Blackpool hip hop crew performs on ITV this NYE

Young dancers from Blackpool will hit our screens this New Year’s Eve in a celebration of 50 years of hip hop.

The dance crew, from hip hop performing arts organisation House of Wingz, was filmed at Wembley Arena in front of 8,000 people as part of the National Lottery ITV New Year’s Eve Big Bash.

The crew was selected for the NYE celebration in the year that hip hop marked 50 years and for being one of the stand-out organisations of 23,000 who have received Lottery funding in 2023.

It’s projected a lot more self belief into the crew as a whole. We just need to use this to up ourselves in every aspect we can.

Sixteen-year-old Michael is one of 15 young dancers who headed to London to perform at the event which will be hosted by Jason Manford and Alesha Dixon and be aired at 6pm on New Year’s Eve. He and other performers were surprised during their routine by breakdancer Kid Karim who will be representing TeamGB next year as breakdancing becomes an Olympic sport.

“Wembley was a surreal experience, because of how big it is but also because being from Blackpool, you just don’t hear about us in the media much,” he said. “The crew gets told how talented and different we are but I feel like you don’t understand what people mean until you actually put it to some use and we did that on a huge scale.

“I think it’s made us believe we can do a lot more and projected a lot more self belief into the crew as a whole. We just need to use this to up ourselves in every aspect we can.”

Based in central Blackpool, House of Wingz gives young people opportunities to access hip hop arts culture, including breakdance, rap and graffiti. It is also home to Skool of Street – a charity which subsidises classes for children from low-income families and runs school holiday activity and food programmes.

The New Year’s Eve show will also feature performances from Busted, Paloma Faith, Cat Burns. But it’s not the first time House of Wingz has given its young performers a national platform. In 2022 they travelled to London to perform as part of the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. This year they also performed alongside professionals as part of Breakin’ Convention, a touring hip hop stage production produced by hip hop pioneer Jonzi D.

Speaking to Blackpool Social Club at the time, Jonzi D praised House of Wingz and the work they do with young people.

“Hip hop culture started in the Bronx with DJ Kool Herc and his sister Cindy Campbell, who wanted young kids to not be part of the gang violence that existed there at the time,” he said. “Every time we do Blackpool it is such a great environment and it’s interesting because hip hop does come from an impoverished environment and it offers a way for young people to feel good in spite of that.”

“House of Wingz is just completely different to anything that’s going on in the North West,” said Michael. “I don’t think I’ve ever found anywhere that’s doing something similar to House of Wingz. It’s got a completely different energy and love for anyone who comes in. I’ve heard other people say that as soon as they come into House of Wingz they feel welcomed and loved and it’s just a great community to be in and very supportive.”

Michael, left, alongside other crew members and staff at House of Wingz. Photo by Claire Griffiths

Michael has gone on to become a young leader – in line with House of Wingz philosophy of ‘each one teach one’.

“It helps with all the characteristics that you need to succeed in the future,” he said. “It’s an incredible thing to be a part of a 100 per cent helps me as a person.”

House of Wingz co-creative directors are married couple Samantha and Aishley Docherty-Bell.

Having to adapt ourselves to create for TV was incredible and a boost in confidence for us as leaders as well as the kids.

“To be on a stage and part of a performance of that calibre was just absolutely mind blowing really,” said Samantha. “Everything that went into it – the teams that are working on it, the quality, it was an amazing experience and actually quite surreal, especially for our young people.

Sam Docherty-Bell at House of Wingz. Photo by Claire Griffiths

They absolutely deserve to be on that stage as they work tirelessly to be so outstanding in what they do with hip hop dance so to get to be a part of that was absolutely incredible.

“It was an amazing experience for me and Aishley as leaders, choreographers and creative directors too. We are used to making work for the theatre so having to adapt ourselves and also create for TV was incredible and a boost in confidence for us as well as the kids.”

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    Antonia Charlesworth Stack is a journalist and editor from Blackpool. She was deputy editor of Big Issue North magazine and is editor of Blackpool Social Club. Antonia is also the founder of Reclaim Blackpool, a women's safety campaign that began life as an article she wrote for Blackpool Social Club. She's a contributing author to the Lancashire Stories anthology with her story about a Blackpool performer, The Call of The Sea. The book is available for free in libraries across the county.

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