We had the good fortune of connecting with Anthony (slimboogie) Vankova Armstrong and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Anthony (slimboogie), how do you think about risk?
Risk taking as a movement artist is always in full effect. From traveling outside the country and not knowing the people,food,or environment. To entering a competitive space and battling someone who is always winning. It’s a risk everyday even just sharing content on social media, now everything we do need to fit some mold, a trend. Either you are setting this trend which is a risk or you are following it. And myself find authentic motives extremely important. I strive to do this with every post, every entry to a comp or even a class to share information, conversations with friends exercising things like vulnerability is sometimes a huge risk in a community that somewhat thrives on being in the center. I constantly take the risk because i feel its what shows we are alive, that life exists outside of the bubble we call comfort.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Well to start I’m a dancer from Los Angeles ca. Street dance and the communities have taught me so much, but it has also showed given me a place to share and express my emotions through movement. One of the things I am most proud of is helping build a place for dancers to also share their voices and give them opportunities to travel outside the US.this story begins in 2014 I was working at a place called pelicola pizza. The manager at the store would always see me practicing after work at 11pm-4am at a parking lot around the corner. Sometimes friends would come and also some random homeless people would stop by and watch. My old manger(Jason) pulled me to the side after work one day and said yo bro you should teach classes at the parking lot, it would be so dope! At the time i had very little confidence of it being successful or maybe i just didn’t believe that people would come to learn from me. He them said ‘ why not just try you have nothing to lose’. I sat on that thought for about a week. And then gained the confidence to give it a try. I also noticed that most of the spaces to go and learn dance in Los Angeles was very expensive and on top of that the artist that where teaching where not even getting a fraction of the profit from the classes. They would charge 20 per student and the teacher would only profit 2 dollars per student. So i decided to make a weekly class for 5 dollars. After every class i would take the students to eat and my job and use the money from the class to bond and build with them. At the start it was only about 5 people. Eventually word started to spreed and it went from 5 to 10 10 to 20 and so on. People would walk by the parking lot and see all the dancers and ask me if they can bring their kids, even the police would drive by and play music. It was one of the most unexpected moments in my life. A year later The Lot on the corner of 9th and olive in downtown la because one of the most popular places in la for street dancers. It also started a movement in different countries and people were using this same method, teaching in a parking lot. There was also something magical about dancing in an open space at night. Moving forward the there where about 50 people coming every Tuesday night for class in the parking lot. I was met with many challenges at this time, homeless people being disruptive, noise complaints and other things. I wanted to start bringing guest to teach also and I couldn’t risk them having a bad experience. A friend of mine introduced me to a guy named greenz, also a street dancer who owned a space in downtown la. He wanted to give back to the community and had such a big heart. We connected with a shared vision and decided to make weekly classes at his space for 5 dollars. It was amazing. Seeing the joy in peoples eyes the gratitude from the kids and young adults alike. And me, never even considering this as a possibility was one of the most amazing movements in my life. It was something that I didn’t have in my earlier days learning dance, and it felt so good to see that people also wanted this as much as i did. I started to invite guest from outside of the country that where in la. Extremely well known dancers to teach at the rate of 5 dollars. I would give them all the profit and treated this as a way to build community in Los Angeles. I decided to try to build a crew called the lot original, consisting of some of my close students, friends, and inspirations. I would then go to trying to make events and since i had connections with different organizers over seas I would connect with them on make prelims in Los Angeles and the winner would go to travel and dance in their countries to rep USA. One of the biggest events was funkin styles Germany prelim and the winners from my event (the battle games) would have a chance to battle on stage in Germany. This was such an amazing feeling. And one that gave me so much inspiration
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Wow that’s a pretty tough question. But if it’s a friend i would organize a session to introduce them to some of the dancers in the area. Maybe to them to go get some good food. My wife and I both love a placed called HOPE in studio city. But mainly it would be a session somewhere outdoors or in our studio at home. The difficult things about street dance is that there are not so many places for people to go and express themselves. Most of the clubs in Los Angeles are not very welcoming to the dancers. And the people at these clubs are usually drink or trying to hit on girls. The environment is very different at these type of social gatherings. Until there is a place for us to go that is for dancers i wouldn’t really recommend dancers to go to many place that are not organized by people that understand what we do
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
To be honest i give credit to the whole street dance community. Throughout my dance life i have learned so much about myself, qualities I believe can only be learned from throwing yourself into the world of street dance. I met my teacher Tabo from an old friend of mine named Jonny 5, his introduction to tabo gave me some much insight and understanding of the culture of street dance. From that point i met some of the most talented inspiring people in the world and learned how to take that inspiration to further understand myself and how to control my body emotions and mind.
Other: Most of my accounts are all Slimboogie 777