Luis Carrera was born into a particularly poor and dangerous part of Lima, the capital of Peru. Around seven or eight years old he moved to the north of the city with his family, his mother afraid he would succumb to drugs like other kids his age. Then at 13, a friend asked him to come along to an audition for a dance school offering a five-year scholarship. Until then he had just been doing flips in the street, but both he and his friend got in. After school, they were transported an hour away to learn ballet, contemporary, hip hop, and jazz.
One day, he saw a group of boys he looked up to doing spins and all sorts of crazy moves. “And I was like, I want to do that,” says the 26-year-old B-boy in his thick Peruvian accent. A big fan of anime, he goes by the nom de break Dosu after the Naruto character: a ninja who attacks his opponents with sound. Seeing him break, he packs a lot of power at a diminutive but solid 5’3″.
The young Dosu went up to the boys and asked them if they could teach him, but he ended up getting more than he bargained for. Turns out, as things sometimes do, that there was a competition in Dosu’s neighborhood, but in order to compete you had to have someone on your team who lived there.
“So they asked me, ’Do you want to be part of the team so we can compete today?'” Dosu was apprehensive, having literally just started. Luckily, though, they taught him enough that day to win the competition and since then Dosu’s been training at the art of breaking.
Breakdancing—or as it was originally known, break-boying or b-boying—was one of the foundational elements of hip-hop. Along with emceeing, deejaying, and graffiti tagging, breaking came of age in The Bronx in the 1970s. Utilizing acrobatic and gymnastic moves, with influences from James Brown to Kung Fu, b-boys and b-girls would show off their freestyle skills during the DJ’s breakdown, or break, of a song.
If you don’t mind the idea of Baz Luhrmann telling the history of hip hop, Netflix’s disco-y departed The Get Down provides all this background info along with some occasionally inspired moments. See also: Christina Aguilera’s would-be/shoulda-been gay anthem “Telepathy.”
That breaking found its way to a Peruvian ghetto some thirty years after its inception is no surprise considering hip hop’s global influence. Another sign: The International Olympic Committee is considering adding breakdancing to the 2024 Summer Games.
In 2013, Dosu made his first trip to the States to learn, train, and compete here. He also met someone and began considering the possibility of living in America. The following year, fate two-stepped in again when he got a few months of free classes at Broadway Dancer Center thanks to a partnership the New York studio had with his dance school. The boy he had met the year prior invited Dosu to stay with him while in the city. He was convinced—he would move to the United States.
Dosu had never told anyone back home that he was gay. He had grown up with a very limited view and experience of homosexuality. In Peru, being gay was synonymous with being effeminate and therefore carried a stigma. Because, you know, misogyny. Two weeks before he officially moved to the U.S. Dosu came out to his mother.
“She was crying. She had no words. She thought I was kidding. And she just left the room,” Dosu recalls. Things were awkward between them for about a week until she reached out to him. She told him she had realized she was going about this all wrong.
“We’re very Catholic and very religious,” he says. “She was like, ’I just want you to be happy. And if you want to be happy that way, I will support you.’ And then the switch changed and everything was back to normal, like if I’d never said anything. I was loved again. It felt amazing right before I came here.”
Dosu continues, “She was just scared, like, ’Does that mean you are going to be wearing high heels like a woman all the time?’ I said, ’No, not all the time, Mom, but maybe…’ [laughs].”
I caught up with Dosu before he wove himself into various pretzel-like shapes in Red Bull’s BC One B-Boy National Cypher in Houston, where he made it into the semi-finals. Here, we chat about how breaking changed his life, the challenges of being an openly gay b-boy, and his Oddly-on fave for this season of Drag Race.
What’s it been like being out in America versus Peru?
It’s so easy, man. Back in Peru it’s so hard. Like when I came out and people in Peru first started knowing—because I was posting pictures of my partner at the time—people thought I was joking or didn’t believe it because nobody saw me doing anything feminine. For them, if you want to be gay you have to be like a woman because that’s how people are there. But here, you can be who you are. Everybody respects you, in my experience. I haven’t had any type of discrimination or anything like that. So it’s great. It’s great.
What’s it like being gay in breakdancing?
Okay, so that’s a different story [laughs]. It was hard at first. I think it comes down to who you are as a b-boy. Like, if you’re not good, then they will not respect you as much. Especially if you’re gay. [At first they thought] I was just going to try to hit on them. I’m like, No, I just want to learn from you, I just want to come train with you. But I had like a lot of people just stop talking to me or pretend they didn’t know me and things like that. Not only here, but in Peru as well. But as I started winning events and getting my name bigger and traveling and being part of competitions, all these people came back to talk to me again.
