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CULTURE OF DESPERATION IN THE DANCEHALL Featured

Entertainment News Written by  Claude Mills Sunday, 06 February 2011 03:23 font size decrease font size increase font size 0
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TWO O'CLOCK Sunday morning. A nameless venue in the heart of St. Andrew. Patrons sway their bodies and 'bubble' as a polyglot dancehall rhythm pounds from huge speakers. A cameraman squeezes through the thickening crowd, a lance of bright light from the camera perched on his shoulder cuts the darkness like a white sword.

The light from his camera splashes the trash-glam outfits of the patrons packed into the venue. When the 'video light' draws nigh, some men freeze in a well-practised GQ pose designed to show the maximum amount of 'bling' ­ that is jewellery flashing, and one loafered foot perched on an expensive case of champagne. Other thin, well-dressed young men, dance in packs to the pounding beat, bucking their hips and jigging their bodies, some even threatening to usurp the women with their co-ordinated dance moves.

ImageHowever, it is still the women who are the queens of the dancehall, providing drama and comedy and sexual gratification with their bravado and swag. Some opt to pat their pubic areas, or 'flash' the eager cameraman. One girl with multiple body piercings walks straight up to the cameraman and declares: 'It's all about me, my man checks for me, im love me 'cause mi body good!'.

Theatrical? Maybe.

Naughty? More than a little.

Self-destructive? Possibly.

How about all of the above?

Definitely.

ImageThink 'hottie hottie' and images of a young woman attracted to the seamier side of dressing jumps most readily to mind. However, there are layers to your typical pubic-area-patting, two-cellphone-wearing, empty-boasting, man-stealing-loud-mouthed 'hottie hottie'.

The layers are volcanic rock deep.

"We are not skettels, we are just women who like to show off our bodies. Some do it for fun, some do it to attract men and get a smalls (money), and others just do it to flop ah next gal; there are many things behind it, you can't just lump us into one box, we are many things," Gracie Flavour told Flair, last week.

Despite stories to the contrary, the dancehall is not a fun paradise of peace and plenty despite the lust for all things bling and glitz-meets-ghetto sensibilities. Beneath the glitter, it is often a cruel marketplace where men and girls display and trade their assets for money.

It is economics at its most brutal, and primitive.

"It's rough out there in the dancehall. Nuff girls go there for fun but dem still a hustle and a hope fi meet a hot man who can give dem something, but it sticky out there. Ah girl haffi look good, and if she not hot, she affi bleach and go all out, x-rated clothes, loud ting and all just to get attention," Dancehall Queen Stacie said.

"And more time, it's the same old men every year in the dancehall. Some girls deh wid man who no rate dem, and a girl can end up getting passed around by all these men, until she drop off the scene, and new girls come in to try their luck," Stacie explained.

Psychologist Dr. Leahcim Semaj has his own take on the dancehall.

"The goings-on in the dancehall represent a primitive mating ritual where women seek to attract the attention of men but also to prove that they are hotter than other females who are in the dance," Dr. Semaj said.

"When you look at it from a psycho-socio-biological point of view, it is an advertising campaign where women advertise their ability to perform in bed, a sneak preview if you will, of what a man might expect in bed. Women in the dancehall use the promise of sex, and their bodies to get what they want," he added.

CULTURE OF DESPERATION

The dilemma is that there is a small window of opportunity (between late teens and early 30s) during which women can trade their bodies, and convert their assets to gain material wealth or physical assets, Dr. Semaj said.

The mean rules of engagement in this 'human marketplace', as Dr. Semaj calls it, helps to create a culture of desperation where the stakes are increasingly high.

The aggressive dancehall culture sometimes feeds into the rivalry between girls who compete for the attention and wealth of the so-called 'top men' who boast large bankrolls, and merely stand back and watch the dramas unfold.

"More time, a girl gets into fights with some of the bona fide woman of the hot man dem. The man dem no easy still, dem always a look the catty on the side. Dem might call her and give her ah 10 or 15 grand what other men not giving her. So it build up her hopes and create nuff friction," Stacie said.

When a skirmish breaks out in the dancehall, it is typically between two women who have a misunderstanding over a man, and leads to a contest of one 'upwomanship' which can get dangerous.

"This is a sad reality, mi see girl all use champagne bottle and lick other girl inna dem face," Stacie says.

Often, the skirmishes begin when one hot-under-the-Versace-blouse 'hottie hottie' douses another with a bottle of champagne or an alcoholic drink. Insiders explain this action as a 'hype dis'.

"When you want to dis a girl, yu wet har up wid yu expensive drinks to show seh yu bigger than her 'cause yu can waste a half-bottle a Moet, and further, the clothes weh she have on, a coulda borrow she borrow dem, so she inna problem same time," one hottie hottie explained.

According to a female sociologist who chose to remain anonymous, women in the dancehall tend to get used a lot and then discarded, which leads to serious self-esteem issues.

"Most men will agree that they're always on the lookout for a serious soul mate. But this doesn't mean that they can't have fun in the process. So if there are women giving themselves away without commitment, men will definitely pounce on the opportunity.

"Inadvertently, when men meet women, they usually categorise them into two categories: the potentially serious relationship kind, or the 'have fun in the process' girl. The outcome of the man's decision will ultimately be based on how a woman behaves around him.

"If she sleeps with him on the first few nights if he throws money at her, he'll definitely throw her in the fun category. But if she can show him that her body is worth a lot more and that he's going to have to commit to a serious relationship before he can taste her, he'll definitely consider her as serious
potential," the sociologist said.

Read 3066 times Last modified on Tuesday, 08 February 2011 21:51

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