Bomb Squad Spotlight: Tracey Wong (aka MacTrayy)!

If you’ve been following us on Facebook or Instagram, you might remember a cute and colorful little video that we posted last year in anticipation of National Butt Day:

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The talented human shakin’ these pastel #CakeWalk shells is Seattle dance educator and Bomb Squad babe Tracey Wong. Tracey is formally trained in waacking, voguing, hip-hop, and house, and minored in dance at the University of Washington, where she took courses in modern dance, jazz, and ballet. She also currently reps more than one dance crew; Malicious Allure, a waacking and voguing performance group,  kiki house, and crew, and Chinatown After Hours, a collective group of street dance battlers and organizers for the community.

She’s also the event organizer for Funkee Monkee’s monthly open sessions, as well as the organizer for the annual all-womxn dance battle Queen of the Hill @ Folklife Festival – the largest waacking battle in Seattle, Punk & Funk. She also works at a local and POC-owned boutique called Moksha, located in Seattle’s International District. Not just a boutique, Moksha collaborates with and gives artists platforms for their work.

As if all of that isn’t already completely badass, she’s also training in Northern Shaolin Kung Fu and has recently taking up DJing. You can probably understand why we wanted to learn more about her.

Make sure to keep reading after the Q&A for Tracey’s upcoming classes and dance battle events, plus a sweet behind-the-scenes video of Tracey showing off her moves for this photo shoot!


Have you been a dancer your whole life? What got you into it?

A year after my training in the studio, I began learning more of the foundation in hip hop and other street and club-style dances.

 actually started training in dance at almost the age of 21. I had always loved to groove and get down with my friends at functions and dabbled a little in Lindy hop whenever my mentor would take me, but I never had the financial privilege or knowledge about dance classes that I could take. I took my first hip-hop choreography class with my homie, Alexa at Westlake Dance Center. After that, we kept coming back every week to take it because it was so much fun. After class, we would just be so pumped. We did a student performance called Sign of the Times and after that, I kept dancing more consistently.

More and more opportunities kept coming my way to move towards performing, competing, joining crews, and I kept saying yes and worked hard at whatever I committed to. I worked really hard! What kept me STAYING was learning about the rich culture in street dances and knowing that there was way more than what I thought street dance was. There was a community that worked hard to keep the culture going and help elevate folks.

Did you have any heroes in the dance community growing up? 

Dang, a lot of folks inspired me in the community. I looked up to folks for different reasons and could learn a lot just from watching ’em. One person who comes to mind right now is Rina Pellerin from Vancouver, CA. She inspired me to want to learn how to waack and I took my very first waacking class was with her a few years ago.

Two other people that I look up to as mentors are Kumari Suraj and Dani Tirrell. Both Kumari and Dani have taught me about the importance of understanding the history and roots of street and club-style dances. All these street/ club-dance styles came from black/latinx communities and a lot of the times many folks don’t know much about the culture so there is a lacking of the feeling and essence for the dance styles. I am definitely still learning, but I appreciate these two a lot for being able to challenge me to do better, to explore what inspires me, what the dance means for me, and to keep diving deeper in my own individuality.

One more hero…my boyfriend, Lonnie! He has been with me since day 1 of my dancing and before I thought to continue dancing, he saw the fire in me and told me to always go full out 100% in it because he believed in me. If I never had that push, his constant love and support, I would probably not be where I am today.

You instruct classes on waacking – is it your favorite style of dance? 

Waacking, Voguing, and House are my favorite styles of dance. These are all club-style dances and the dance styles I typically do when I am at the club. These are my favorite because these are styles that help heal me. When I do these dances, I feel feminine and empowered. I feel as if I am re-claiming my body, my sexuality, myself. A decade ago, I was struck and dragged by a speeding car as a pedestrian and had major physical injuries to the body and mind. Functioning physically and mentally were difficult. It was a lot of trauma I was trying to heal from and I am still trying to navigate my healing process with this.

These dance styles are more than dances, but a culture – conversations I share in exchanges with my friends in the dance community. It is so releasing to be able to free myself completely through expression via movement and my experiences to drive my movement.

 

You recently posted a video on Instagram of you DJing – how long have you been DJing? Are we about to see the rise of bb DJ HAI CHEW?