So as long as you’re good…
Yeah, I mean for the most part I’ve had a lot of acceptance. When I met my crew in Philadelphia, when they invited me to be part of the crew, they knew I was gay and they respected me. They made jokes obviously because we all make jokes about everything. We laughed together and it was great. I don’t think I have had any really bad experiences about being gay and coming out in the b-boy scene. I’ve posted pictures on my Facebook being in the Pride parade in New York City and everything. And I feel like being here in the States showed me that it’s not wrong [to be gay]. It’s just like be yourself, and if they like you, they like you; if they don’t, they don’t. You just do you and that’s how you do it.
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Pride parade NYC 2018. I had an amazing time in NYC this weekend. I can’t express with words how much happiness I was able to see, feel, and share during this weekend. Always proud ️. . . . . . #pride #parade #NYC #lgbtq #happypride #happyness #pridemonth #nycpride2018 #nycpride #prideparade2018 #fun #love #bboy #dancer #freeze #proud #gay #instapride #picoftheday #chilling #rinbow #flag
Do you have any other gay friends in breaking?
Yes actually I do, but I don’t think I want to out any people. But I have one really close friend, he’s actually in my group. His b-boy name is Lane. The first time I met him, I didn’t know he was gay. We went to a competition and he introduced me to his “roommate” and then I knew something was up [laughs]. Then he came out to me because we were joking about something, and I don’t know how it happened, but I said, “Oh I’m gay.” And he said, “Oh, I’m gay too.” And we just kicked it since then. He lives near my house so we also do stuff together.
And he’s out too?
He’s out, he’s out, yeah, that’s why I mentioned him. He’s my closest friend. I know there are other people on the scene but there aren’t many at all.
That’s why it’s important to tell your story: To make it easier for other people to come out, I think.
Yeah. I mean, it’s hard when you’re on the break scene because everything is about being masculine and being the best, who can be the roughest. And yeah, you can pretend or you can do that when you’re dancing, but like in your life, you just [have to] be you, y’know.
How do you approach breakdancing? How would you describe your style?
I would describe it as I have everything—I have power moves, it’s just one of the elements. I have footwork, I got top rock, freezes, and the most important thing I have: originality. So I’m like a whole package. I’m still working on getting better and better, but yeah, I have everything.
How do you train?
I train in my apartment. I don’t have furniture there because I would not have a space, I need to just have the floor. I train Monday through Thursday consistently every night and then Friday, Saturday, Sunday it depends on what am I doing; I try to train when I get a chance.
Do you have a job outside of breaking?
Yeah, I’m a massage therapist. And so I work my own schedule, I travel to people’s houses, I take people in my apartment—I have a studio for it. I work on my own so I can actually mess with my schedule if I need to.
What you do in your downtime?
I love drag shows. I go to watch them and spend my money there. I love going to the movies. I love going to eat. I love traveling, going to new places, and meeting new people. I definitely love road trips and I love music a lot. Live music is my thing. Live music, live performance.
Do you have a favorite drag queen?
I have three favorites. Obviously RuPaul would be the first, and then Raven, and Detox. I don’t have the neon colors that she has, but it’s on my list.
Have you watched Drag Race this season?
Yeah, yeah. My favorite, I mean, I have two favorites: Brooke Lynn and Yvie Oddly. I love her.
Who got voted off on Thursday?
So you’re torn between Brooke Lynn and Yvie?
Well, I want Yvie to win the most. She’s my favorite favorite. I hope she wins. She’s weird. Which is great. But that lip sync, though.
Between her and Brooke Lynn? Everything.
I watch that before practice to get inspired.
So if you could lip sync for your life, what song would you do?
Oh my god, you really went there. I haven’t thought about it…I know this is totally crazy, but probably “Read U Wrote U”…except Roxxxy Andrews’ part [laugh].
What song or album are you listening to right now?
My favorite artists to listen to are Lady Gaga, Elton John, and Billy Joel. I’m old school. I have to go to an Elton John concert before he stops singing. I went to Billy Joel twice now. So I want to go see Lady Gaga and Elton John.
Are you gonna go see Gaga in Vegas?
Really? [Laughs] If I had the money I would. Actually, this guy I met while I was in the dance school in Peru, he’s her dancer.
Where do you hope breakdancing will take you?
Well, I want to inspire people the way I was inspired. When I was in Peru, a lot of people told me that I wouldn’t make it, that I’d stay in Peru, and be really poor. They told me not to dance because it wouldn’t make anything out of my life. And I always wanted to prove those people wrong because it would hurt my feelings—I love this dance so much. I want to pass on the message to everybody that you can do it. Don’t listen to other people. Go hard, believe in your dreams, and keep going. That’s why I’m here. That’s why I keep fighting. My main goal is obviously to win Red Bull B.C. One, but even just being on that stage in the world finals—that would make my world. But I definitely want to inspire people, especially people from Peru. I know they have the talent, that they can do it. Money is always a problem, but if you put your mind to it, you will always find your way.