Leuven is gearing up for the Lotto WDSF World Breaking Championship, which kicks off on Friday. For the official competition, head to the Ladeuzeplein, but the rest of the city will also be immersed in the breaking and hip-hop vibe with a range of lots of side events in the city to concerts and DJs at Het Depot. Four Belgians are competing for the World title that also entitles them to an Olympic ticket.
The World Championship brings the absolute world top in breaking to Leuven: 115 B-boys and 92 B-girls from 62 countries will battle it out for the World title on Saturday and Sunday. The dance arena on Ladeuzeplein, with stands holding 2,500 spectators, is the place to be. There are already free practice sessions on Friday, and on Saturday the action starts for real from 12:30pm. After the pre-selections and top 64 competition for the boys, the top 32 for both B-boys and B-girls will take place in the evening. Only the top 16 in both categories will still be in action on Sunday and the World Champions in the Men’s and Women’s events will be revealed around 9pm.
“Next summer our best Flemish breakers will be at the Olympics in Paris, but this month the world is already coming to Flanders for the World Breaking Championship,” says Flemish Minister of Sport Ben Weyts. “In recent years, we have been bringing more and more top sporting events with international appeal to Flanders. This helps us strengthen our image abroad, while we stimulate more people to play sports at home. Because watching sports makes you exercise. With urban sports like breaking, we definitely want to get young people moving”.
“The World Breaking Championship belongs in Leuven,” says Mohamed Ridouani, Mayor of Leuven. “We have a rich breaking history, and our urban scene is buzzing with young talent. Our Leuven dance societies also remain popular and are constantly growing. Moreover, breaking is about more than sports. It is a community with a strong inclusive streak where respect and creativity are paramount. We are proud that as a city we can help promote these values and showcase them at a world championship.”
Belgian hopes rest on the shoulders of Madmax (Maxime Blieck) and Camine (Vanhoof) among the Women and Cis (Backeljau) and Mighty Jim (Dimitrios Grigoriou) among the Men. All four want to shine in front of their home crowd. The stakes are therefore very high: to be able to call themselves World Champions for a year and also earn a ticket to the Paris Olympics. After all, Breaking will make its debut as an Olympic sport in Paris next year. A ticket to an Olympic qualifying tournament awaits the three other semi-finalists.
As early as Thursday, there is plenty to do, including the Kinepolis Urban Movie Night (in collaboration with Just Entertainment) showing the exclusive screening of Breaking Point. On Friday, there will be free training sessions for all dancers, and crew battles in the evening. On Saturday and Sunday, all World Championship battles will take place on Ladeuzeplein, interspersed with spectacular shows by ILL ABILITIES, as well as MC battles and scratching battles. The stands around the arena will be freely accessible to all. Those who want to be sure of a seat for the evening sessions on Saturday and Sunday would do best to book a one. You pay 7.5 Euros but get it back on the spot in drink vouchers. Reservations can still be made via the website
At the other locations in the city (Grote Markt, Martelarenplein, Het Depot) there are almost non-stop crew and kids battles, workshops, DJ sets, performances and an afterparty on both Saturday and Sunday. Michel Francken, CEO events of organiser Golazo: “This is obviously a World Championship with top-level sport. But at the same time, it is an urban sports and culture festival. Hip-hop is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, which brings it full circle. We will immerse the whole city in everything related to breaking and hip-hop culture and offer workshops, demos, performances and afterparties at various locations.”
“With the World Breaking Championship, we promote a social, cultural and active lifestyle and welcome the whole world to Leuven with open arms!” adds Jonny Lekens, President BDSF and Danssport Vlaanderen. “The combination of a top sports event and a hip-hop festival will encourage a large audience to get to know breaking and hip-hop culture.”
“Those who think of Flanders and sport think of cycling and football. But Flanders has much more to offer,” said Flemish Tourism Minister Zuhal Demir. “For instance, urban sports such as ‘breaking’ are also very popular. By bringing the World Breaking Championship here for its 50th anniversary, we are putting Flanders even more firmly on the map, also among an international young audience. Those sporty young people will not only get the chance to shine here, but also to discover and experience Flanders and all its assets.”