Dance Hall Queen In Jamaica, by Tracie Blake
"She’s the dancehall queen for life, gonna explode like dynamite; And she’s moving out of sight, she ago mash up di place like dynamite.".
These famous words became the soundtrack of the 1997 local-made movie, Dancehall Queen (sung by Bennie Man and Chevelle Franklin) and is perhaps the timely injection the expression needed to propel it to new heights.
For many in Jamaica, there is nothing more enjoyable at the end of a long week of work than attending a dancehall session. And, for a lady to be crowned "Queen of the Dance Hall" is a huge achievement.
A Dancehall Queen is a woman who epitomizes the vibes, the rhythm, and the style of the Jamaican Dance Hall scene.
This individual dance rivalry among young women quickly blossomed into a promoted competition.
The first dancehall queen to gain mainstream fame was Carlene Smith. In 1991, Carlene Smith organized and won a fashion competition at Cactus Nightclub in Portmore, St. Catherine Jamaica. She was and is still admired as "The First Dance Hall Queen in Jamaica".
She then took to the streets promoting and highlighting not only the uniqueness of this competition but of how much it helps with self esteem and allows female lovers of the dancehall to express themselves through dance.
First Foreign Winner
So the Dance Hall Queen phenomenon started!
Brian "Big Head" Martin started what is now the exciting International Dancehall Competition back in 1996. It has grown into a worldwide annual affair, drawing thousands to Montego Bay every year and sparking Dancehall Queen competitions all around the world, from Tokyo to Toronto and of course, right here in the Caribbean.
There is gyrating, head-top dancing and facial expressions beyond normal comprehension.
It attracts dancers who were hoping for the opportunity to showcase their talent and to create a door to the entertainment industry. What started as a small competition in the country’s inner city communities, quickly ballooned into formal annual event.
The support was astounding! It became so widespread that women from foreign countries took part in the competition, all vying for the title of The International DanceHall Queen.
In 2002, the audience in Montego Bay were surprised by a Japanese, Junko Kudo, who won the competition and became the first non-Jamaican to win this competition.
Eighteen (18) years later, Dance Hall Queen in Jamaica is stronger than ever and shows no signs of slowing down!
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