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IN THE JAMAICAN DANCEHALL – CHAPTER 3

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IN THE JAMAICAN DANCEHALL – MALE DANCERS TAKING OVER THE VIDEO LIGHT?

            If this is the case, why? If you noticed, nowadays in the Dancehall, the male dancers are in the middle of the dance while the females are behind the scenes. In many instances, yes, that is the case but it also depends on the event, the location and the types of patrons.

            Dancehall, in general, is predominantly male-oriented. It is, therefore, no surprise at all that from the traditional Dancehall Queen days that men, with their egos, will try to take over the spotlight. But a lot has changed in recent years. With worldwide acceptance slowly taking place, even homosexuals, both male and female, have been showing out more than ever before due to their heightened sense of confidence, with a lot fewer setbacks and said acceptance in today’s society, even for the usually homophobic country of Jamaica.

            Over the years, however, Dancehall has evolved to allow male dancers to showcase their talents since the phase of dancing songs began in the late 90s with innovative creators like the late, great Bogle changing the game completely. This opened the floodgates for other male dancers like the also late, great Ice and others carrying on their legacies like Colo Colo, Boysie and the now internationally acclaimed, Ding Dong.

            Dance crews have also become an integral part of the Dancehall culture with almost all consisting of males, and a few all girls or mixed groups. Ravers Clavers is probably the biggest, not only in popularity but also in membership, with only one female member in Desha Ravers, daughter of international Dancehall artist, Beenie Man.

            The all-female dance groups usually play the roles of promo girls for corporate sponsors and entertainers. The most popular being Romeich Entertainment, Boom Energy Drink, Team Razor B and Team Spice Girls. Once either of these women are in a party, they tend to hype up the crowd as they take the middle and the video light to entertain the patrons as much as possible with their raunchy, sexually charged dance moves. The proof being in the fact that most who are present have their cellphones out and posting videos all over social media.

            Then, there are other parties where the females stay behind the scenes while the male dance groups do exactly what their female counterparts do – they entertain.

            So, basically, it all depends on the event, who is present, the type of patrons attending and the whole vibe of the event. It doesn’t necessarily mean that the males are taking away from the females, because, in essence, they have always been the dominant ones, with the girls trying to take over and claim their spot in the video light.

            It isn’t fair to the women, as they have to work twice as hard as the men, especially with all the stigma attached to dancing in such provocative ways and the negative opinions they often endure. Although, on the other hand, the stereotypical notion that all male dancers must be gay since they all wear skin-tight pants and bleach their skins, is also an unfair generalization. One must take into consideration, however, that you can’t please everyone as this statement holds true in such a scenario.

            In today’s extremely judgmental society, no one is exempt from negative remarks. It is all a matter of opinion and no one should knock another person’s thoughts. However, rather than focusing on all that we feel is bad, why not focus on the positive facts. Most of these men would rather dance and showcase their talents rather than taking up crime and violence. Many have gone overseas, teaching Dancehall classes to hundreds of non-Jamaican students and have helped to promote our Dancehall culture in a positive way. As a nation, we need to come together to showcase that and highlight all the good in Dancehall instead of tearing each other down.

            On the other spectrum, many female dancers, both Jamaican and internationals, have made a very good living from Dancehall. Utilizing choreography of many high-end music videos and stage performances to teaching and winning competitions worldwide. The ever-popular Dancehall Queen competition held annually in Montego Bay each year has gained international notoriety as they now host several competitions in other countries with all winners competing in the finals in Jamaica for the crown of International Dancehall Queen, a valuable title of our culture.

            Hence, both sides have their fair share of ups and downs. It is just a matter of who stands out the most at a particular moment, at any given time. Many do not appreciate what most of these male dancers do but it is understandable, especially if one was expecting to see more females dancing at any specific event. It is better though, for us to come together as a nation and build each other up, rather than focus on minute issues as who is taking the video light for themselves. It’s all in the name of entertainment. Like Vybz Kartel says, “Dancehall a we everything”, so let us treat it as such.

            Weigh in your thoughts.

Written by: Ms. Lesley Hayles

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