I am definitely a bb when it comes to DJ-ing. However, I am feeling really grateful for so many opportunities being given to me so it drives me to work even harder. I started learning from DJ magicsean in the fall and had my debut in February of this year. I have 3 gigs lined up for next week and it’s so much fun being able to create good vibes especially for my dance community to get down to! I am still trying to decide what my DJ name is going to be, but leaning towards DJ Mac Tray!

If you had a chance to collab on a music video with any musical artist, who would be in your top three choices?

(1) Erykah Badu

(2) Sade

(3) Louie Vega

Last but not least… Favorite Bombsheller design?

#Seattle1890 – I have so much love for Seattle as I grew up in Beacon Hill. Of course, so much has changed since then, but I have mad love for my community of folks that still keep it 206.

#killbill – The Bruce Lee leggings because he and martial arts are huge inspirations for waacking. He is also my role model and makes me feel proud to be a Chinese American.

Tracey in #Jungle


Thank you so much, Tracey, for taking the time to let us get to know you better and for a great photo shoot! You can find Tracey on Instagram as @Mactrayy to stay up to date on what she’s up to next, and make sure to check out some of her upcoming events below this adorable behind-the-scenes video!


 Upcoming Events

Tracey recently placed in semi-finals in a solo competition and her group Malicious Allure placed 2nd in the crew competition! Check out these events if you need a little help with your dance moves or just wanna cheer her crew on at their next battle!

FUNKEE MONKEE :: Funk, Soul, and Disco Open Session 

MONTHLY OPEN SESSIONS

Upcoming Dates: Tuesday, 5/1 and Tuesday, 6/12

830-10pm @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

$5 Drop-In

More info

 

PUNK & FUNK (VOL II) :: Waacking and Open-Styles Dance Battle and Party 

A FUNDRAISER FOR QUEEN OF THE HILL

Saturday, May 5th | 4-10pm @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

*4pm-5pm: Waacking Workshop with Sheena

*530pm: Battles Begin

More info

 

QUEEN OF THE HILL :: All-Ladies 7-to-Smoke Openstyles Dance Battle 

DANCE WORKSHOPS/ PRE-PARTY/ QUALIFIER BATTLE

Saturday, May 26th

12pm-3pm Dance Workshops @ Washington Hall (open to all)

430pm-8pm Qualifier Battle & Dance Party @ The Beacon: Massive Monkees Studio

MAIN EVENT

Saturday, May 27th 2-330pm @ Seattle Center’s Mural Amphitheater

“Special shout-out to Trichome Seattle… a local and POC-owned shop in Chinatown/ID that also supports me and will be helping to sponsor Queen of the Hill. Please go support!” – Tracey

More info

Ana Forrest Is The Real Deal

Ana Tiger Forrest has a fierce gaze. She does not skim the surface. She cuts right to the core. I don’t know if I’ve ever met a harder badass in my life.

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She came to Bombsheller for a photo shoot this month with José Calarco, her partner in business and life. Together they created three new designs with artist Pedro Diniz, based on the artwork of the aboriginal tribes José has spent the last 30 years with in Australia. José is the founder of Descendance, a dance company that puts aboriginal culture on the national stage and advocates for their human rights. Since coming into each other’s lives, Ana and José have blended their pursuits, combining aboriginal music and culture with Forrest yoga poses. I went to the series of workshops they taught in Seattle, and I can say with the conviction of first hand experience that they are the real deal.

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What makes Forrest yoga interesting to Bombsheller is the emphasis on thinking for yourself. Rather than passively accepting traditions handed down from a different era, Ana Forrest pushes yoga forward because she believes practices are meant to evolve to serve people’s lives as they are now. Developed in the 1970s, Forrest yoga is unique for addressing the particular neuroses of the 21st century. The poses and cues are made for people with messed up necks and wrists who have learned pay more attention to their computers than their own bodies. Native American ceremonies and aboriginal wisdom are purposely woven through to remind students of their connection to earth and restore harmony to our frazzled, distracted minds. José brings music and rhythm to the practice to both deepen and elevate the experience.

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Her own practice has evolved over time, most significantly to incorporate the aboriginal teachings brought in by José. Together they travel the world, teaching and singing, with the hope of propelling transformation in as many lives as possible. In their own words, the combined world of Descendance and Forrest yoga is a place of adventure, healing, culture, music, and learning to love again. Who wouldn’t want to live there?

