Meet Beijing's craziest, queerest club kids: Team Invader

The Beijing-based urban dance troupe work the Beijing club circuit

For almost three decades, China’s homegrown hip-hop has been stuck on the fringes like so many sub-cultures, only hitting the mainstream when sponged of its grimy authenticity.

Despite a broad constellation of prodigious talent, from China’s wild west to its affluent coast, tuning in to a CCTV dance contest will leave fans of the genre rather uninspired. Which is why the members of Beijing-based urban dance troupe Team Invader continue to work the Beijing club circuit in order to pay the bills – which are considerable since they opened their own studio in 2012. Their membership is as diverse as Beijing itself, and by not only welcoming LGBT members but actively assimilating queer aesthetics into their styling and choreography, Team Invader is fusing diversity politics with a ruthless commitment to kicking artistic ass.


Their explosive routines smash ballsy gender-bender visuals into the hyper-masculine world of hiphop, creating a uniquely subversive style that is truly mesmerising. Put simply: these kids celebrate being outsiders, and every high kick, every grind, every roll is a gauntlet hurled at the feet of the flabby facsimile of their art exhibited on state television.


Today, their lead choreographer, Dark, is one of China’s most highly regarded urban dancers, but spent his early years in Beijing in a dank basement flat struggling to make ends meet. Most members tell a similar tale.

One such member is Roy, an androgynous Inner Mongolian with a background in traditional folk dance and a ferociously energetic stage presence. Thanks to a teacher who spotted his talent early on, Roy was able to turn a passion into a career despite the initial reluctance of his parents.


His softly spoken shyness contrasts with the bright-eyed enthusiasm of the chiselled Scorpio Darchy, who jacked in a career in finance (much to the chagrin of, yes, fretful parents) to develop his own confident, sinuous style. Roy is gay, Darchy is straight, and together they have an easy, playful familiarity that is emblematic of the acceptance that is the Team Invader watchword. In Darchy’s words, ‘Each member of society needs to have a sense of self-worth. What people see is the spectacle, but the pain of each individual dancer’s experience is something you can’t feel.’


Team Invader hopes to change hearts and minds, exposing China to the beauty and artistic accomplishment of street dance. Their hardcore vibe, they hope, will awaken other young people to the potential of urban dance as a vehicle for dynamic ideas. Darchy tells us that the goal of the troupe is to ‘Help each member of our “family” to do better, to use their own resources to excel,’ but, he adds, ‘we can’t progress without public support.’

Find Team Invader's schedule via their WeChat (tiwudao).

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