Bringing Thailand’s gritty, vibrant underground to the futuristic skyline of Singapore, the inaugural instalment of Chang Urban Pulse saw urban creators from the neighbouring nations come together on February 24 to celebrate the thrill of competition and honourable rivalry. Combining the worlds of breakdancing, beatboxing, freestyle rapping and Muay Thai kickboxing, excited guests and competitors alike flocked to Infinite Studios, where its gigantic studio space was transformed into green-lit spectacle of equal parts warehouse party and underground fight club.
As guests tested their own strength at the punching bag arcade game at the entrance, shortly before enjoying pints of Chang beer in anticipation of the evening’s events, all eyes fell on the centre of the room where a boxing ring had been placed to contain the bouts to follow. To warm up the crowd before real blows were exchanged between mighty Muay Thai fighters, local b-boy crew Radikal Forze went head-to-head and toe-to-toe with Thai breakdance outfit 99 Flava. Flexing gravity-defying head-spins and mid-air contortions to the breakdance staple and hip-hop classoc, “The Choice Is Yours” by Blacksheep, the two collectives one-upped each other with increasingly bolder moves. With the reigning champs decided by a crowd applause metre, Radikal Forze came out on top on their home turf.
Then came the physical force, with Muay Thai fighters Cheryl Gwa (Singapore) and Chomyong Kaewwichai (Thailand) duking it out in the women’s category. Through swift fists and lightning-fast kicks, the contenders’ energy and ferocity instantly raised the adrenaline levels in the room, with Gwa reigning supreme despite a warrior’s effort from Kaewwichai. Followed by Singaporean beatboxers Dharni and Blish exchanging vocal percussives in an old school beatbox battle (and, in the true sense of sportsmanship, both leaving the ring with smiles on their faces), the freestyle rap battle between Tech’1 and MasiaOne brought a flurry of excitement amongst onlookers as the rappers clashed lyrical swords. With Tech’1 throwing a few contentious blows into the mix, MasiaOne clapped back with a roaring response, while keeping her ferocious freestyles above the belt but no less savage (the crowd went wild to the line, “You should’ve stayed a flight attendant, go get me coffee and tea”).
For the night’s final exhibition match, Singapore’s Brandon Ng and Thailand’s Kanpetch Pornpichit brought their fists and feet of fury into the ring for a thrilling fight. Both giving it their all and darting around the ring before warring with devastating kicks, the Thai titan ultimately claimed victory. Closing the explosive evening with a party-pumping performance by Thai DJ duo BangBangBang, Singapore’s first ever fight club came to a close with spirits running high.
While the inaugural Chang Urban Pulse gave us a fight club that didn't involve bringing the world to a standstill (thankfully), its celebration of the underground arts and friendly rivalries that bring out the best in their contenders is something we’ll certainly fight for in the future. Round two, we’re ready for you.
Text Trent Davis
Images Chang Beer