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The three designs in their collection are full of color and stories intended to make your heart sing. So what are you waiting for? Grab a pair, ditch your old habits, and start living your fullest life right now.

Kelly Sue and the Girl Gang

“I’ve called you all here to dismantle the Patriarchy.”- Kelly Sue Deconnick

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Fighting for their lives…and their freedom!

6 months ago I was sitting on the floor next to my desk, staring at our shop copy of the Bitch Planet trade and a couple pairs of our #BitchPlanet leggings. When I imagined them on people, it was on a parade of people celebrating together, tearing down the patriarchy with their bare hands. Like the comic, it was loud and in my face. The design itself is much more subtle though.  A pretty, repeating pattern that we’ve come to call “stealth nerd.” When I wear them out, I only get approached by people “in the know”. “Do you read Bitch Planet?” they whisper.  Usually, no one around us knows what we’re talking about. It feels like we’re in a secret club. It feels cool. Same with the Non-Compliant tattoos. I’ve given more than a couple of knowing nods to someone rocking a NC tattoo.  They smile, we giggle. We’re a part of something. We’re in a secret gang. As much as I like the secret club of NC leggings and tattoos, I knew I couldn’t shoot the product subtly or politely.  I wrote an email to Kelly and the MilkFed team: “My absolute DREAM shoot would be Kelly Sue amongst a group of fierce ladies looking gorgeous and tough.” I pressed send and suddenly felt very heavy. I braced myself for a gentle let down from an intern.  Almost immediately I received a simple reply from Kelly Sue Deconnick: “I’m down.”

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That’s me laughing in shock as Kelly goes straight for the throat.

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Babe with the power

A few months later we had assembled a girl gang. There were a lot of moving targets.  I wanted to show our product on a range of bodies, because we’re really proud we can do that, but also wanted to create an actual girl gang in spirit. With eight models, and five crew we had a team of 13 badasses coming together for this shoot. Most of them had never met each other before. A couple of them I hadn’t met in real life. I wanted everyone on this shoot to have each other’s back. I spent far too much time worrying that shooting a group of strangers would look just like that: a group of strangers.  There is an old sexist trope that women don’t work well together. That we get competitive and will try to outshine one another. That, dear reader, is a large pile of utter bullshit. While shooting, I often heard yelling behind me. I’d turn around and the models would be giving each other piggyback rides, taking selfies and practicing with the butterfly knife. We had created an actual girl gang. They weren’t pretending, they really had each other’s backs. That is one of my favorite side effects of this shoot. Now, I often see these women interacting and supporting each other online. Most of them hadn’t met until this photoshoot, but now they are regulars in each other’s lives. I wasn’t friends with most of these ladies before, but I sure as hell am now.

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So.Many.Selfies.

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For obvious reasons, Jess is the first model I thought of when trying to create a girl gang.

I didn’t sleep the night before the shoot. I went into work early with a coffee and packed everything, pacing around our factory and triple checking my sloppy pile of lists. Ever on time, my good friend and assistant for the day Stephen showed up with our crime van and helped load everything in. We drank more coffee. We got stuck in traffic. We finally got to the studio and started setting up. The Espionage Cosmetics team rolled in chipper and eager to get started. Our wardrobe assistant Dinah (who is also a printer at Bombsheller and had printed all of the leggings for this shoot) came in and started organizing the jewelry and weapons table. I introduced everyone as they came in. “This is Victoria, she’s a badass Librarian. This is Rodina, she was Miss Ethiopia International.” At some point I got a text that Kelly Sue Deconnick and Kit Cox had arrived. I ran upstairs to meet them. After a tour (“This is the weapons table, pick whatever you like, but please don’t stab yourself or your fellow gang members”) Kelly asked if Kit could join the shoot. I played it cool, but I was excited. That morning – while pacing – I had grabbed an extra pair of leggings, tops and shoes “just in case”. Looking back, I’m pretty sure they were always intended for Kit. She had become my main contact at Team MilkFed and I had grown to adore her quick-witted emails. I took them up to hair and makeup and  went back to shooting the madness.

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In real life, Kit is the nicest person. In girl gang universe, Kit is scary as fuck.

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Our amazing hair and make up team from Espionage Cosmetics. They are best described as wizards. Beautiful and talented wizards.

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Dinah (on the left) was in charge of clothing, accessories, weapons, and nail wraps. Fun fact: Dinah also printed all of the leggings for the shoot!

