I'm not worried about dancehall

Published: Monday | December 28, 2009


Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer


This duo performs to the latest dancehall tunes during a Jamaica Day celebration at Ascot Primary School recently. - Anthony Minott/Freelance Photographer

I was in my teens before I could drop the Della Move to Admiral Bailey's instructions and that was when I was at boarding school. At home, it was a no-no when the parents were around.

So a couple weeks ago I was singing Mavado's House Cleaning and our older daughter, who will hit double digits early next year, said: "Daddy, I'll soon tell you what that song means, OK?"

I said I was cool, implying that I would stay in my adult ignorance, though I laughed to myself as I remembered something from my teenage years. My mother and cousin said something about a Ninja Man song with a rather suggestive line that was being played on radio. It was his combination with Tinga Stewart's Take Time To Know Her, which was hot at the time. I hotly contested that they could never have heard that song on radio; they insisted they did.

Of course, we were talking about two versions of the same song. So there was some consternation about what I was listening to.

Our children do not get their more edgy dancehall at home, in a dance, on public transportation or at one of those supposed kiddie parties which are really mini-bashment sessions. They get it word for word from children at their primary school. They do not learn to do the latest dancehall moves at home, but they are proud to say that they had learnt to Skip to My Lou and Holiday la Ding Dong and I was happy for them.

Hell, I was in my teens before I could drop the Della Move to Admiral Bailey's instructions and that was when I was at boarding school. At home, it was a no-no when the parents were around.

DANCEHALL DAGGERERS

So, am I worried about our daughters turning into dancehall daggerers, session addicts, ladies-of-two-colours (bleached and unbleached) and all the assorted ills some associate with dancehall because of their second-hand introduction?

Hell no. They have parents and we are more influential than the top 10 dancehall deejays, sound systems, selectors and hot calendar girls combined.

So me, worry about dancehall's influence on my children? Never.

You see, I look in the mirror very carefully. I l-o-v-e dancehall. From I first heard about Yellowman on Aces Disco to Mavado's Hope and Pray and Assassin's Priority. From I was about 14 years old, I knew every song banned from airplay - and I find it a pain to be rude to someone.

I have sampled every possible kind of marijuana at dances and stage shows all over this country - all second hand. I've sampled the stuff direct from the joint maybe once, and that was at someone's home, not in a dancehall. I have been surrounded by every conceivable kind of liquor - and don't drink alcohol save for the rare tipple.

I cannot count the number of dances I have been to where there have been gunshots and firearms brandished - and I have no clue what a gun feels like.

You see, I had parents. So, I am not worried about my daughters and dancehall, who, chances are, will not come anywhere close to my immersion in that wonderful part of Jamaican culture.

You see, they have parents and I am one of them.

 
 
 
The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of The Gleaner. The Gleaner reserves the right not to publish comments that may be deemed libelous, derogatory or indecent. To respond to The Gleaner please use the feedback form.