B-boy Ben Egan talks to Shelley Carter about juggling his day job in a bank with global break dance success – and why he’s called the Owl
Bank worker and top break dancer Ben Egan (aka Owl) is one of the UK’s, if not the world’s, foremost B-boys – that’s break dancers to you and me! Training six days a week in the car park of his Southside apartment block and at Aston University, his body is able to make shapes and perform jaw-dropping tricks that look impossible. His Birmingham team of dancers known as Mad Dog Krew (MDK) have just returned from a successful trip to Singapore where they came second in the World Cup. But it’s not just sport to Ben, it’s a complete way of life. He said: “I used to mess about doing flips and stuff with my mates. I started a course at the Hippodrome 11 years ago as part of DanceXchange run by a guy called Marso and I just loved it. It wasn’t just the dancing, but the culture and the people too.” His former teacher and one of his ‘heroes,’ Marso is also part of MDK, so they train and compete together.
LACK OF SLEEP
Working full time in a bank seems at odds with the freedom and philosophy of dance, but it pays the bills and allows Ben to travel all over the globe to compete. “Some countries like Korea and the US fund their team’s travel, but not in the UK and actually I’m happy with that. If somebody was paying me to do this it might become a job.” In June he’s competing in Holland followed by Vietnam in October, but there’s little time to explore such destinations as Ben does all this with his standard holiday allocation from the bank. With working, training, travelling and competing there’s isn’t much time for sleep, hence the name given to him by the team, Owl. “I drink a lot of caffeine!”
HOME TOWN HOPE
Ben lives in the heart of the city, a stone’s throw from where it all began and won’t need to take time off work to travel to his next competition as it’s right here in Brum. The UK leg of the Red Bull BC One competition takes place at the Q Club this month and Ben’s thrilled it will be in his home town. The competition known as a cypher in the break dancing arena, will see 16 competitors including Ben competing over four intense knockout stages until one is crowned winner. Judged on their style, skill, execution and routine, the winner will go through to the Western Europe final. The cypher is a one-on-one competition rather than Ben’s preferred eight-on-eight crew battle, but it’s his chance to be crowned the UK’s best one-on-one B-boy in his home town, so it’s hugely exciting.
Now in his mid-twenties and at the top of his game I wonder who inspired Ben along the way and spurred him on to be the best? “Mouse was a pioneer. He’s helped me and has given me some sound advice and Marso has influenced me a lot too. He is the first person I saw do this live,” he said. Mouse is Ereson Capiton who moved to the UK from the Philippines in 1996 and was crowned B-boy World Champion in 2006. Now Ben is hoping it’s his turn to be No.1 – and 2014 will be the year of the Owl.