Raah Vibez | April 15, 2022, 12:08 a.m.
If you've never heard of Dancehall, stop and check out my previous post to get all caught up.
...All set? Good!
So by now you know that Dancehall emerged as an art form that provided an escape for its then mostly inner-city supporters. Over the years, Dancehall music has become multi-dimensional, addressing a range of topics from overcoming struggles and achieving success, to living life to the fullest and satisfying one’s sexual desires.
While in the past Dancehall has received immense backlash for its degradation of women, with an ever increasing number of female Dancehall artists and dancers, women are taking up space and refusing to be pushed out (sometimes literally) of this male dominated arena.
To me, what Dancehall has become, is a space where woman can say “F@#k the patriarchy!” and showcase themselves as deserving equals to their male counterparts.
Since my first encounter with Dancehall, I’ve become the most confident and self-assured I’ve ever been and here are three reasons why.
For me, as I'm sure is the case for tons of other women, Dancehall represents freedom of expression.
All my life, society has dictated how women should behave, how women should speak, and how women should react, as if we are just passive objects.
We’ve been taught to be well-mannered, polite, respectful and silent, even when to our detriment.
In Dancehall, however, women have an avenue through which they can express themselves freely.
Through the music, they are able to voice their thoughts and opinions in spite of what others may say, and through the dance, they can showcase their flexibility and agility without consequence.
In general, society tends to focus on the sexual desires of men and by default we, as women, are taught how to cater to them.
Often times in doing so, we are expected to ignore our own sexual desires, always keeping the satisfaction of the man front of mind.
Contrary to this societal norm, Dancehall today encourages women’s sexual liberation.
In the music of artists such as Ishawna and Shenseea, once taboo topics surrounding female pleasure are today voiced and explored, counteracting society’s submissive expectations of women.
Through dance, women can feel confident as they gyrate their hips, wine their waistlines, and exude as much sensuality as they would like without fear of ostracism.
One fundamental feature of Dancehall is that it encourages everyone to ‘come as you are’.
Unlike Western culture, which celebrates and inundates us with a particular physique, Dancehall embraces all body types.
In Dancehall, you'll hear artists and 'selectas' (DJs) shouting out all shapes and sizes of women from 'slimmaz' (skinny) to 'Fluffy' (heavy-set).
Regardless of your body type, the lyrical content of songs reference an acceptance of all physiques and weight is not seen as a hindrance to one’s talent as a dancer.
Crowd watches and cheers as 'fluffy' dancer takes over the stage
There are so many great things to love about Dancehall and Dancehall culture. Its positive impact on women’s confidence is just a dip in the bucket.
Luckily however, I have tons more to share so stay tuned for more!
If you’ve had an experience where Dancehall has positively impacted your self-confidence, I’d love to hear all about it in the comments below.
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If you’d like to try an adult drop-in dance class, check out my online Dancehall classes.
Interested in a private lesson instead? Contact me directly. Happy Dancing!
Raah Vibez is a choreographer and dance instructor with the mission to empower all people to move. She enjoys educating others, especially when it comes to Jamaican Dancehall music, dance, and culture. Learn more about her here.