Hands down, the work of Athen’s Tolis Aristidou and his team are truly remarkable on a European-wide level, not just locally here in Greece. As the head promoter of Battle Of The Best, Battle Of The Year, Bounce, Hip Hop International, and a handful of other breakdance and streetdance events in Greece, Tolis really serves as just another example of what someone can achieve with hard work and dedication no matter where you live and operate from.
Battle Of The Best Athens celebrated its 10 year anniversary in a late November festival at the big auditorium, Technopolis Athens, which translates to “city of arts” - a really beautiful cultural venue and industrial museum housed in the city’s former gasworks. Right before he caught the plane for the Red Bull BC One world finals in Paris, Tolis had a small window of time to answer some of our questions. What followed was an understanding of the intense devotion it takes to drive an underground movement in a place that doesn’t provide a gas pedal for countercultures. All while knowing how to hold back enough to be sure it stays where it belongs.
MANOS NOMIKOS: What are your experiences for this year’s Battle Of The Best Athens?
TOLIS ARISTIDOU: This year’s festival ended with all the best memories so far. The level of quality was really high, with B-boys and B-girls coming from all over Greece. As far as the battles go, Dead Prezz continue their unbeaten cruise as a crew, with some other opponents like Black Out, Definition 360, and Waveomatics making the run of battles really exciting and near spectacular. At the 1 VS 1 B-Boy Battle field, 19 year old B-boy, Onel, confirmed once again that 2014 will be his year, never forgetting B-boy Zerow’s presence. Zerow has conquered the title for the most of the time in the last 10 years and came close at the final this year again. For the younger folks, 1 VS 1 Kids B-Boy Battle was open for kids younger than 15 years old. Out to our big surprise, we had more than 35 participants and this shows to us that a new generation of B-boys is born. Never forget the All Style Battle too, with a great atmosphere and attendance of more than 34 couples (2 VS 2).
10 years of Battle Of The Best Athens! Quite a trip, right?
We are really happy that the Battle Of The Best Athens festival has really helped on the growth and progress of the Greek breaking scene. A new generation of very talented dancers have found their path, while the older ones keep on practicing, participating, and starring in events and battles. If you also add elements like the famous international judges coming every year and the big money prizes, you can get a good idea of the festival. You can simply see before your eyes the modern history of the Greek breaking scene, with the festival being a big meeting point for all the national dancers. [That’s] something that really pleases us.
What do we also have to expect of December’s Battle Of The Best in Thessaloniki, the city you come from and live?
The festival of December 13th will be held at the Thessaloniki Concert Hall and it will be a real celebration for the dance culture. For the occasion of our 10 years anniversary we will have two breakdance contests, with the winners earning their special place to the european finals. Many international top names will once again visit us as official guests, with many side events, seminars and parties all through the day.
A simple and probably na"ive question - Can the European breakdance and streetdance scenes beat the US ones? Are there differences in style, even between the European scenes?
I personally think the French scene is the most talented and organized all through these years. Maybe in some periods of time, it was even better than the US breaking scene. The Dutch and Germans are [coming up] strong the last years too. On a whole new different level are the B-boys from Japan and Korea - totally amazing. All the scenes have their own style, blending elements for their local tradition and culture. Big talents are the dancers from Brazil and Russia as well.
Official website: www.battleofthebest.gr