In August of 2010, Echo Park krump dancer Manny Fernandez was on his way home from work when a Ford F-250 truck hit him from behind, knocking him off his bike and smashing the frame. He was rushed to the hospital. When he came to, doctors told him he had a concussion and a broken leg. He went home with screws and a metal rod in his left leg, and couldn't hear out of his left ear for weeks.
“I never saw it coming,” says Fernandez.
Fernandez got his start dancing in the late '90s, breaking, popping, and then later clowning and krumping. He has taught street dancing in Japan and judged competitions there, and has appeared in several Krump Kings DVDs — which feature how-to's and battle scenes from krump's founders. He's also been in commercials and music videos, including in the “Hot Right Now” video from English dubstep spinner DJ Fresh, which is creeping toward one million views.
These days Fernandez is known by his dancer name xclusive. He somehow returned to krumping only three months after his accident. At first he couldn't do the moves properly, but after practicing he began to adapt to his weak left leg. Soon, he returned to the 818 Session – a weekly freestyle circle for dancers at midnight in a parking lot in North Hollywood – which this time doubled as a fundraiser for him.
It was his first time back since his accident, and he came on crutches. During the first few songs he sat in a chair, passively watching. But eventually he was moved to stand up and begin moving around a little.
He adjusted his style, working around his weak leg. “I started noticing how I could shift my weight around and not put so much pressure on my leg,” says Fernandez.
Nowadays, it's hard to remember he ever was injured, say his friends and fellow dancers. He's jumping, stomping, and popping his chest like the other krumpers. Once in a while he'll throw in extra moves, for theatrical measure.
“Everybody always asks me, 'Which one is your bad leg?' says Fernandez. “It always makes me laugh because, how could you not know which one my bad leg is? But at the same time, I can move my weight around so nobody else can notice. I end up giving you more of a show, making you forget about my leg.”
Postscript: Tomorrow night, Wednesday, January 4, at 9 pm Fernandez's crew, the Bad Newz family will hold a fundraiser at Utopia Studios in Torrance for another member, J.Bad, who is fighting a deportation case in court.