Bruk Up: Reggae Dancing Workshop X History Lesson

Words by Jesse Serwer

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When the earliest B-boys were first getting busy on the linoleum floors of the Bronx in the 1970s, no one would have imagined that “hip-hop dance” would one day be offered at every YMCA and health club the world over. And who would have guessed, back when strip clubs were still considered solely the stronghold of sleazeballs and sailors, that “pole dancing” would become a mainstream pastime for suburban housewives and soccer moms? Dancehall dancing, or reggae dancing, while still well off the mainstream radar in the United States, seems increasingly primed for similar acceptance. In true Jamaican fashion, the music has had its own distinct style of movement since the culture was birthed in the early 1980s. The distinctive aesthetic really became apparent in the 1990s, when the late Mr. Bogle, Gerald Levy, popularized his namesake step in videos and even the Hollywood film Belly.

Now, though, reggae dancing is increasingly showing up outside of the club and dances. This is particularly true in the New York City area, where friends of LargeUp such as Donnaray of Dancerzblvd and Hannah Herbertson of Blackgold Dancers offer classes at local dance studios. This Sunday, Dancerzblvd’s Stephen McIntosh a/k/a Ledgen, will host “Dancehall Mad Again,” an “authentic, intensive dancehall workshop teaching the elements and history behind the movement” at Pearl Studios on Manhattan’s West Side. All proceeds from the event, which also features Nicki Minaj dancer ReggRoc, go to Japan, a place that has long been a hotbed of reggae dance crews and dancehall queens.

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