Thursday, April 16, 2009

She's A Dancehall Queen For Life

I'm known to be an independent in more than one way, but most especially on the dance floor. I'll dance best believe I'll dance. But I don't want you telling me what to do with my body. So partner dancing where a "man" leads me is not going to happen unless I want it to happen. As a result, I LOVE dancehall. I can do what I want to do with my body and be all glittered up and fake eye lashed out and still be a member of the community and taken seriously! It's a performance that I personally love. When I go to a dancehall, I am in a form of drag, an exaggerated image/representation of what I believe my Caribbean female body can be presented as and I am in control of that image. I control the gaze.

One of my favorite movies EVER is Dancehall Queen. It is one of the first films that I saw that discusses Caribbean women's work. It demonstrates how working class and working poor women and mothers make choices, and it recognizes how dancing is a form of work. It shares how complex and important dancehall is to a community and culture. Plus, the leading female character is strong, has convictions, is complicated, and preservers. When was the last time we saw a Black Caribbean women in such a role?

In any event, I love watching some dancehall videos, especially the ones where women are hired because they can DANCE versus just hop around and throw their asses in the air against a semi-erect or twitching biological male's pelvis. That's why I really appreciated Sean Paul's earlier videos. I love how Sean Paul knows his dance skills are limited (or he chooses not to dance that much) so he 1. hires people who know how to dance, 2. he hires women that look like REAL women and 3. the women can dance. The dancing and the performance are at the center, at least from the lens I use to watch the videos. The women are strong, powerful, and are given space to demonstrate all their strength and abilities. The dance floor becomes a space for sharing creativity and exchanging aspects of power. After all, there are some "battles" in some of the videos on the dance floor.

So, what's dancehall got to do with sexuality? You tell me. I think sex is powerful and strong, just like the women dancing in the video. What do you think?

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