Flight to Fame: How B-Boy Star Arif Became ‘Flying Machine’

Here’s the story of India’s most famous B-boy, Arif Chaudhary, who recently participated in the Red Bull BC One 18

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Video Editor: Ashish Maccune

“I would train on the streets. There was a shop on Nagar Das road. I would practise in the small space in front of that shop after it closed.Nobody has seen that side of me. People see me as a champion, but no one has seen the things I have had to do.”

When Arif Chaudhary would train on the streets and parks of Mumbai’s Jogeshwari, little did he know that he would go on to become one of India’s best known b-boys.

With no formal training whatsoever, Arif learnt his moves from hip-hop dance videos, and dance movies like ‘You Got Served’, ‘Break Out’, ‘Turn It Loose’ and ‘Kickin' It Old Skool’. He got help from a few other dancers in the neighbourhood, namely b-boy Pride Rock and b-boy Sleek Roc, who would coach him and dance with him. His background in martial arts and sports also aided him.

B-boying is a hip hop-based dance form where a dancer has to improvise and dance in sync with the DJ’s beat. Dancers are judged on originality and how good their moves are, among other things.

From local events to national level competitions, the name Flying Machine started to echo all across the b-boying circuit in India as Chaudhary won “almost all the competitions that he participated in”.

Growing up watching Red Bull BC One videos, Chaudhary always dreamt of being the first winner of the India chapter. When it finally happened in 2015, he got to live his dream.

“In 2015, Red Bull BC One India happened, and I always wanted to be the first winner. It’s like I grew up watching this, so I want to be here. From 2012-2015, I won almost every competition that I participated in. So the Red Bull guys gave me a wildcard entry. I got a chance into the Top 16. When I got the news, I was like, ‘This is it! This is do or die’. I won the first BC One in India.”
Arif Chaudhary, B-boy

But things weren’t all sunshine and rainbows in Flying Machine’s book.

“People started DMing me. I started feeling low about how people are expecting so  much from me, and have I not done anything at all. I couldn’t make it. I lost a lot of time. In 2016, I wasn’t ready. I had a lot on my mind, but I couldn’t execute.”
Arif Chaudhary, B-boy

Arif lost most of the competitions that he participated in, and that killed his confidence. That, complemented by a fracture made things worse for him. So he took some time off to get his ‘mojo’ back. He took time off to travel and “to explore himself”.

When Red Bull BC One India happened, he trained for the last two months, took part and made it till the semi-finals. With a revived confidence, he trained harder, took part in more competitions. He would even participate in several international competitions in order to train.

Excited and nervous, Arif walked down the hotel’s hallway to make it to the Red Bull BC One Last Chance Cypher in Zurich. He was scheduled to go up against 31 other b-boys from across the world.

He crashed out of the competition in the qualifier round. Heartbroken, Flying Machine does not intend to take a break from his dancing, but he wants to focus on his education and also wants to get a proper job, while balancing his dancing career.

He hopes to compete again in the next year’s finals.

“B-boying is my escape from everything. Whenever I have a fight with my parents at home...When I dance, I don’t think about anything else in this world. So this is my biggest escape.”
Arif Chaudhary, B-boy

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