilized as a historic practice space in the legacy of the international break-dancing movement. As of last month, however, that hallway, so fundamental to the progression of hip hop culture and b-boying art, was stripped away as a viable practice space for the migrating dancers who would travel from all across the Bay Area, the state of California, and even the world just to dance in that particular environment. With your support, we are asking the Chancellor of UC Berkeley, current Chancellor Birgeneau, to use the power he wields in his position to restore the hallway back to the Dwinelle Hall Breakers so that the community has a space to continue its craft and continue building with one another.
Dear Chancellor Birgeneau,
For the past seventeen years, Dwinelle Hall has been utilized as a historic practice space in the legacy of the international break-dancing movement. Every Tuesday and Thursday, dancers of varying hip-hop styles from across the Bay Area, California, and even the globe journeyed to Dwinelle Hall to share a common practice space and exchanged ideas, developed character, and progressed in their respective artistic crafts.
As of last month, however, following the week of October 22nd, 2012, the Dwinelle Hall Breakers were removed from their traditional practice space and threatened to be forcibly ousted by the police should any dancers be seen in the building at the regular practice time from 9-11pm. Complaints came primarily from janitorial staff who lamented about the scuffing of the floors due to particular movements of the dance; the continuous act of “cleaning up” after the dancers stood in opposition against the recent “building beautification” mandate enforced by the Building Manager Mr. Ruben Mejia and his supervisor Bryan Joseph. Other complaints such as sound amplification disturbance and walkway blockage by the dancers were brought to the attention of the LEAD center and then to the student representatives of the Dwinelle Hall Breakers.
In order to mitigate the situation, the Dwinelle Hall Breakers worked with Christina Hernandez from the LEAD Center and Ruben Mejia, the Building Manager, to develop a series of acceptable measures in order to maintain their practice space. These included: ADA accessibility lanes, Liability Insurance, Fire Marshall approval, and a linoleum cover to place over the floors of the hallway to decrease the number of scuff marks. While these criteria were met continuously, on the one occasion the main student representatives were not present at practice, two groups issued complaints against the Dwinelle Hall Breakers for blocking the walkway and disturbing prior events with amplified sound.
As a result, our community, our dancers, our people were stripped of the communal spot so fundamental to the livelihood of hip hop culture and to the various individuals who thrived in that hallway. In order to respond to such an action, the Dwinelle Hall Breakers approached the Academic Senate of the University of California (ASUC) and passed SB 167 unanimously. With the recognition and support of 35,000 students, Senators from all parties agreed that the legacy of the Dwinelle Hall Breakers was ingrained in the history of UC Berkeley as many prospective students and external community members associated the university with its well-known break-dancing culture.
The space is more than just a simple walkway connecting classrooms together. Dwinelle Hall serves as a public space that brings together individuals from all walks of life and affects a community beyond the campus borders. Since its origin, the hallway has effectively channeled traditional hip hop culture to draw bridges between generations and across any social lines imaginable. The community that gathers in that hallway has continually and naturally fostered an inclusive, multicultural environment suitable for all ages and styles; with the power of a single stereo, it has forged something beautiful, powerful, and healing.
Therefore, that is why we are asking you, Chancellor Birgeneau, to support us in acquiring our home back. Attached to this letter is a copy of our Constitution and the signatories of both students and outside community members, including break-dancers world-wide, who have all joined in solidarity to support the movement to receive our practice space back. Under your direct mandate allocating that particular space to the Dwinelle Hall Breakers every Tuesday and Thursday from 9-11pm, Dwinelle Hall could once again flourish as the hub of international artistic collaboration, social collectivity, cross-cultural community building, and hip hop dancing.
Keep up the great work. Look what you've accomplished!
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