This past Saturday, as I headed downtown to check out the B-boy Festival at New Era (Battle at Buffalo), I found that the city was relatively jumping with unexpected activities. Surprisingly, much of the activity was being generated by the most unlikely of sources. One of the biggest gatherings that spread out throughout the city was a rather large zombie walk and fundraiser that was stationed at Club W. Although zombie walks are a common occurrence in Buffalo these days, it’s easy to be caught off guard when you’re not expecting to run into one – visitors staying at The Avant would most certainly attest to that.
Just down the street from Club W, but not as far down as the Irish Festival (at The Statler), the New Era parking lot was alive with B-boy and B-girl crews as they competed on-stage for cash prizes and New Era ‘merch’. To tell you the truth, if there was an out-of-town draw this weekend, the B-boy Festival was probably it. The event drew a bunch of crews from Toronto, Erie, Philadelphia, NYC, Syracuse, Rochester and Cleveland to partake in what turned out to be a professionally run dance competition (see Verve) filled with great music, superb talent, and a vibe that turned a normally dead parking lot downtown into a hip, urban ‘street’ festival. “We ended up exceeding our expectations,” Co-organizer Heather Russell told me. “We sold out of the 500 wrist bands and had to resort to stamping hands. To tell you the truth, this was an event that almost didn’t happen – at first The City was not onboard with this festival and we almost didn’t get a permit. But we designed this to be a family friendly event, and it was. I think that we proved that a hip-hop, B-boy festival can be positive for Buffalo, and I know that we opened the minds of a few people who thought that this was a bad idea. Without New Era’s backing this would never have gone through.”
While downtown Buffalo may not have the shopping districts that we are all hoping for (at this moment), there are plenty of ways to ‘keep the lights on’ during the weekends. Out of the ordinary street festivals like the Zombie Walk for Charity and the B-boy Festival can liven up a downtown while driving people to shop and eat at the same time. As for shopping, I bet that New Era did gangbusters on Saturday. Maybe New Era should think about building a permanent stage somewhere on the property? I’m not kidding – I bet they could use it for all sorts of different music and sports-related events throughout the summer.