‘Worldwide people love our dancing because we create or our things, we don’t follow style, we create style’, says DJ/singer Sacha in the dance-u-mentary It’s All About Dancing.
If you’ve ever attended a dancehall rave and are one of those people that know all the latest moves from Jamaica as soon as they’re created then you’ll know that the above statement is true and that you can burn more energy doing these lively routines then going to the gym.
Motivated by animals, nature, natural disasters, sex, cartoons and just about anything Jamaican people and dancers like the late great Bogle, John Hype and Ding Dong have come up with everything from Air Force One, Bogle to the Wacky Dip revolutionizing the industry with these funny, raw, entertaining and sometimes explicit moves. The dance moves tend to change as quickly as your dirty underwear and they are generally done the way that they sound or the instructions are in the song lyrics. Some dances can be performed by both sexes others just women. The ladies only routines are usually very erotic and consist of sexually charged movements that sometimes require a lot of flexibility and the dancehall DJs usually provoke their audiences to move their bodies.
In recent years the likes of Sean Paul and Elephant Man have had major commercial success portraying these elaborate dance moves like Willie Bounce, Rockaway and the Tunda Clap in their music videos propelling these dance styles internationally enabling them to grow in popularity and US artists like Usher, Beyonce and Fat Joe can be seen emulating these moves in their music videos.
Dancehall music may have developed in the 1980s with deejays like Super Cat and Yellowman rapping and singing over fast, danceable rhythms but traditionally Jamaicans have always be associated with having rhythm and historically their dancing can be traced back to enslaved Africans on the islands plantation who tried to retain aspects of their culture and dancing was one of them. However, as they became more influenced by Europeans and other African tribes their dance practices became merged.
Fast forward to today and the presence of these influences can be clearly seen. The most common dancehall move ‘winning’ which focuses on pelvic gyration is a traditional movement in Africa and the attitude, facial expressions, body segmentation and placement of the feet are widespread in East African regions.
Currently Nuh Linga, Tek Weh Yourself and Daggering are the popular dances in Jamaica. Last year the Hot Wuk was the biggest dance. The dance consists of girls assuming the ‘backshot’ position, and sometimes twisting their faces in interesting new shapes as though they are feeling great pain, while at the same time, flashing both their hands in a sideway semaphore of the pain one feels when experiencing something hot. Although this move is tearing up the dance-floor arena it still hasn’t topped the phenomenon of 2006 which was Tony Matterhorn’s song and dance Dutty Whine. Taking the world by storm this dance consists of the rapid swinging of the head and neck and the flapping of the knees in and out. People have even died or been whip lashed whilst performing this wild dance.
During the last decade over 50 moves have been created and dance will always be a part of Jamaican culture and everyday life and as this piece concludes the next hot dance could be being created on the island right now.
Elephant Man, Nuh Linga Mr Vegas, Hot Wuk
Here is a list of some of the dances that have been created in Jamaica over the last 13 years. Check out some of the videos of the dances:
Dutty Wine, Shelly Belly, Hot F*ck, Fly the Kite, Hula Hoop, Fan Dem Off, Water Pumpie, Cool and Deadly, Piano, Beat the Drum, Shake Dem Off, Dela Move, Pelpa, Play the Guitar, Pelpit, Excitement, Step Up Inna Life, Bogle, Mission Impossible, Crazy Hype, The Wave, Hurkle, Rain Drops, Mock the Dread, Heel and Toe, Prang, Tek Off Yu Head, Jerry Springer, Screw the Bulb, World Dance, Pon Di River Pon Di Bank, Give Them A Run, Parachute, Row The Boat, Three Pointer, Pop The Collar, Tattie, Butterfly, Screechie, Rockaway, Fan Down The Bus, Handcraft, Thunder, Lightning, Zagga Zow, Tambourine, Tunda Clap, Signal de Plane, Flowers a Bloom, Sweep, The Lightening Bolt
I’m So Special dance by Movado
How to do the Tek Weh Yourself
How to dance to dancehall
Mr Vegas, Daggering
Elephant Man, Limbo
Voicemail, Let’s Dance
Elephant Man – Sweep
Usain Bolt dances the Lightening Bolt
Words by Annika Allen