Monday, October 8, 2018

By Chris Frost

chris@tricountysentry.com

 

A huge party took place at “The Collection” food annex in Oxnard, Sept. 27, as "Hip-Hop with a Cop" brought out about 500 kids ready to cash in on a good time.

“Kids of all ages got the “4-1-1” on the latest hip-hop dance moves while the crowd reveled in fun. Even more enjoyed the event across Facebook Live, courtesy of the Tri County Sentry.

Hip-Hop Mindset Leader William Venegas said his organization does dance programs with the Oxnard, Rio and Port Hueneme school districts, sees about 1,500 kids a week and decided to expand the fun in the community.

“We’ve done a couple of events with the Oxnard Police Department, and it picked up a lot of buzz, and we wanted to do a big event for the community to come out and enjoy the evening with some basic moves,” he said. “I grew up listening to hip-hop, watching hip-hop dance videos and I didn’t see a lot of it in Oxnard but did see it in Los Angeles, and we wanted to bring this to our hometown. Hip Hop is more G-rated than rap, so it’s a little more kid-friendly.”

Hip-Hop Mindset started three years ago, he said, and it quickly grew.

“I don’t dance, I just organize,” he joked.

Oxnard Police Department Community Affairs Manager Melissa Valdez was handing out brochures for the neighborhood policing team.

“We are fortunate that we have officers assigned to our specific districts here in our community and they deal with our quality of life issues, so whenever we have an event we like to bring our flyers along and hand them out to parents,” she said. “They might not be aware they have officers to contact if they have issues going on in their neighborhood.”

She said Hip-Hop Mindset is a great resource and a chance to connect with the kids in the community further.

“It’s been fun to see our officers get out there with the kids and show them a different side of the badge,” she said. “We’re developing this continuing relationship and not just doing it one time. We are assisting Hip-Hop Mindset to do some after-school workshops for the kids, and it’s helping bridge different gaps in our community.”

The feedback she’s received included perhaps adding country line dancing with the cops in the future at the senior centers, but said both young and old people like to line dance and put on their cowboy boots.

“Maybe that’ll be our next venture,” she said.

Instructor Alex Brajas led the party and said he’s been hip-hop dancing for five years.

“I was dancing for the kids when I was a kid,” he said. “We were dancing at a young age, and we started dancing at schools for people my age or even younger. It’s a blessing because all these kids we see in front of us, they are our future, so you’ve got to protect them. I know we can’t change the world, but we want to help the kids we can. That’s our goal.”

Alex said to accomplish it, he’s worked hard in his garage and at dance studios and the result is a present and blessing.

“You get worn out because you are giving so much energy out, and get overwhelmed by what’s going on because you want to give the kids 110 percent," he said about the program.  "At the end of the event it’s like they took all your energy and you feel it, but it’s a great feeling because you know you did something great."

Oxnard Police Chief Scott Whitney loved seeing the event and said if he could learn some of the dance moves, he’ll get out there.

“This is awesome,” he said. “Just look at all these kids. We’re connecting with the kids and want positive contact with our residents and young people, as well. Most people don’t have a lot of contacts with the police, so we want some positive ones.”

He called it a no-brainer.

“We opened this up for registration, and we had 500 people in just a few days,” he said.

DJ Joey Castaneva said he knows the people at Hip-Hop Mindset and they invited him to come out, join in the fun and share inspiring music that he enjoys.

“It interests me, and my dad was a DJ, so he bothered me to get into this, first with vinyl records, but the computer makes it easier," he said. "The base of DJing can be difficult, but music brings people together, and I enjoy seeing people come together on the dance floor.”

Camarillo resident Audrey Williams and her daughter Shianne had a great time at the event, but Audrey had no plans to dance.

“My daughter has the moves, and she’ll get all her energy out,” she said. “That’s the best part. Seeing her enjoy an activity set up by the cops I think is important because they need to make connections with the community to do their jobs to the best of their ability.”

Shianne liked dancing with all her friends.

“I’m having a good time,” she said.