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Friday, December 19, 2003 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Head spin to head spin combat

Seattle Times staff reporter

Event preview


Circle of Fire vs. Massive Monkees, break-dance battle featuring the two Seattle crews and DJs Scene and DV One, 9 p.m. tomorrow, Showbox, 1426 First Ave., Seattle; $10, $2 off admission with two nonperishable food items for Northwest Harvest or a new/unused toy for Toys for Tots (206-628-3151 or www.showboxonline.com).

"Battle" — that's the hype word in the hip-hop world, which has its dance, DJ and MC battles. Sometimes, these get pretty nasty, especially on the MC end of things, with rappers competing to out-disrespect each other.

So it's encouraging to know that the Circle of Fire vs. Massive Monkees b-boy "battle" at the Showbox this weekend, an event that sets Seattle's highest-profile break crews against each other in a boxing ring, is steeped in mutual respect and admiration.

While both groups have competed around the country — and the world, for that matter — this is the first time the 206's top b-boy units will go head to head. (Or, perhaps better put, head spin to head spin.)

"We've all known each other for a long time," says Circle of Fire's Bob Foxhoven, "but we've never gone crew-to-crew. It's definitely a friendly battle."

"We've danced in the same tournaments but haven't really been sized up against each other," says J.D. "Twixx" Rainey, a Massive Monkees member. "We don't have a rivalry, we're friends — we don't want to battle each other for bragging rights. ...

"In the crowd, in the battle, it's a different story," he allows. "Even though you're trying to outdo each other, it's all cool, there's a mutual respect. There's no animosity, there's no hate. It's just testing each other's skills."

Part of the reason the competition can stay friendly is that the two crews are so different.

The eight-member Circle of Fire has been around for six years, about two years longer than Massive Monkees, which has 20 regular members. The biggest difference between the two isn't in size but in styles.

The way Foxhoven sizes up Massive Monkees, "they're more along the guidelines of what a b-boy is. We're kind of on the opposite end of that — our style incorporates a lot of different things in our movements. ... When you hit the floor, there's certain foundation basics you're supposed to do — we don't do that. Our (style) is more about the freedom of dancing, doing movements out of that."

Foxhoven, who is 25 and from the Bay Area, incorporates Brazilian martial-arts moves in his dancing. "We classify ourselves as freestyle dancers; it's a combination of a lot of different styles. A lot of it is up, dancing on the feet, rather than on the ground."

Massive Monkee Rainey agrees with that assessment. "(Circle of Fire's) dance style incorporates a lot of other dance styles — jazz, tap, anything they can get a hold of. They don't limit themselves to calling themselves b-boys or breakers. We're considered b-boys because we stick to those guidelines, but we use our imaginations to raise those guidelines up.

"They think outside the box. We're in the box — but we fill up the box."

Circle of Fire and Massive Monkees mop the floor at the Showbox on Saturday (9 p.m., $10 — $2 off admission with two nonperishable food items for Northwest Harvest or a new/unused toy for Toys for Tots). DJs Scene and DV One, who spin the "Yo Son!" Sunday nights at Chop Suey, will rev up the beats on a show with the potential to be one of the top local hip-hop shows of the year.

Tom Scanlon: tscanlon@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2003 The Seattle Times Company

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