Dance is one of the first forms of escape we learn. It is used as a means of expression and release by our people, and dancing songs bred in the dancehall are the fuel. It is important and needed so dancing cyaan stall.
Just as music is to dancing, partying is to Jamaican culture. My clearest memory of dancing started with Mr. Wacky and Elephant Man. In the 2000’s we did all kinds of dances: Willie Bounce, Signal Di Plane, and Crazy Hype at every party, and that’s just to name a few. The DJ used our energetic responses to dance songs as fuel to add more to the playlist. In Jamaica, you could call it a rite of passage for the youth to learn to dance to these songs. Since its inception, Genna Bounce has swept into school celebrations, kids are having Fling dance offs, mixing it in different styles and adding their own twist to it. If you’re wondering about the people that have no rhythm or “can’t dance”, no one judges children; here you begin to get a taste of expressing yourself. It has been 13 years since Bogle a.k.a. Mr. Wacky passed away but dancing cyaan stall.
Before I go any further let me clarify something, most songs in dancehall are unofficially placed into categories. There are wining or daggering songs, also known as “gyal chune”, there are gun chune or badman songs and there are dancing songs, amongst others. In most cases the dances done in the space are curated by dancers and then the accompanying song is made by an existing dancehall artist. The category of songs would be the deciding factor for the DJ to know what songs would be appropriate for a specific occasion. For example, he would limit the daggering songs at a child’s birthday party.
Since Mr. Wacky, there have been numerous dancers and dance songs to bless the dancehall scene. Performing groups and artistes such as Voicemail, Bling Dawg, Chi Ching Ching, RDX and Ding Dong and the Ravers Clavers ensured the people continued having a good time. With songs and the respective dances like Bad Man Forward, Skip To My Lou, Holiday, Dancers Anthem, Sweep, Nuh Linga, Gully Creep, Kreech, Get There, Wul Up, Watchi Wiya, Shampoo, Syvah, Aji Bounce and LOL, the energy and vibes that came with them swept the dancehall scene and ensured the dancing cyaan stall.
Today, Chi Ching Ching and Ding Dong and the Ravers Clavers dance crew have taken over the dance scene. The dances and the music are so impactful. A viral video from earlier this year showed an MC performing gospel songs before switching over to sing “Fling” over a revival instrumental at a nine night.
Just when people stopped dancing in parties and started posing and taking videos for snapchat, Ding Dong came in like a knight on a shiny yeng yeng and saved dancehall’s dance scene. With combined hits from Ding Dong and his Ravers camp like “Gas,” “Way Up,” “Lowe Mi Nuh,” “Fling,” “Yeng Yeng,” “Lebeh Lebeh,” “Genna Bounce,” “Flairy,” as well as songs from Chi Ching Ching like “Rope,” “Rock The World,” “Breadfruit” and “Roast or Fry,” the party and dance scene has been refreshingly entertaining; inspiring even. Kool Ravers received a Prime Minister’s Youth Award of Excellence in Arts and Culture in 2017 for his contribution to society; he created the dance Fling, that lead to so many people from different generations dancing along to the track.
Dance is a form of expression, and in expressing oneself comes happiness, which is something we appreciate in celebrating. It is an exercise of pure bliss with a touch of appreciation. The feeling you get is just as if you performed and got a strong round of applause. Dr. L’Antoinette Stines, Creative Director of L’ACADCO, says “dance is spirit, mind, then body”. I agree, for you to enjoy dancing and for persons watching you dance to enjoy it, you have to feel it in your core, the depth of your soul. You don’t have to be technically sound to be a dancer, but you must feel it within you.
Dance has an immeasurably level of good impact on people. It creates things to do, and encourages something Jamaicans love, standing out, especially by expressing ourselves. Not everybody is a dancer, but everybody can dance. Next time the riddim hits you, I urge you to let it elevate your spirit and enjoy yourself because dancing cyaan stall.
Rashida Grant is a Jamaican-born writer, currently residing on the island. She's a Journalism student at university, and a lifestyle blogger on her three year old site, 876Lover. On her blog she brings a piece of Jamaica to the world, through event reviews, music reviews, and other literary pieces.