The Chinese Association Dance Crew (CADC) is one of the many groups who will be performing at this year’s Vibe. Originally a philanthropic event put on by members of Lambda Theta Delta (LTD), Vibe has become one of the premier hip-hop contests on the West Coast. Just last year, there were nearly 3,000 spectators that packed the Bren Events Center. This year, UC Irvine senior and coordinator of Vibe XIV, Jason Park, hopes that it’s even bigger.
“I no longer want to have a show when one team is headlining,” Park said. “I want one where everyone is enjoying everybody performing.”
Park pushed the stage back, allowing 1,000 more people in the Bren. With the excitement of dance taking over television and the Student Center terrace on most days, there’s a lot to look forward to. And for a UCI student, there are many talented home teams to cheer on.
Common Ground, Kaba Modern and CADC, along with seven other crews, will perform six-minute sets and will be judged based on routine, execution, crowd appeal and presentation. Fullerton’s Team Millennia, currently competing in the third season of MTV’s “Randy Jackson Presents America’s Best Dance Crew” hopes to defend its title from last year.
The crew took Vibe XII and XIII titles, and if it wins on Sunday, Team Millennia will be the first team in Vibe’s history to get a hat trick. CADC’s Mark Romain, a team coordinator, is not intimidated.
“I think we’re going for something a little bit different this year at Vibe,” Romain said. “Normally we do a big theatrical presentation. This year we’re going for something more feel-good and in-your-face, kind of aggressive.”
CADC is a collegiate team, which means, unlike some of their competitors, all of their members need to be undergraduates at UCI. The crew is fresh from an upsetting decision at Prelude, one of the year’s major dance contests that comes just before Vibe. The group went battle for battle with Choreo Cookies, but had its dreams of a third victory in three years taken away. CADC’s unique approach – pairing a narrative with its choreography – has set the group apart from many other crews.
“A lot of teams do just a dance set, and I think CADC is well-known for its themed sets,” said coordinator Janice Kang. “We use a lot of props, a concept or storyline. We want to give a show [rather] than just win a contest.”
The crew’s auditions have become a spectacle. This year, they moved from the Social Science parking structure to the ARC to accomdate 100 auditionees and 100 more spectators, friends and alumni (38 students made the team). CADC treats all contests with the same intensity and passion, but it’s difficult to count Vibe out as something special.
“Vibe is our home turf. It’s go big or go home,” Kang said.
The judges for Vibe include many prominent names within the hip-hop and dance communities that include Devon Marlink from SickStep, president of Hip-Hop Dance Association Anna Sarao and Elm Pizarro of boogiezone.
Kaba Modern Legacy (KML), which includes all members of the nationally recognized group of Kaba Modern from the first season of “America’s Best Dance Crew,” hopes to impress the judges with an electronic feel and show the hometown crowd something it’s never seen before.
“It’s going to be new and fresh,” said KML member and UCI alum Eric Calvario. “A lot of our choreographers are evolving their styles so it’s going to be really interesting.”
Miguel Zarate will be using his experience with Rihanna, Tony Tran will showcase the complexity of isolation choreography and Mike Song will “take a familiar song, and add a new popping twist.”
Tickets are on sale for UCI students at $23 and $25 for the general public at the Bren Events Center or LTD’s Ring Mall table near the Student Center. Just look for the Lambda Theta Delta letters, as its Web site says.
Park expects dance enthusiasts to come in numbers, but also wants new fans to leave Vibe with a different perspective and interest with this growing culture. He also shares the same excitement with the students who have already bought their tickets.
“I think they should definitely look out for … I don’t know. They’re all good. It’s hard to say,” Park said.
It is hard to pick a favorite for Vibe XIV. And it’s even harder to wait until Jan. 25.