How to dance jamaican dancehall

Cultural Dance Spotlight – Inspirations Dancewear Canada

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Many popular artists and choreographers talk about being inspired by dancehall, but not many people know what it means beyond that. In this post, we’ll give you a general sense of what dancehall is as a form of dance.

What’s Dancehall?

Dancehall is a type of dance and music that branched off of reggae in 1970s Jamaica. These energetic and upbeat forms of music and dance are very closely tied together. Many dancehall songs are completely dedicated to the moves involved (similar to how songs like the Cha Cha Slide are all about the dance that goes with it).

How Did Dancehall Develop?

Since they weren’t allowed to attend the uptown dances, people from the inner city part of Kingston began creating dance halls in the 1940s where they could have dances of their own. Changes in the socio-political atmosphere of Jamaica in the 1970s saw a shift in the material that local artists included in their music. Musicians began moving away from the internationally-focused roots style of reggae and gave more importance to the local culture. This is when the modern form of dancehall really began to emerge.

What Does Dancehall Look Like?

Dancehall functions as a form of physical and emotional therapy where dancers can release their pent-up frustrations. As such, it can be fun, innocent and energetic, but can also include themes of violence and hypersexuality. Many lyrics are explicit but are spoken in Jamaican patois which is a dialect of English that’s very different from its root language, so english-speakers often have a hard time understanding dancehall music. Below is a creative video where a dancer highlights a different dancehall move for each letter of the alphabet.


How is Dancehall Used in Western Dance?

Dancehall influences are becoming more and more popular in western hip hop. Choreographers like Parris Goebel and Kiel Tutin have really helped to bring dancehall and its influences to the world stage. In the video below, you can see Sorority Dance Crew’s set from the World Hip Hop International Competition where they start off with a dancehall song called Put it Deh by an artist called Ce’Cile.

Musical artists in the west are also influenced by the sounds of dancehall music. Rihanna’s Work saw massive success as did Drake’s Controlla. Major Lazer has a number of songs that are heavily influenced by dancehall like Lean On and Light it Up.

Although it was just the tip of the iceberg, we hope this post helped give you more understanding about the rich history of Dancehall. If you have any questions or comments about dancewear, feel free to contact us and let us know.

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Dancehall is a genre of Jamaican popular music that originated in the late 1970s. Initially dancehall was a more sparse version of reggae than the roots style, which had dominated much of the 1970s. Two of the biggest stars of the early dancehall era were Yellowman and Eek-a-Mouse. Dancehall brought a new generation of producers, including Linval Thompson, Gussie Clarke and Jah Thomas.In the mid-1980s, digital instrumentation became more prevalent, changing the sound considerably, with digital dancehall (or "ragga") becoming increasingly characterized by faster rhythms. (The word "bashment", a term originating in the 1990s, was used to describe a particularly good dance; for example "to go to a bashment dance". In the Dancehall vernacular, "bashment" is therefore an adjective instead of a noun.)

In the early 1990s songs by Shabba Ranks, Patra and Chaka Demus and Pliers were the first dancehall megahits in the US and abroad. Other varieties of dancehall achieved crossover success outside of Jamaica during the mid-to-late 1990s. After the popularizing of Buju Banton's dancehall song "Boom Bye Bye" in the early 1990s, dancehall music came under criticism over anti-gay lyrics in a few songs. The early 2000s saw the success of newer charting acts such as Rihanna, Elephant Man and Sean Paul. Dancehall made a resurgence within the pop market in the late 2000s, with songs by Konshens, Mr. Vegas, Popcaan, Mavado, Vybz Kartel, Beenie Man among others.


Dancehall is named after Jamaican dance halls in which popular Jamaican recordings were played by local sound systems. They began in the late 1940s among people from the inner city of Kingston such as Trench Town, Rose Town and Denham Town, Jamaicans who were not able to participate in dances uptown. Social and political changes in late-1970s Jamaica, including the change from the socialist government of Michael Manley (People's National Party) to Edward Seaga (Jamaica Labour Party), were reflected in the shift away from the more internationally oriented roots reggae towards a style geared more towards local consumption and in tune with the music that Jamaicans had experienced when sound systems performed live. Themes of social injustice, repatriation and the Rastafari movement were overtaken by lyrics about dancing, violence and sexuality

Dance Culture

The popularity of dancehall has spawned dance moves that help to make parties and stage performances more energetic.The dancehall, as a dance, concentrates above all on the moves. You may be surprised but apart from shaking your behind there are far more dance moves (so far we have gathered over 800 dance moves and we are still looking for more). It is in Jamaica where such a unique connection of dance and music is found. There are songs about just one dance move, on the other hand you have songs in which you can hear several dance moves. The main problem is to correctly understand the lyrics - Jamaicans use Patois - their own slang which is distant from their official language (English). Dancehall is all about attitude and energy - we may even say these two things are far more important than knowledge and technical skills. Dancehall dance moves are created mainly spontaneously during street parties.

Dancehall: Hello from Jamaica! | Useful articles and tips from the 🕺dance studio - Under Stand (Anderstend)💃 in Voronezh.

Dancehall and dancehall music originated in the 1970s when traditional Jamaican reggae began to merge with the fast beats of electronic music. The direction originated on the outskirts of the Jamaican capital of Kingston, among street dancers who, due to social reasons, could not get to dance competitions in the city center.

By the middle of the 80s, rastaman notes had completely sunk into oblivion. The dance became even more lively, dynamic, hot. In the early 2000s, dancehall began to spread rapidly throughout the world.


