Last year Marrickville Youth Resource Centre (MYRC) hosted ‘Popping Nation’ – a highly successful series of dance themed events. It provided a safe space (drug and alcohol free) for young people from the Inner West Council area to hang out and get involved in a healthy lifestyle activity. For the young people involved in running the program it was an opportunity to get mentoring and learn essential skills in event planning and production.

Participants from the Popping Nation project at Marrickville Youth Resource Centre, which was funded as part of the CDAT program strut their dub step moves for the Stronger Together CDAT  Conference in NSW last November.

In total there were four events held throughout the year with an average attendance of 150 young people (includes families and friends). Each event typically consisted of an early BBQ during set up and practice, followed by the main event which was a series of heats with teams of dancers sparring off in the ‘Popping’ style. There was an interval that included a second BBQ (lots of people to feed) and some half time entertainment.

This very popular event was booked out within three days of registrations opening, culminating in six teams competing for the highly coveted Popping Nation title. The events hosted guest judges from overseas and visiting teams from other parts of Australia.

These events were sponsored by Inner West Council and the Alcohol and Drug Foundation (ADF). The ADF provided a small grant towards the end of the season which helped fund the making of a documentary to capture the event and assist in future promotion. As a spin-off we had members of an all-stars crew put on some demonstrations at the Marrickville Festival as well as at the NSW Community Drug Action Team Conference with great success.

This year’s events are already underway with registrations accepted and teams selected. Our first event is booked for Sunday 9th April 2017.

We have great plans to build on what we achieved last year, making events more interactive, giving spectators a chance to try out this unique style of dance for themselves with free taster workshops. There will also be live music entertainment showcasing local hip hop acts at the beginning of each event to give a ‘block party’ feel to the day. We’re in negotiations with Radio Skid Row the local radio station to have either a live broadcast at each event or some form of ‘Vox Pop’ recorded for future broadcasts.

The program was so successful last year that more agencies are now supporting the activity. Apart from the Marrickville CDAT and MYRC Popping Nation now has Save-A-Mate (Red Cross), Barnardos Australia, PCYC Balmain, Headspace Ashfield and Good Shepherd Australia New Zealand as active partners.

Peter Whitecross, co-written with Tom McDonald from MYRC

Watch the mini-documentary of Popping Nation’s grand final.