FamFest celebrates hip-hop culture in Wynwood

Keebz of Flipside Kings, which celebrates their 22nd anniversary at FamFest this weekend
Keebz of Flipside Kings, which celebrates their 22nd anniversary at FamFest this weekend

Between August heat and Zika fears, this weekend may not seem like the ideal time for an event in Wynwood. But Miami performer and pivotal hip-hop dancer Rudi Goblen isn’t going to let summer doldrums stop FamFest, a two-day celebration of hip-hop culture, dancefloor talent, and the 22nd birthday of Flipside Kings, the top Miami break-dance crew that Goblen helped start as a teenager.

“Nothing really happens in August like what we’re doing, and for people who don’t live in Miami it’s a beautiful time to get away,” says Goblen. “We’ll be just fine.”

The event is part of an international circuit of break dance, or B Boy, competitions, which feature often staggering athletic feats and large cash prizes. But FamFest, which takes place at the Miami Light Project’s space in Wynwood, is a more expansive and community-oriented cultural event with an array of performances and activities, harking back to the inclusive spirit of early hip-hop culture. There will be music from the groups ¡Mayday! and the Spam Allstars, dance workshops, graffiti and DJ demonstrations, art displays, and an outdoor market with vendors and food.

Goblen and his fellow organizers expect dancers from Colombia, Venezuela, Canada, France, Ukraine, Australia, and around South Florida, who’ll compete for prizes ranging from $250 to $3,000. Judges will roam a Friday night party to pick out just 16 contestants for Saturday night’s final competition, with the aim of letting everyone get close to the spontaneous eruptions of dance talent that mark a free-form dance event.

“When you go to a B Boy competition you’re gonna stand around and wait for the competition to happen,” says Goblen, 35. “We’re doing things differently. We want to celebrate and have fun. You have to be picked by judges walking around seeing people dance, and saying you are so good we want to see you battle. On Saturday we announce the competitors, and it’s on the spot — you’ve been picked and you do it.”

Although Goblen and the Flipside Kings were successes on the international hip-hop dance circuit in the ’90s, he and other members have branched out to other art forms. The group currently has 12 members, ranging in age from mid-20s to mid-30s. Goblen has become one of Miami’s leading dance theater and performance artists, creating and touring solo works like “PET” (which was revived last April by Miami Light Project, which commissioned it in 2013), and performing with Rosie Herrera Dance Theatre (most recently at New York’s Joyce Theater) and Teo Castellanos’ D-Projects.

Other members of the Flipside Kings have gone into art, music, film and teaching. NonMs (pronounced “non-y-mous”) is a percussionist in ¡Mayday! Heps Fury, who attended Miami’s Design and Architecture High School, became a teacher and artist; he also invented a performance character named Salvador Live, combining acrobatic dancing with live painting, which he’ll present at FamFest.

“He does a live speed painting show, dancing, flipping, and painting with aerosol cans,” says Goblen. “It’s very Jackson Pollock, but spinning on his head.”

The Flipside Kings have straddled the underground urban and nonprofit arts worlds, performing at community events at the Adrienne Arsht Center and elsewhere, and serving as artists-in-residence at HistoryMiami. Famfest is sanctioned by the Urban Dance and Education Foundation (UDEF), a nonprofit group started in 2013 to promote hip-hop dance, culture and work opportunities via a circuit of competitions called the Pro Breaking Tour, as well as sponsoring workshops and community events. Winners of the FamFest dance competition will go on to the Silverback Open, part of the top series in the Pro Breaking circuit.

Goblen says they hope to continue and expand FamFest in the future.

“We’re shooting to make it an annual event,” he says. “To preserve and enrich the hip-hop culture and arts scene in Miami, and feed it because there is so much talent here.”

If you go

What: FamFest (Flipside Kings Art and Music Festival)

When: 6 to 11 p.m. Friday, 2 to 11 p.m. Saturday

Where: The Light Box at Goldman Warehouse, 404 NW 26th St., Miami

Info: $25 two-day passes available online until 5 p.m. Friday; or $20 each day at the door; at famfestmiami.com