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Walking Tour Inspired by 'The Get Down' Kicks Off in The Bronx

By Eddie Small | April 7, 2017 9:33am
 A longtime Bronxite is launching a walking tour of the borough on April 23 inspired by
A longtime Bronxite is launching a walking tour of the borough on April 23 inspired by "The Get Down."
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SOUTH BRONX — A longtime Bronx resident wants to help folks get down with "The Get Down."

Nilka Martell will lead fans of the Baz Luhrmann's Netflix series on walking tour of places that appear on the show in hope to educate people about the history of the borough, but also how it's changed.

Martell said she watched and enjoyed the first episodes of the show but wants the tour to demonstrate how far the borough has come since the 1970s era that "The Get Down" focuses on.

The series focuses on a group of South Bronx teenagers who play pivotal roles in the invention of hip-hop. The first episodes debuted in August, and the series will return to Netflix on April 7.

"We want to show people some of the places where scenes were filmed," she said, "but then use it as an opportunity to tell people all the exciting things that are going on."

The tour will take place on April 23 from noon to 4:30 p.m. and begin at Saint Mary's Park (450 Saint Ann's Ave.), where some scenes in the show were filmed. It will include stops at P.S. 27 and 149th Street and Grand Concourse as well, and the overall route will be about 3.8 miles, so Martell is encouraging attendees to wear comfortable shoes and clothes.

The tour will also include appearances by graffiti artist Kay Love and hip-hop pioneer Grandmaster Melle Mel, as it is supposed to help people understand that hip-hop is not just a music genre but a way of life, according to Martell.

Bronxites had expressed concerns about "The Get Down" after the project was announced, as they were nervous about how it would portray the borough, but Luhrmann assured residents that the show would go beyond stereotypes of the South Bronx, and the first batch of episodes debuted largely without controversy.

However, Martell said she remained "torn" about the series, maintaining that she viewed it as enjoyable and inspiring to young people while also stressing that it was fictional and could skew the perceptions of some viewers about how hip-hop started.

"Even though it’s based on the birth of hip hop, it's not completely factual," she said. "A lot of people have told me, 'Oh, no, that’s not the way "The Get Down" says that hip hop really started, but that’s one perspective. You can’t negate the pioneers who were really there."

Luhrmann has said that he was mainly interested in creating "The Get Down" to examine how a region facing so many problems could simultaneously give birth to an explosive creative force like hip-hop, and Martell made the same point when talking about her tour.

"Even in that broken period, there was still creativity," she said.

Tickets for the tour are $30 and can be purchased online through Eventbrite.