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Helping Essie with her “shark knife”

We shot for about 5 hours. Every time a new model was ready, they would descend the steep stairs to deafening cheers and admiration. Finally, everyone was dressed, done up and ready to go. The full girl gang was assembled! We were ready. The whole day had been leading up to this shoot, but we had to be out of the studio in a little over an hour. Our gang was surrounding Kelly and I was rapid fire directing them, “Ivy stand here. Essie come over on this side, oh shit you have the shark knife, okay, stay there. Victoria over on this side, Jessica kneel down by Kelly. Rodina, you’re at the top with the spiked bat…” I went back to my spot by the lights to look at it in frame.

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Okay, deep breath, steady hands, lift the camera, look at your scene…

My breath caught. It was too much. For a moment, I couldn’t handle the scene before me. It was exactly what I imagined all those months ago, when I first sent that email “My absolute DREAM would be…” I felt my chest swell and half jokingly told them I needed a moment. Kelly Sue, the gravitational pull at the center of our orbit sat holding the sledgehammer in one hand and the spiked bat in the other. As I looked away she announced

“I’ve called you all here to dismantle the Patriarchy.”

And that’s all I needed. I took a deep breath and lifted my camera again. It’s not every day you get to shoot Kelly Sue and her girl gang, and if there is anything I’ve learned from being around these women that day, it’s that you don’t flinch around a gang of badass women.

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Girl gangs assaulting and killing for kicks!

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Girl Gang <3

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This was the first time we got to work with Alexa, but it felt like we had always known her.

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Going in for the kill.

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A photo of a photo of a photographer capturing a photographer photographing.

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Our wonderful crew from left to right: Dinah, Kit, Essie, Rodina, Alexa, Victoria, Ivy, Christal, Kelly, Jessica, and Dawn. Not pictured: Jazzlyn and Stephen

The behind the scenes photos I’ve included in this blog post were shot by Stephen Klise. Because all of our team was amazing (and because I love Instagram) I’m going to include their handles here. If you haven’t seen the Bitch Planet look book, check out the final product here. If you would like to discuss your own girl gang or send me some sweet gifs I can be reached at  jazzlyn@bombsheller.com.

Over and Out,
Jazzlyn

What Does It Mean To Be a Badass?

We have always felt strongly about having a “badass” company and calling our leggings “badass.” Early on it was clear that there were many interpretations about this word and what having a “badass” company meant, but I started thinking about it again when I saw this sign across the street.

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There is the obvious stereotype of a badass: a guy with a motorcycle and a leather jacket who causes mayhem and doesn’t give a shit. I saw Deadpool and I liked it, but I think badass has transcended this narrow definition of a man with a bad attitude who can kill people without compunction. Besides, Toni Morrison said that “definitions belong to the definers” and Nicki Minaj said, “I am not a word/ I am not a line/ I am not a girl that can ever be defined” so let’s consider some more nuances of the word badass.

When I asked our team about the word, here are some of the phrases they came up with:

  • authenticity
  • not trying to be cool
  • the opposite of douchebag
  • doing what other people are afraid to do
  • living by your own values
  • setting your own terms

We also recognized that doing those things can cause disapproval, which casts the person living by their own rules as an outlaw. But “living by your own rules” is pretty close to “aligning your life with your values,” which is advocated by every self-help book ever written and Oprah herself. Could integrity be a central element of being a badass?

In her book Rising Strong, Brené Brown says we live in a world with a “badassery deficit” and gives her own definition of the word: “People who wade into discomfort and vulnerability and tell the truth about their stories are the real badasses.” We’re back at authenticity and integrity. It’s hard to imagine a tough guy being vulnerable, but isn’t David the badass for standing up to Goliath? It’s not badass to pick on little guys; it is badass to make yourself vulnerable in a risky situation. This is the kind of badass that means wearing a bikini to a beach for the first time in five years, or starting a company with a business model that’s never been tried before.

This makes room for a whole new league of badasses beyond the likes of Deadpool and any character played by Jason Statham. The new badasses are people like Sophia Amoruso, who started the company Nasty Gal from nothing; like Jessamyn Stanley, who practices yoga in a culture that believes fat people can’t do anything; like Beyoncé for bringing a #blacklivesmatter message to the Super Bowl. You can take on risk without a motorcycle. Just trust your gut and do what you know needs to be done. That’s something we can all aspire to.

