Words by Blacka Di Danca—
New York City-based dancer extraordinaire Blacka Di Danca has been traveling the world spreading the gospel of dancehall through classes and appearances at top dance studios and clubs from Latin America to Siberia (yes, Siberia). For Blacka, it’s not just about teaching steps but serving as an ambassador for his culture: at just 23, he’s broken down barriers, and introduced people to the ethos and history of dancehall in places where the genre has only previously been experienced via computer screen. As Blacka’s journeys have grown increasingly frequent, we thought it was time he held down his own column on LargeUp. Here, he reports back from his latest excursion, to North America’s largest metropolis: Mexico City.
Boarding the flight, it hit me… I’m teaching dancehall classes in Mexico! Just like last week in Siberia, this trip to Mexico would also be my first there. I was bubbly and excited the entire trip there. When I landed, the organizer, Skar, of Iniciativa Dancehall, was there to pick me up. Skar and I had been Facebook friends for almost four years, and we finally had the chance to meet and work together. After a taxi ride to Mexico City, he took me to visit the Temple Mayor, an ancient Aztec Temple. The vibe and the feeling was so calming. It was amazing to be able to look at history, and even feel like I was living in it. We spent an hour or two looking at artifacts in the museum, and I left with a serene heart.
The next stop was the best… Tacos! Before Mexico, I thought Taco Bell was the best. But now that I know how a real taco is supposed to taste… Well, I never want Taco Bell again. After our amazing meal, I went to my hotel to relax and then out to party. The reggae party at Kaya Bar was one of the best that I’ve ever been to—the music was as good as back home in NYC, one of the epicenters of reggae outside of Jamaica. The owner was so nice—I can’t remember how many free shots of tequila he handed us! We danced and enjoyed a beautiful reggae night in Mexico. If ever in Mexico City, make sure to visit Kaya Bar.
The following morning I got ready to teach four hours of dancehall classes—half old-school and half newer-school—and it went great. The altitude in Mexico City is about 7,000 feet high, so at times I was so out of breath, I felt like passing out. But I was there for a purpose, so I sucked it up. The students were so kind and sweet. I took pictures with nearly all of them individually—sometimes multiple pictures—which was fun. I staged a mini competition to remember dance steps and gave out Large Up and Rice and Peas shirts to the winners as a prize. I also gave tons of stickers and buttons away. Large Up is definitely in Mexico!
Following four hours of classes, I was booked to perform at a party later that night. After a shower and some more tacos, I headed to Club Atlantico, a spacious club which even had a green room. Everyone there took photos with me—it was a very humbling experience. Throughout the night, a number of mostly female dancehall crews performed. I watched them all—Pon Di Fiyah, Iration Crew, Special Danza Crew. They were so good! You could see in their movements how much they respected the culture. It was all very authentic.
It was my turn to hit the stage after being announced by Skar, and phones and cameras immediately went up in the air. The DJ hit the track and I started dancing. They loved it, and I was happy. I brought a few of the previous performers up on stage for my finale—you always gotta show respect to the local dancers, wherever you are! I closed out a great night by eating some more tacos—and tamales—with friends, and went to sleep. Sadly, the next morning it was time to part ways with my new family. I didn’t want to leave, and I’m already ready to go back.
Before my trip, friends warned me how Mexico is so dangerous, urging me to be careful and even not to go. But they were wrong. Mexico is safe, Mexico is beautiful, and it’s full of culture and great people. Mexico es mi casa!