If there's one thing we've learned from West Side Story, the ''Beat It'' video, and that reported Britney-Justin club encounter of '02, it's that no one can resist a heated dance-off. The latest candidate in that pantheon: syndicated series Dance 360, a cult phenom since its August debut in 13 cities. (Check out dance360.net for local listings.) Each episode, a couple of hosts pluck six people of varying ethnicities and sartorial dispositions from the audience to feverishly freestyle solo, then mano a mano, to the beat-ific scratchings of DJ K-Sly (who's female! And Korean-American!). Hitting the scene are folks like J-Mitch from Santa Barbara, who masterfully works a magician's wand into his jig, or Chadd (that's right, two ds), a hipster who goes surprisingly far with his ironic use of the robot. But it's the underdogs who give the show its true appeal, among them San Fernando's Paul, boasting that he's ''representin' 818'' perhaps forgetting, as his moves will later suggest, that the 818 is in the Valley and Sandra from Malibu, a baby-faced firecracker breakin' like the junk in her trunk's for sale. Audience applause determines the winner of each dance-off, and the last player standing makes off with an Xbox, some of the sponsors' swag, and the thriftily apropos sum of $360. Not exactly the booty worthy of this shake-down but, really, you can't put a price on honor.