Red Bull Dance Your Style returns to Memphis: What to know about the street dance contest

Crosstown Concourse will be buzzing Saturday with the sights, sounds and moves of the Red Bull Dance Your Style competition.

Following a successful 2021 stop in Memphis, the global dance-off contest will launch its 2023 season locally as 16 performers from the Mid-South and beyond battle their way through a single-elimination, bracket-style tournament, in hopes of advancing to the national finals.

Saturday’s kickoff qualifier for the Red Bull Dance Your Style season will celebrate the diverse dance styles and sounds rooted in South. The event will be hosted by Ladia Yates, Memphis jookin’ queen and L.Y.E Academy founder, along with New Orleans comedian DC Paul.

Like the packed and electrifying 2021 edition, which took place at Midtown’s Railgarten, the Crosstown event will also feature special guest appearances, with star Memphis rappers NLE Choppa and Duke Deuce set to perform.

Here’s what you should to know about the competition.

La Mix performs at the 2021 Red Bull Dance Your Style event at Railgarten.

A global dance competition

Red Bull has presented more than 130 events in over 30 countries around the world, and the competition continues in 2023 with the third edition of the Dance Your Style World Championship.

Memphis will be the first of eight U.S. qualifiers held across the country. The winners of each will move on to the Red Bull Dance Your Style National Final in Chicago in May, with the World Final set to take place in Frankfurt, Germany, in November.

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The competition is essentially an unrehearsed street dance competition — there are no set pieces or choreography, no preselection of music or songs, and no judges or formal polls involved, but rather the audience in attendance decides the winner of the competition.

As Red Bull organizers note: “From hip hop to house, locking to popping — dancers participating in Red Bull Dance Your Style will need to wow the crowd and ultimately win their vote… testing freestyle and musicality skills through unpredictable mainstream tracks ranging from recent global hits to classic beats.”

Memphis moves

The Bluff City has a rich history of both hip-hop and street dance, as the birthplace of jookin’.

An outgrowth of the gangsta walk and buckin’ street-dance styles that accompanied the rise of Memphis hip-hop in the 1990s, jookin’ has become one of the city’s greatest cultural exports in recent years. This “Memphicentric” form of artistic expression has been taken everywhere from the New York City Ballet to the Super Bowl halftime show via Memphis dancer Charles “Lil Buck” Riley, the most celebrated exponent of the form.

Jadyn Smooth won the 2021 Red Bull Dance Your Style at Railgarten. Smooth will be back to compete at Crosstown on Saturday.

It will be the current crop of young up-and-coming Memphis movers going for the title Saturday. This includes 2021 Red Bull Dance Your Style Memphis champion Jadyn Smooth, as well as jookin’ specialists Gangsta E and Trent Jeray.

The Crosstown competition will also see Detroit’s Queen of Jit, Queen Gabby, Houston’s Prince Wayne and “Pitch Perfect 2” performer Robo Steve among the regional and national talents vying for the title.

NLE Choppa and Duke Deuce to perform

The two guest stars slated for Red Bull event are ascendant Memphis’ rap stars Duke Deuce and NLE Choppa.

When it comes to contemporary Memphis hip-hop and dancing, few artists combine both as well as Whitehaven native Deuce. Released in 2018, Deuce’s breakout his “Whole Lotta” would come to define his throwback M-Town aesthetic. Fueling the success of “Whole Lotta” was the “Style Dance” that Deuce developed to go along with the track — a set of moves derived from jookin’ and gangsta walking, and heavily influenced by Three 6 Mafia’s Crunchy Black.

Memphis rapper Duke Deuce teaches jookin dance class at L.Y.E. Academy for kids on Monday, Oct. 24, 2022.

The meteoric rise of NLE Choppa has also relied heavily on a combination of music and moves. A native of the Parkway Village area in East Memphis, NLE Choppa — born Bryson Potts — exploded on the national scene in 2018, as a 16-year-old rap phenom, while attending Cordova High School. Choppa would go on to sign with major label Warner Music, dropping his debut for the company, “Top Shotta,” in 2020, and has released a series of hit singles and mixtapes that have been streamed well over 3 billion times. In the process, Choppa has defined his style by creating a series of original dances, dance-fueled videos and online dance challenges.

Time and tickets

The Red Bull Dance Your Style Memphis competition will take place Saturday evening at Crosstown Concourse’s central atrium. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. The competition is set to start 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $5 and available at Eventbrite.

This was originally published on “

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