Dancehall combines elements of dozens, if not hundreds of social dances that flared up like hotbeds in different parts of Jamaica and then faded away, giving the best elements to more mass trends. Dancehall made its first steps in small clubs, where dancers after hard working days tried to improvise to Jamaican rhythms. Today, the dance is traditionally performed to the recitative that accompanies the sound of electronic musical instruments.

It is incredibly difficult to describe the technical side of dance: it is easier to see once than to read hundreds of textbooks a hundred times. In appearance, it resembles a mixture of jazz and hip-hop, which is complemented by the plasticity characteristic of dark-skinned dancers. These are jerky movements, and shaking, and legs wide apart.

There is still debate about whether dancehall can be considered a legacy of reggae. Many artists speak out against this vulgar dance, which is far removed from the gentle movements of Jamaican ethnic styles. Jamaican poet and rapper Mutabaruka put it this way: “Where reggae was red, green and gold in the early 1970s, a few years later it was replaced by dancehall gold chains.”


The controversy continues, but dancehall is growing steadily, gaining the interest of pop stars: Selena Gomez, Jennifer Lopez, Rihanna and other artists are increasingly using dancehall in their work. But first of all, the dancehall gathers under its banner and makes it known to the whole world:

YellowMan, Bogle, Barrington Levy, who are considered "watchmen", in the 90s-2000s: Vybz Kartel, Elephant Man, Beenie Man, and Jiff di Bossman is a well-known contemporary figure.

We note separately that the Jamaican dancer Bogle (aka King of Dancehall) is one of the popularizers of dance at the dawn of its history. He came up with the movements that now form the basis of the dancehall: Willie Bounce, seasam street, Bogle dance, world dance, row di boat, out and bad and others.

Dancehall in Russia

Dancehall with its dynamics, southern passion and youthful vigor has taken root even in the Russian frost. Dance appeared with us in the mid-2000s and quickly spread to all underground clubs. Five years ago, highly specialized festivals DANCEHALL QUEEN RUSSIAN CONTEST began to be held in the capital, although earlier the dance was presented only at general reggae competitions. Since 2011, the Krasnodar Territory hosts the BIG UP KEMP camp, which is only for dancehall dancers, the founder of which is Jiff Dee Bossman, a dancer born in Haiti, the founder of the world's first BIG UP KEMP dancehall camp and the world dancehall championship.

This dance is certainly controversial and complex both from a philosophical and technical point of view. But the more interesting it is to get to know him. The creator of BIG UP KEMP dancer Jiff Bossman defines dancehall as follows: “It is freedom, unity and love. It is such a feeling when you not only dance, but also listen to music. And when you dance with your friends, you feel it: we are one and we have a real love for dancing.”


More articles:

Incendiary dance from Jamaica: all about Dance Hall


Dancehall is a Caribbean street dance that is growing in popularity every year. Despite the fact that he appeared in Russia relatively recently, he has enough fans who have appreciated the emotional and expressive choreography that has absorbed the culture of Jamaica.

Dancehall: a history of dance

Jamaica is considered to be the birthplace of Dancehall. It was in its capital, Kingston, that the direction was born in the 80s, which absorbed the rhythm of the incendiary reggae, the founder of which was the famous musician, vocalist and performer Bob Marley.

It is generally accepted that social inequality played an important role in the emergence of dance. At that time, both poor immigrants from Africa and more prosperous emigrants from Europe lived in Jamaica. And for the African people, the dancehall has become a symbol of unity in a foreign territory, an opportunity to exchange emotions and impressions.

Structure and elements of dance

Sometimes dancehall is mistakenly called reggae, not suspecting that this is a completely different dance. It is more rhythmic and dynamic, and attitude is of great importance - its character and presentation.

The basis of the style is basic steps with body movements, which are complemented by smooth movements and sharp beats. In most cases, staging is an improvisation on a specific composition or track.

Features of the dance

The dancehall style is not just a choreography of connections and elements united by one concept and idea. This is an opportunity to demonstrate your freedom by moving to the beat of the music.

To master this direction, it is not enough to be a good dancer, feel the rhythm and be able to improvise. Only by being liberated on the dance floor you can show a real dancehall - a unique dance style of freedom-loving and open-minded people.

What is the best way to dance

Any comfortable clothes and shoes are suitable for dancehall. There are no strict restrictions, imposed stereotypes and prohibitions. But when it comes to a concert performance, dancers usually use to create an image:

  • wide tops;
  • bright shorts;
  • t-shirts;
  • tight leggings or pants;
  • loose fit shirts;
  • T-shirts
  • headwear and flashy accessories.

For group dance classes and performances, a single color scheme is selected and a common concept of images is thought out for each participant.

Who should try

Dancehall can be played by both girls and boys of any build, regardless of the level of physical fitness. A prerequisite is the absence of medical contraindications, which is an invariable requirement for sports.

The direction of Dancehall is ideal if you need:

  • learn how to move beautifully to the music;
  • increase daily calorie consumption, which is important for a sedentary lifestyle;
  • get positive emotions and a charge of motivation;
  • increase muscle tone.

If you want to get acquainted with this direction, try dancehall dancing and understand what it is, you should sign up for the Premier Sport club.

We are located at: st. Olof Palme, 5 (SWAD of Moscow, near the metro station Minskaya, Lomonosovsky Prospekt, University, Sportivnaya, Victory Park).

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