(TODAY NICARAUGA) LEON, Nicaragua — As sunset approaches, Leon’s central plaza explodes with music and dance, but not the typical Central American folkloric kind. A crew of break dancers and rappers shows off “power moves,” spinning on their heads, contorting their bodies, and shooting their legs into the air.
The dancers, who range in age from about 15 to 30, call themselves “b-boys” and “b-girls” — break-boys and break-girls. They are the vanguard of a break dancing hip-hop movement that has spread across Nicaragua in recent years.
As traffic roars around the plaza, a crowd of curious onlookers gathers around the gazebo where they perform. Students on their way home stop to watch in fascination.
“You can’t compare this to karate!” marveled one 12-year-old boy in a school uniform. Turning to a friend, he asked, “When are you going to do that?”
In some countries where the now globalized hip-hop genre has taken root, the music has a sharp political edge. It originated in the Bronx during the 1970s as a way for black Americans to reclaim their collective voice and escape marginalization and racial oppression. But Nicaraguans see it as an outlet to excel as an artist, be it in dance, rap or graffiti. Their form rarely touches on themes of social or political injustice.
One exception is Majo y Mafe, a female rap duo from Managua, the capital. They delight in targeting misogyny.