Bring It On: Interview with Checkered Minds


boty 2015
by Josephine Bahari

There are just some people who work well in a team. Sherman Lim and his friends are a good example and together, they call themselves “Checkered Minds,” a local dance crew consisting of four boys with the same passion for street dancing who met in their secondary school days. Formed in 2007, Checkered Minds aims to inspire the world with their dance moves.

The day I had a chat with them was a warm and busy one. The Singapore Street Festival: Battle of The Year (BOTY) event was about to start, and technicians and stage crew members were setting up the stage. It was eleven-thirty in the morning when I saw Sherman Lim, one of the members of Checkered Minds, walking speedily towards me. The word “rush” would accurately describe his way of walking and even his chatter.

Sadly, our talk had to be cut short due to his busy schedule – office hours and whatnot.

Q: Can you explain what you do?
A: Basically, I’ve two jobs – normal office work and a full-time dance instructor. It’s tough to balance two different careers at one go, but it’s working out just fine.

Q: Does dancing affect your work?
A: I try to let it not affect my work, but sometimes it does. Very rarely, though.

Q: How did you guys get interested in dancing?
A: I got interested in dance through a friend. He introduced me to it and I was hooked ever since then.

Q: Do you have any embarrassing moments?
A: Not that I know of, I don’t think so. We’ve always done well; no embarrassing moments that I can think of. If anything, maybe just missing a few steps, but nothing major.

Q: What’s your favourite dance move?
A: This is a tough one, but head spins. It doesn’t hurt because we get used to it over time.

Q: How do you feel when you perform?
A: Honestly, when I perform I don’t feel much, because it’s a one-way kind of interaction. You’re just performing for the crowd. We enjoy it a lot more when we battle instead than when we perform.

Q: What is the bboy culture like in Singapore?
A: In general, hip hop is really broad. Basically, hiphop is made by and for the youth. The main idea is to get troubled youths away from their problems and turn all these problems into something positive. So dance is actually a very positive avenue – the entire hiphop culture, actually. I mean there’s VJ-ing, MC-ing, bboying, graffiti writing and it’s all considered under one roof – that is hip hop. So whichever category or element you choose to do, it’s supposed to focus all your energy on something positive. But in Singapore, it’s still growing and it’s still new. My mentor was a pioneer himself, so we’re only a couple of generations old but yeah, it’s still growing.

Q: Any word for aspiring bboy dancers?
A: The younger people/generation should be more informed of the culture because most of them are just watching YouTube videos – which is a good platform, as it does help and gives everyone the opportunity to learn wherever they are – but I think it’s always best to learn from someone on a one-to-one basis. It’s always good for starters to learn from pioneers of the scene.