Badass Influencers

We love seeing awesome people wear our stuff. The everyday badasses rocking #BitchPlanet leggings at work for a subtle “fuck you” to the patriarchy, or playing out an epic battle of #UnicornVsDragon mid-air — these people inspire us. Some people choose to go above and beyond in the inspiration department and dedicate their entire social media existence to sharing cool stuff, doing cool stuff, and just being cool. These badasses we enlist as affiliates: people we can trust to tell the story of Bombsheller and showcase the best features of our leggings. Last year we had some outstanding performers. Aspiring affiliates, take notes!

Top bloggers: Broke & Beautiful, Geeky Glamorous

Takeaway: Give your followers the full story.

How did these two fashionistas make the top of the list? Lindsay of Broke & Beautiful and Mandie of Geeky Glamorous did full reviews (click their names to read them!). Linsday’s gave the full history of her previous stance on leggings vs. pants and how she came to love the spandex side. She shared her shopping experience and gave readers a complete understanding of the product and the company. Mandie’s is in a similar vein with a greater focus on geeky designs and opportunities for artists to get credited and paid for their work. Both posted lots of photos showing the leggings in a whole outfit that fits with their personal style.

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Top coaches: Andrea Vittegleo, Tyler Wall

Takeaway: You can be just as influential IRL as online.

You may have never heard of these humble heroes from Seattle, but to their clients their word is king. Andrea coaches CrossFit at Foundation CrossFit and Tyler teaches functional movement at Tangelo Health. I can personally attest to Tyler’s patience and sincerity from my time as a patient at Tangelo, so I am not surprised that so many people have taken his Bombsheller recommendation. Dude knows his shit. Andrea, with years of gymnastics under her belt and quads like what, has a skill level and expertise that inspires trust in her students. So when they ask her where to go shopping because their skinny jeans don’t fit anymore, it’s because they know she has the right answer.

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Up-and-coming brands: Lift Big Eat Big (weightlifting), Wandering Westie (dance)

Takeaway: Unique perspective is valuable, so do that thing you don’t see anyone else doing.

When we talk about looking for “movers and shakers” to rep the brand, we mean that literally. Brandon Morrison of LBEB moves weights we can’t even comprehend, and Dan Yamamoto of Wandering Westie shakes out on the the dance floor every day. Both badasses have gained a following by working hard to bring fresh ideas to their communities and fully committing themselves to their craft. If you haven’t watched one of Brandon’s cooking videos, do it now. Dan doesn’t usually showcase himself in Wandering Westie promos, but he knows which dancers to pull for the biggest impact and which photographer can capture the magic. Plus, he always polls his dance community before coming out with a new product. Smart.

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There you have it, the top performers of 2015! Feeling inspired and think you have what it takes to be a badass affiliate? Email badass@bombsheller.com and tell us what makes you awesome. We can’t wait to see what you’ll make in 2016.

Stick To Your Guns

You haven’t heard from us yet this year because we’re not posting any New Year resolutions. That doesn’t mean we’re not doing anything new. We just do new stuff so often that it’s a principle, a guiding value for the choices we make every day. We don’t need a holiday to declare new goals, though it makes sense for those who need more of a nudge, or as an excuse to celebrate — and we love excuses to celebrate. Instead, we’ll take this opportunity to let you know we’re sticking to our guns. Here are some of the values we’ve already established that we plan to take seriously again in 2016.

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The only person who can validate you is you. Self-worth cannot be derived from marketing campaigns or TV shows or new shoes. Maybe your own family doesn’t understand you. It’s ok. Not everyone will understand you. As long as you know who you are and live your life the way that makes sense to you, that’s all that matters. That’s how we live.

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Nothing new ever happens when you follow the directions. Growth will not happen in your comfort zone. We prefer to lean into the future and find out what we can do there.

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It’s been said that fashion is about dressing according to what’s fashionable, while style is about being yourself. If that’s the case, we are ALL about style. Besides, fashion “rules” change so fast they’re hardly worth paying attention to. Fashion is like the croquet game in Alice in Wonderland. Be Alice. Refuse to take orders from worthless cards.

Last but possibly most important…

Never half-ass anything. Whatever you do, use your whole ass. 

Hope to see your whole ass in 2016 — we’re sure as hell bringing ours!