FLO London | In conversation with Ruben Chi & Roché Apinsa of Ghetto Funk Collective (2024)

“We first came together for our love for dance and funk culture, after a while this love for what we do turned into a vision.”

- Ruben Chi & Roché Apinsa

Ghetto Funk Collective is a revolutionary force that embodies an innovative and dynamic philosophy, bringing together a diverse array of talented creatives including dancers, DJs, producers, MCs, and more. This groundbreaking collective was founded by Ruben Chi and Roché Apinsa, who bonded over their shared love for funk music and the electrifying dance style of Locking, winning numerous international dance battles and establishing a profound connection to funk culture.

Passionate about creating and sharing art that ignites movement and emotion, the Collective from Amsterdam has truly become a family - cultivating a distinctive movement, sound, and experience that embodies their shared love for funk culture. Beyond the music, they embrace the lifestyle and essence of funk, representing the spirit of this genre in the 21st century. Their influence is widespread, having rapidly emerged as one of the most influential forces in the global funk scene, creating an eclectic and dynamic community.

How did Ghetto Funk Collective come together and why?

We first came together for our love for dance and funk culture, after a while this love for what we do turned into a vision. We wanted to fuel the dance style “Locking” by making new noise in the dance scene back then, we felt that the global Locking scene was going in a specific way and we wanted to do it differently, we went our own way. We felt that this specific style was not sufficiently represented in the current global dance community and that it sometimes was really missing the essence of why we loved this dance so much, the funk! Recognising the significance of sharing our vision with others who shared the same passion and purpose, we reached out to our people to join our movement, culminating in the formation of the Ghetto Funk Collective.

What inspired you to create Ghetto Funk Collective?

Roché: We saw the importance of sharing our vision with others who shared the same passion for Funk culture, and therefore contacted more likeminded people to join the movement. This led to the creation of the Ghetto Funk Collective. Our goal is to show the world what funk is really about and to strengthen the funk scene.

Ruben: I think it also originated as a counter-narrative to where the global (funk) dance scene was heading at that time, but on the other hand, it just happened. We came together first, naturally with our love and passion for it, and from this passion, the collective was born.

How have the creative and performing arts that you have seen throughout your life influenced the performing arts that you create?

Roché: I believe that everything we do is inspired by those who came before us, not just in dance and art but also in the personal experiences that life brings. These experiences shape us and influence our creative expression. As artists, we draw from our past, our present, and our surroundings to create something new and meaningful. It's important to honor those who came before us.

Ruben: *agrees with Roché* I think we also look at the lives of many great musicians, who also greatly inspires us, because music in general will always be the thriving force for our movement.

How would you introduce Ghetto Funk Collective to someone who has never heard of the Collective before?


Ruben: Well I think we can always try to explain it in words, but I feel it never really gets to the core of it. So instead of explaining it in words, I would tell them to come and see one of our performances or events. You have to experience and feel it to understand what we are doing.

How would you say you’ve grown as performers since you first started?


Roché: A lot.


Ruben: I think that, in the past, I would have performed a performance as a standout performance. However, with Ghetto Funk, when we're on stage, we just enjoy being together, being in the moment. It has transformed from performing a show to just enjoying it and being ourselves on stage, in an authentic way.

You will be performing at Breakin’ Convention 2023 at Sadler’s Wells Theatre. Can you tell us a bit about what we can expect from Ghetto Funk Collective?


Roché: One hell of a funky ride. - You have to see it, to feel it.

How would you define your creative process?


Roché: We work from music, with feeling. I believe that our creative process is difficult to define as it is intuitive and sometimes spontaneous. It might be challenging for an outsider to understand. Music is always our starting point when we create something. It provides a certain feeling, and from that feeling, we fuel our creation.

Ruben: The music acts as the glue that brings us together whether we are dancing, performing, organizing an event, teaching the new generation or you name it.

What would you say is the most challenging thing about what you do?


Roché: I think to do all that we do and have two children, to have a career and still be able to be a father, a boyfriend, actually a family man, is a challenging task. But at the same time, I know what I'm doing, and the collaboration with Ruben makes it all easier.

Ruben: Ghetto Funk is also like a child that we raise with the same love and care.

Roché: Not everything is meant for everyone. There is no other Ruben. Even though it's challenging, I know that we can do this as brothers.

Ruben: We are very ambitious, but we always remain true to ourselves. Even in total chaos, there is always structure.

Roché: The trust we have in each other is immense, and I know that I can blindly rely on him when we move in a different direction than I envisioned.

What are your top three favourite performances of all time and why?

We just couldn’t make a top three, so here is our top four:

1. JUSTE DEBOUT (semi) FINAL

Ghetto Funk vs Funky J & Vovan
This battle was a special one, because we lost against the same opponents a couple of years before, we didn’t agree on the loss but nonetheless took it. So during this battle, we had something to settle.

2. GRAND PRIX F1 Singapore

In Singapore we were one of the headline performances during the Grand Prix Formula 1 event, Ruben had just been in surgery two months prior after he tore his ACL , but nonetheless we decided to go and do the performance, even though Ruben’s knee wasn’t fully recovered yet. In the end it was an amazing trip together, it definitely was a risk, but it was all worth it in the end.

3. Jungle - GOOD TIMES / PROBLEMZ Music Video

4. North Sea Jazz Performance


This was one of the first shows that we did which really felt good together, I think this is one of those performances that really brought us also closer together and made our vision together stronger, its sometimes so special that these performance moments can also shape bonds stronger, this performance in the end also went insanely viral.

When you look back at your career to date, what makes you feel proud?

Ruben & Roche: That we’ve always trusted our own path, even if that sometimes meant that we had to walk it alone, but we always did it together. I think this only made our connection and brotherhood stronger. The believe in what we do never shivered.

And that at this point in time, after building our collective for years - we can give back. To our peoples and community, and to the next generation. I think we are really proud of that.

What’s next for Ghetto Funk Collective?

Ruben & Roché: The tour of Breakin’ Convention obviously, we are also busy collaborating with The Ruggeds, one of Dutch sickest breaking crew - to create a new performance. “GROOVE” is the name of the performance, the title already explains what we are up to. We will also be organising our own party where all elements of our collective come and thrive together, during the Summer Dance Forever festival in Amsterdam, August 2023. And we have some really amazing collaborations coming up and we are stoked to share and show it with everyone.

Instagram: @ghettofunkcollective

YouTube: Ghetto Funk

Facebook: Ghetto Funk Collective

The Ghetto Funk Collective is set to perform at Sadler's Wells Theatre on 29 April and 30 April 2023, as part of Breakin' Convention 2023. Click here for more. They will also tour nine venues across the UK between May 17th and June 14th. Click here for more dates.

FLO London | In conversation with Ruben Chi & Roché Apinsa of Ghetto Funk Collective (2024)

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