New studio offers crash course in hip hop for London youth

Despite pushing back grand opening because of pandemic, 519 School of Hip Hop opens in London

519 School of Hip Hop welcomes Londoners with an Open House event Saturday

Jim Han, aka JFX, is a London breakdancer and co-founder of the 519 School of Hip Hop. (Submitted)

London parents now have one more option on the list of summer activities available for their kids.

There's swimming, coding, but what about learning about the elements of hip hop, like breakdancing, DJing, emceeing and graffiti?

The 519 School of Hip Hop hopes to offer just that. After the pandemic derailed its initial plans for a May start, the studio is opening the doors to its Little Simcoe St. studio with an Open House event on August 08.

"We're looking to turn this physical space into a creative hub for London artists," said co-founder Jim Han (aka JFX), an established breakdancer with London's Ill At Will Dance Crew.

"My main discipline is dance, but I've always been a fan of hip hop culture, which incorporates visual art and music. Building an appreciation for all the cultural components and elements is very vital for the preservation of the culture."

Fostering self-identity

Han says an important part of his studio's philosophy is to teach students about all of the elements of hip hop culture, as opposed to simply being a dance class. Instructors with an expertise in visual art, spoken word poetry, and music production are brought into the fold to teach kids about their respective mediums through a hip hop lens. Various lessons and discussions about the history of hip hop are also offered through the 519 School of Hip Hop's Instagram page.

"It stems from having a self-identity where you can rely on one or on multiple forms of expression to have a stronger sense of self-identification. And through that, you build confidence. (It's not always about) becoming a good dancer. These lessons will be transferable in so many aspects of life."

519 School of Hip Hop founder Jim Han hopes to preserve hip hop culture by passing along breakdancing techniques, along with music production and visual art skills to younger generations. (Submitted)

Finding hip hop in South Korea

Han says he approaches his role as a teacher of an art form rooted in Black American culture as "a lifelong student." He discovered hip hop as a child growing up in South Korea.

"I didn't grow up in the dance studio environment," Han said. "My exposure to hip hop culture started through a comic book called Hip Hop that I used to read when I was 11 years old, and watching dance videos back in Korea. But I didn't start taking dance seriously until I moved to Windsor for university."

"I see my role as someone who's passing the torch, and I always approach my teaching as a student. If we're able to share with our students that we're all here to participate together and learn more about the origins, I think that's what we can continue doing." 

The 519 School of Hip Hop is holding the first of several Open House events this Saturday at 2pm. Visit the studio's website for more details.

Afternoon Drive host Chris dela Torre speaks to Jim Han, co-founder of the 519 School of Hip Hop. The newly opened studio aims to teach Londoners about breakdancing, emceeing, DJing and graffiti. 8:20