Q & A with Maxt Out emcee Mookie Washington
The first time Maxt Out creator Joanna Vargas met Mookie Washington was at a Myspace party hosted at the Hollywood Athletic Club in 2003. At the time, they were both performing, and Mookie was in L.A. Breakers. After the party Joanna and Mookie stayed in touch and became friends. When Joanna added a b-boy element to Maxt Out in 2004 she thought Mookie would make a great emcee for the event. Mookie had never emceed before, but he gave it a whirl and shared the stage with emcee Fresh.
In 2005, Mookie Washington graduated to emceeing the Junior division at the Maxt Out Dance Competition, and by 2006 he was emceeing the entire event. Year after year he became the face of Maxt Out. As people in the dance competition industry began to notice him they would ask Joanna for his number, and when they asked where she found him she would say a Myspace party.
Since being discovered on the Maxt Out stage he quickly became a world-renowned emcee, and hosts some of the biggest hip hop events of the year. “Hosting Maxt Out has been one of the greatest eye openers for me,” said Mookie Washington. “I’m very grateful to be a part of the competition.”
Mookie thinks of himself as the party motivator, and he sets the tone for what will happen with undivided attention to the dancers, judges, and audience. He doesn’t play favorites and stays neutral, because he knows what it’s like to be the underdog.
He will be returning to the Maxt Out stage as emcee on November 18th for the 12th Annual Competition. We caught up with Mookie over the phone- he shared what’s hot this season in the dance world, who’s on his music playlist, and he had a message for all the competing Maxt Out dancers.
How did Mookie become your nickname?
My mom gave it to me, but I get all choked up when I tell the whole story- so I’m going to leave it at that.
What’s your favorite dance style?
I would have to say all of them. There’s a reason why each dancer is committed to and passionate about their style, and that’s what motivates them. They have an important story behind what they do.
What’s hot right now?
Maxt Out is known for hard-hitting choreo. Everyone that comes to the table has a way of adding their performance value. A lot of new school dances have taken our community by storm: crumping, house dancing, popping and tutting.
I would love to see more traditional and foundation choreo that incorporates b-boying, b-girling, and it tells the story with the emcee and DJ. Both the judges and the audience are looking for foundation. If you’re breakdancing or freezing it really comes down to musicality.
What has been some of the most significant changes you’ve seen during the Maxt Out competitions?
The new choreo coming out of it has evolved. There are new styles, crowd favorites keep changing, and the level of difficulty in choreo is always being raised as dancers are able to showcase their thoughts, passions, and dreams.
The dancers show their face and love, which broadens the community and togetherness. All the different groups are tough competitors, but they show their love.
If we stumbled upon your iPod what would be on it?
I’m into hip hop, beats, and the way a song sounds. I focus on the beat- so people can feel where the music comes from- and the old school comes first.
All of my shout outs go to underground DJ’s: DJ Abel, DJ Episode, DJ Khai Star, DJ Esco, DJ Soul Rain, DJ Element, DJ BZ Bates, DJ Albert. They all have a musical vibe, and they blend the music when they play R & B, Funk, and Old School. They never forget how the music feels, so that’s where I get my music from. It’s also my inspiration for teaching my dance teams and classes.
What’s the next year look like for you?
I will be at the Hallowscream event for Downtown Alhambra, Maxt Out Dance Competition is November 18th, and next summer I will be at Alhambra’s Hot Spot in August. The rest of the year I will be at Urban Street Jam, Hip Hop International Championships in America, Ireland, and Canada. Then there’s the World Hip Hop Championships, Freestyle Sessions, B-Boy Battles, All The Way Live, Vibe, Urban Street Jams, Prelude, Breakthough, Culture Shock Dance Showcase in San Diego, and SIO and Neon in Las Vegas. All of these events show me a lot of love, and they are close to my heart.
Where does a successful emcee like you go from here?
I really want to do something big with emceeing. I would also love to host my own dance event one day- while continuing to support everyone else’s events.
It’s the same thing with dancers at these competitions they share the music, love, and knowledge. Every time I host an event I bring that to the forefront. I want to inspire and be inspired by whoever is on the stage.
What’s the difference in expression between Maxt Out’s competition and others?
What stands out is that Maxt Out is a one day event. The minors and the majors of all levels compete in one day. The dancers risk it all to be at the competition, and they dance for the audience.
Every dancer stands out with their dedication and whole-hearted approach, which takes the competition to the next level. The event value goes up each year, and the dancers raise the bar. Each crew is family oriented. I go above and beyond to make sure everyone is happy, and they do the same back. It makes the event special.
Maxt Out has made dancers incredibly known. After they are in the competition they launch their dance careers on TV shows. If you’re somebody in the dance community then you came from Maxt Out.
There are so many dancers that come from all over the place, and are respected: Jay Chris Moore, Choreo Cookies, Academy of Villains on America’s Got Talent, GRV from World Hip Hop Championships, Choreotics, Fanny Pack, Culture Shock, Future Shock, Mini Shock, Kaba Modern. I could keep going all day. They got their start at Maxt Out, and they bring it back to the stage, so you can be inspired by who inspired you.
Speaking of giving back.. Are there any community fundraisers you want to shout out?
Definitely Maxt Out’s Dance for Peace charity, SIO, World Hip Hop Championships, and all the events where money goes to the dancers to give them opportunities, placement, and interviews for their dance careers.
What message do you want to share with the Maxt Out dance community?
Two things: Never be afraid to be you, express you, and most importantly love you. No one can take that from you- and nobody can be you- better than you.
Don’t forget it’s not about being better than someone when you dance or compete against them. It’s about knowing that you’re dancing with your heart, mind, body, and soul. If you all do that then we all win!!!
You can find Mookie Washington on Facebook and Instagram, he teaches hip hop b-boying, locking, popping and house at Mission Viejo Dance. He also sends a shout out to his groups: Maxt Out, HHI, Fallen Kings, and MV Crew.