Masked Men

San Diego’s JabbaWockeeZ are beloved by MTV viewers everywhere for wildly imaginative and athletic performances that helped them land in the top spot on America’s Best Dance Crew, a breakout hit that spawned a live show taking place in Denver tonight. But Rynan “Kid Rainen” Paguio, one of the group’s original members, admits that some JabbaWockeeZ were initially wary about participating.

“We were thinking to ourselves, ‘We don’t want the media to make us look bad,’” he notes. “Being in the underground scene as far as hip-hop and hip-hop dancing, you don’t want people to water down what you do.” He was also concerned about behind-the-scenes portions of the program, which allowed viewers to see them without the signature masks they wear on stage. Fortunately, the final results were positive. “I think it actually helped for people to know the JabbaWockeeZ are normal guys who have fun and goof off,” he says. “But once we put on the masks, it’s go time.”

The team’s stunts take a toll. A few months back, Paguio learned that he’d been dancing with torn meniscus cartilage in one knee for years. Most people would have opted for immediate repair, but he’d committed to touring with the JabbaWockeeZ and other Dance Crew favorites, including Fanny Pak, BreakS8, A.S.I.I.D. and season-two winner Super Crew — so he had the damaged cartilage snipped out instead. “The doctor told me I still need to have reconstructive surgery, but if I keep taking care of myself as far as stretching out, working my knee out, I won’t need it for a couple of years,” he says.

Lucky thing he wears a mask. That way, no one can see him wince.

The America’s Best Dance Crew Live tour stops at the Wells Fargo Theatre, 700 14th Street, at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $31.50 to $51.50. Get them at 303-830-8497 or
Wed., Oct. 8, 2008

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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