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DanceHall

From Slave Ship to Ghetto

Sonjah Stanley Niaah

Publication Year: 2010

DanceHall combines cultural geography, performance studies and cultural studies to examine performance culture across the Black Atlantic. Taking Jamaican dancehall music as its prime example, DanceHall reveals a complex web of cultural practices, politics, rituals, philosophies, and survival strategies that link Caribbean, African and African diasporic performance.

Combining the rhythms of reggae, digital sounds and rapid-fire DJ lyrics, dancehall music was popularized in Jamaica during the later part of the last century by artists such as Shabba Ranks, Shaggy, Beenie Man and Buju Banton. Even as its popularity grows around the world, a detailed understanding of dancehall performance space, lifestyle and meanings is missing. Author Sonjah Stanley Niaah relates how dancehall emerged from the marginalized youth culture of Kingston’s ghettos and how it remains inextricably linked to the ghetto, giving its performance culture and spaces a distinct identity. She reveals how dancehall’s migratory networks, embodied practice, institutional frameworks, and ritual practices link it to other musical styles, such as American blues, South African kwaito, and Latin American reggaetòn. She shows that dancehall is part of a legacy that reaches from the dance shrubs of West Indian plantations and the early negro churches, to the taxi-dance halls of Chicago and the ballrooms of Manhattan. Indeed, DanceHall stretches across the whole of the Black Atlantic’s geography and history to produce its detailed portrait of dancehall in its local, regional, and transnational performance spaces.

Published by: University of Ottawa Press

Cover

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pp. i-ii

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. iii-vi

Contents

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pp. vii-ix

List of Illustrations

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p. x-x

List of Tables

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p. xi-xi

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Acknowledgements

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pp. xii-xiv

In 1999, when Bibi Bakare Yusuf, my first friend from the African continent, asked me the question, “Who is looking at the ecology of dancehall?” it reverberated with something familiar to the core of my being, such that the obvious answer—“No one” —was immediately confirmed. Then, when Aggrey Brown introduced me to Blues People ...

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Preface

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pp. xv-xix

Growing up in the 1970s, I was surrounded by what I later understood to be the intense unfolding of Jamaica’s popular music and dance per-formance, in particular, the evolution of dancehall music. Songs such as Tappa Zukie’s “Rocksteady,” whose lines my mother had to correct when we sang “every time dem panty go” instead of “every time dem ...

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Out of Many...One Dancehall

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pp. 1-28

DanceHall is synonymous with Jamaica. Its very identity is reflective of Jamaica’s motto, “Out of many, one people,” unifying yet divisive and exclusionary. Who are these “many” and, by logical deduction, what is this “one”? The famous maxim is that 99 percent of the Jamai-can population is of African descent (although in fact, according to the ...

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Introducing Performance Geography

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pp. 29-52

Th is chapter summarizes research on the microspatialities of Kingston’s dancehall performance. While it is generally acknowledged that the term “dancehall” derives from the space, hall or lawn in which dance events occur, little attention has been paid to the spatial nuance implied in the name. While early venues have been acknowledged (see ...

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Performing Geography in Kingston's Dancehall Spaces

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pp. 53-87

One significant characteristic of the humanities and of interdisciplinary enterprises such as cultural studies is the need for thinking through a critical tradition that gives voice to absences around spirituality—the oneiric, metaphysical and esoteric—that occupies ...

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Ritual Space, Celebratory Space

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pp. 86-117

One significant characteristic of the humanities and of interdisciplinary enterprises such as cultural studies is the need for thinking through a critical tradition that gives voice to absences around spirituality—the oneiric, metaphysical and esoteric—that occupies ...

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Geographies of Embodiment-Dance, Status, Style

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pp. 118-148

Kid Harold, Baskin, Pam Pam, Persian the Cat, Labba Labba, Bogle, Carlene, Stacey, Keiva, Craigy Dread, Mad Michelle, Sample Six, Ravers Clavers, Ice, Colo Colo, Shelly Belly and Black Blingers have all made indelible marks on the repertoire and performance style of popular dance in Jamaica, from the dance events at Marcus Garvey’s Edelweiss ...

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Performing Boundarylessness

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pp. 149-175

Th is chapter discusses the celebratory ethos of dancehall performance and the way in which it signals an inherent relationship to boundaries. Whether it is the rockaway dance in a music video by Usher, the sampling of a tune by Sean Paul in one of Verizon’s advertisement campaigns, the phenomenon of the Japanese dancehall queen, the ...

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A Common Transitional Space

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pp. 176-195

In recent years cultural studies and related disciplines have increasingly aimed to take account of the global, the transnational or the international, especially in relation to the African Diaspora and other diasporas (see Clifford 2005). Often the transnational and the diasporic are treated as inextricably interlocked spheres of symbolic. ...

References

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pp. 196-210

INDEX

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pp. 211-238


E-ISBN-13: 9780776619057
E-ISBN-10: 0776619055
Print-ISBN-13: 9780776607368
Print-ISBN-10: 0776607367

Page Count: 260
Publication Year: 2010

Series Title: African and Diasporic Cultural Studies