Thousands celebrate Southside

ROB KIDD
Last updated 16:54 13/10/2012
ARTS
BODY ROCK: Southside Arts festival ambassador Parris Goebel.

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The Southside Arts Festival exploded into life today with some hip-hop swagger.

Things officially got underway yesterday but it was the "Southside Gig" featuring graffiti art, hip-hop and B-boy dancing at Manukau's TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre that really kicked things off.

The 12-hour event showcased the top Kiwi talent in hip-hop culture judged by local and international judges and Auckland City Council event organiser Leisa Siteine said it was always a surprise to see the depth of talent in South Auckland.

The wild weather was not enough to keep thousands of people from turning up to see the colourful artists in action.

Powerful winds had ruined a few of the boards that were going to be used in the "Graf Art Battle" but organiser Bobby Hung said there was no real drama, they just improvised and got on with it.

Hung said it was fantastic to see such a variety of people there to take in art forms that did not always make it into the mainstream.

The graffiti-art competition - which attracted 16 of the country's most talented artists from Whangarei to Invercargill - was particularly important, he said, because it was the only national contest of its kind.

"Without it, the scene doesn't have a chance to grow," he said.

The 16-person knockout battle provided a unique platform and Hung said there would definitely be international graffiti enthusiasts keeping a close on the renowned Kiwi talent.

Southside Arts Festival, which was originally an initiative of Manukau City Council, is now into its fifth year and Siteine said with more than 40 events between now and November 11, it was steadily growing.

And it is not just the American-influenced disciplines involved.

Siteine said the fashion shows, theatre performances and exhibitions were not only about providing an opportunity for the creative types involved.

"It's all about promoting a platform for both the artists and the audience too," she said.

As well as the up-and-comers there was also the opportunity for groups based outside New Zealand to come back and show their skills.

ReQuest hip-hop dance crew spend much of their time overseas and, in their last performance before going to the world championships in Las Vegas, showed the audience why they had been so successful over the last few years.

For information on performance times and venues visit southside.org.nz.

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