CALL OUT’S and why we need them

Here I am at it again, writing about something scene related, something some of you all probably don’t want to hear, and that is okay. Everything isn’t for everyone and the same goes for Hiphop. Hiphop sn’t for everyone.

A few weeks ago a facebook post was made by Ice-O (a bronx born popper currently residing in Stockholm and an active member of the local dance scene) questioning whether ”call out’s” still matter anymore.

To recite: – ”Do call out battles even work anymore? Do they bring change? I understand when it comes to beefs that are personal, however many people in the dance scene don’t care about ”craft”, ”culture” or ”respect”. So what does a ”call out” do?

I read this post yesterday and it reminded me of the ”call out”-situation here in Sweden and how I should make a post about that too someday.

Then, the following morning comes along and I wake up to one of my friends messaging me about last night’s concert. Apparently, my friend had tried to call out somebody from the local scene, just to get ignored or ”go unseen”.

So, here I am, writing this post, because it’s about time.

First, we start by explaining what a ”call out” is, to those unfamiliar with the term (or familiar but with a lack of understandning),

What is a call out in literal terms?

I’ll admit to urban dictionary not being the most reliable source of information, but the world is evolving and to be ”cooking something up” doesn’t even refer to food anymore. Just like ”lit” doesn’t refer to any form of actual light.

So, a call out is to challenge someone or somethings behaviour or their claims, a groups ideal, an instance etc etc. The base is accountability. How legitimate is what’s being said? How true is this person to their claim?

In this post we’re adressing call out’s as a concept in the dance community. Thus there’s culturally specific traits/rules that have been applied to the basic concept of a call out. Usually, and maybe the most famous culturally specific trait, is for a call out to manifest as a dance battle (not to be mistaken for the event version of a dance battle which is closer related to a competition).

To a spectator looking in, the battle might give the impression of being a simple measure of cheer danceskill, and sometimes it is just that. Other times there’s alot more at stake. Winning a competition is nice, but earning the respect of your peers or discrediting some phony is great.

There are several things you can call someone out on, sky is the limit, but to bring forth some examples of common reasons for a call out:

Personal disputes: This is when you call somebody out that you don’t like for whatever reason (or vice versa) aswell as somebody who might’ve publicly insulted/questioned/discredited you.

Legitimacy: Claims such as – I am the best dancer here! I know this style so well that I can teach it! I am an OG! Can be subjected to call out’s regarding legitimacy. If people consider your claims to be false, they’ll call you out.

Growth: Calling someone out doesn’t need to be an insult. It’s also a challenge, meaning you can learn from it and grow. For example, calling your teacher out can be a great opportunity to remind yourself why they’re qualified to teach in the first place, or if it might be time to branch out and learn from new people. Calling your best friend out and wiping the floor with them can motivate them to practice more and come back and call you out in the future.

Here’s what Buddha Stretch (Hiphop OG and teacher) responded when I asked – What is a call out? :

The callout is the original way of confronting someone based on battling them. You feel that you’re better, or that they’re just wack? You call them out! You want to test yourself against someone with a reputation? Call them out! The modern day call out has been used to address the difference in opinion between dancers at organized battles, most of the times with biased judges/judging, the intent remains the same, to show and prove!

So, now that we know what a call out is and what they’re used for, why do we need them?

Here’s what Bboy Afternoon (active member in the international streetdance scene, teacher, organiser and literarian) answered when I asked him,

-Why do we need call out’s? What’s the purpose?

  • Settling disagreements
  • Making the general dance level in an area level up
  • Allow the community to regulate itself in skills and beliefs
  • Allowing dancers to level up
  • Create a sense of respect among said dancers
  • Squashing differences
  • Polarizing the scene and It’s members

So in conclusion;

A scene without call out’s would have to regulate in some other way, the same goes for the leveling up (development) and creating a space of respect. Every functioning system needs some form of regulation for the system to remain intact. Without a healthy element of call out’s in our scene we have no way of determining level, there’s no outlet for settling disagreements and the members of the scene don’t have a voice. There’s no tool for setting the standards of respect. Without means of regulation there’s no way of determining who’s in the scene and who isn’t either.

If we ascribe to a culture who’s origins are not our own, we are guests in said culture, which means for us to be allowed to respectfully partake we must respect the system and rules already set in place. Most cultures are built around communities and for you to be considered a part of said community, the members must accept or co-sign you. You can’t just call yourself something without having the means to back it up, because by doing so you’re already distancing yourself from said community, their ideals and rules. Thus, resulting in you not being a part of said culture and community.

We can’t just pick and choose which part of a culture we choose to respect. Even if we don’t personally agree with everything, we must respect it. To ignore somebody callling you out without a valid reason is to disregard a vital aspect of the culture you claim to be a part of.



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