EDINBURGH was a whirl of arms, legs and head-spins yesterday as the finest female breakdancers in the UK battled it out to take the title of the nation's top B-Girl ... and thankful Honey G was nowhere to be seen.

After hours of backspins, windmills, drops and freezes, 31-year-old Jenn Gauss – aka Ginseng – was crowned the UK’s fiercest B-girl (that's breakdance girl, for those not in the know) in the British heat for the world's top breakdance event.

After seeing off 15 of the highest-level hip-hop dancers in Britain, Gauss will now go through to the International Queen 16 final in Leipzig, Germany in April to battle the rest of the world's best B-girls.

The Queen 16 UK qualifier, which took place at Edinburgh’s Ocean Terminal, was part of the Audacious Women festival, running events across the city this month to encourage women to try something they’ve always wanted to do but never dared.

Organised by the State – a female-run organisation that runs hip hop programmes for young people in Leith – the breakdancing event aimed to take a pop at the more misogynistic elements of hip hop culture and reconnect it with its roots in peace, unity, love...and having fun.

Gauss, who impressed judges with her detailed footwork and creativity, said she was “over-the-moon” to win and get the chance to take part in the forthcoming all-women international competition, originally founded in the States in 2011.

“It’s a pretty massive deal for me,” she added. “It was a tough battle and it felt close to call. I can genuinely say I’ve not had an opportunity like this before. Breakdancing doesn’t come naturally to me and I’ve had to work really hard at it. I hope that shows other women that if they want to, they can do it too.”

Her fellow finalist Emma Houston, 25, from Stirling – aka Shortbread - whose energetic routine was packed full of power moves, claimed that though she was disappointed not to win, taking part was hugely satisfying.

“It’s really important that there are B-girl battles like these,” she said. “It helps the community of women come together, shows us the level we’re at and helps us push that further. It’s physically demanding and needs strength and flexibility but it’s such an empowering style. It’s a great way of connecting with yourself, with the music and the community.”

Organiser Emma Hamilton, a break-dancer for nearly 20 years under the B-girl moniker Emma Ready, said: “The standard here has been very high. We’ve got the best girls from all over the UK. Women are still a minority in breakdancing and though some people don’t think we should have separate women’s competitions it’s a way of giving them an extra boost. This is a brilliant showcase of all that women can do.”

The history of breakdancing goes back to 1970s New York when hip hip DJs like Afrika Bambaataa, DJ Kool Herc and Grandmaster Flash started to offer alternatives to the violent gang culture of the Bronx. DJing, MCing, B’Boying and graffiti came together to create an important culture movement. It took off across the world in the 80s and has continued to reinvent itself ever since.

“The ethos is about peace, unity, love and having fun,” added Hamilton. “Those are the powers of hip hop. Everyone can recognise those values.”

Nancy McAndrew, Scotland’s first B-girl, now 53, has been breakdancing for 33 years, and said women’s breakdancing events like Queen 16 were “what I’ve been striving for.”

Inspired by eighties movies like Breakdance, she started a crew with her brothers and their friends in Kirkcaldy and was initially the only girl on the scene.

“We used to get a bit of lino and go and breakdance down on the promenade or outside empty shops,” she said. “We looked weird as anything.

“The boys tried very hard to exclude you as a girl but I was determined. I wanted to make sure I could do all the hardest moves, like Windmills [where the legs move through the air like a windmill], before them, and I did.

“When I got older I hired out the local hall and we got the kids hanging out on the street corners to come in and learn. It gave them life skills. We didn’t know it at the time but that’s how they used hip hop in the Bronx.

“I just love events like today. Everyone is equal but women have always had to work so much harder to get in so seeing this is great.”

Sally Wainwright, director of the Audacious Women festival, added: “Breakdancing is a traditionally male event, some would say misogynistic, so women getting into that is definitely challenging barriers. And breakdancing itself encourages participants to be themselves, and develop their own style and ideas so it fits perfectly into the idea of what we're trying to do.”