Words by DJ Gravy
Back in the early 80’s I lived on the Upper West side of Manhattan right off of Broadway and 97th St. It seemed like almost every nice day we’d see a crew of young kids dancing on a large piece of cardboard to a soundtrack of breakbeats coming out of their boombox. A lot of times the cops would chase them away and I can still remember the “what are we doing that’s so wrong” looks on their faces as they scurried away, one grabbing the boombox, one grabbing the cardboard as they ran off to find another location to perform and collect donations.
I later found out this crew of kids were known as the New York City Breakers. Breakdancing was THE cool thing for young kids, when I moved to the Bronx in 83, everyone up there was way into it. Movies like Breakin’ and Style Wars soon came out exposing this new Hip Hop culture to the masses. Breakdancing soon got cold in NY, only to come back in with the Rave and Junglist circuits in the 90’s.
As the 90’s rolled around, some new dance moves were making their way into Hip Hop, one particularly, “The Bogle” was everywhere. People were doing it on the Arsenio Hall Show, Video Music Box, a new rapper named Snoop Dog incorporated it into his swagger, and A Tribe Called Quest referenced ‘Boglin in the party’ in their music. To this day I speak with people convinced that “The Bogle” was a Hip Hop dance, and to an extent they’re right. But Bogle was the nickname of Jamaican Dancer (and his dance) Gerald “Bogle” Levy. His influnence from the JA dancehall scene to the world has gone all but unnoticed by supposed pop culture “experts”. Between mentoring countless dancer youths to his “Wacky” punk rock attire, he was such a force, and while he has become a legend of cult level status, he’s yet to receive his proper dues on a mainstream level. He was tragically gunned down after a dance almost 6 years ago.
Now while pop star diva Beyonce incorporates the “Dutty Wine” and “Nuh Linga” into her live performances, Jamaican dancing has still yet to be recognized on a corporate level as a monstrous force capable of spearheading campaigns and whatnot. However, Canada’s version of TV’s So You Think You Can Dance has a recent episode with non-Caribbean dancers doing an impressive routine to Vybz Kartel’s massive hit, “Clarks”. The choreographer who picked the tune forces them to learn the lyrics and really embody the galis swag.
We at Largeup predict the JA dance phenom will cross over into mainstream within the next few years as breakdancing did in the 80’s. Dancehall dance classes and workshops are popping up all over the world with dancers like Sickinhead, Donna Ray and Likkle Bit (of Dancers Blvd) and Hanna Herbertson’s Black Gold Dancers all setting the trend that could easily end up at a local YMCA before you know it. Dancers roll out, to di world mi seh!!!!