Downtown Skokie studio serves up hip hop
Neil Lariosa (left) and Jairus Roallos, owners of Beats Provoke Movement, opened their new business in October in downtown Skokie. | Jerry Daliege~for Sun-Times Media
BEATS PROVOKE MOVEMENT (BPM)
Where: 5023 Oakton St.
What: Dance Studio and apparel store
Phone: (847) 213-0529
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:53AM
SKOKIE — In disc jockey circles, BPM means “beats per minute,” but a unique new dance studio in downtown Skokie has added another meaning to the abbreviation.
Beats Provoke Movement — or BPM — is the brainchild of Skokie resident Neil Lariosa, who brought in partner Jairus Roallos to create modern hip hop-type dancing opportunities and a complimentary apparel store.
“It took me nine months to name this place,” Lariosa said on the opening night of a new semester of classes. “It didn’t take me nearly that long to name my three kids.”
Lariosa was playing with names that would fit the four things he wanted to fuse in the studio: dance, studio, urban gear and production. The 33-year-old businessman had no prior dance experience — you won’t find him hipping and hopping anywhere near the spacious wooden dance floor facing a long mirror on the eastern half of the studio.
But he was looking for opportunity.
“I thought that it was time to do something I could love,” he says. “I thought about my kids and what they like. Music and dance were a big part of that.”
Lariosa has business and financial experience — he was a retail manager for Gap Inc. and worked at Edens Bank — and he had access to those who could help him launch his idea. He had known Roallos, 35, also a Skokie resident, since high school.
“I was immediately interested and wanted to see if it’s something we could do,” Roallos says. “I thought it was a great concept.”
Roallos has been a disc jockey on the side, both as a hobby and professionally, for years. He works a full-time job as an information technology specialist for public TV.
Despite his busy life, he eagerly added this venture to his dance card.
Beats Provoke Movement opened in October 2012 in downtown Skokie, the latest example of how the village’s downtown rejuvenation efforts are targeting businesses that attract younger people. The studio is only blocks away, for example, from Aw Yeah Comics and Bughouse Studio, which also add a more modern vibe to a downtown that had been dormant for decades.
The BPM studio sits at the heart of downtown on Oakton Street, with its large glass window allowing visitors a peek inside. They might see a dozen or so young adults or children moving in coordination to the kind of music that won’t be blasting from your grandparents’ stereo anytime soon.
Lariosa wanted to be part of the effort to reinvent downtown Skokie. He looked at his venture as an opportunity to bring local people together — both customers and staff, he says.
And some of the more-than-a-dozen instructors are from former Niles Township High School District 219 graduates. That includes dancer Andrew Phan, 25, who led opening night’s adult hip hop class, which drew 20 young adults — and one 12-year-old.
While BPM is off to healthy start, most students have been traveling from the city to get there. The studio is still trying to reach out to locals.
“I was a little thrown off by that,” Lariosa admits. “I guess we haven’t been able to reach people locally enough yet to let them know we’re here.”
But the owners have confidence that will happen. Offering more than a dozen classes to students ranging in age from 4 to their mid 30s, BPM provides ideal opportunity for a fun and healthy creative outlet. Unlike other dance studios, walk-ins are welcomed at any time, for any class or classes. A 15-week semester of classes will run $150, individual classes $12.
Then there’s the other side of the BPM space, an apparel store with T-shirts, bags and other accessories that mesh seamlessly with a hip-hop lifestyle. Some of the instructors, including Phan, have designed their own stylish shirts that sell in the store.
A company named Equilibrium sells stylized “urban survival gear” bags that can serve as messenger bags or backpacks. Most of their sales are online, but they also sell in select shops — Wicker Park being the closest location to BPM.
“We chose this place specifically because we thought it was different and a great fit for us,” said vendor Phalkun Phoeng of Equilibrium. “To have all of this under one roof, to have it all intertwined, just seemed to make sense for us.”
And hopefully for others, too. The dance in downtown Skokie has officially begun.