Throwback Thursdays: Dancehall Queen Carlene Conquers Cuba

August 22, 2013

Words by Jesse Serwerโ€”


Yesterday, we acknowledged the original dancehall queen, Carlene Smith (a/k/a DHQ Carlene), as one of the baddest Jamaican gyals of all-time. While doing our research we turned up something rather fascinating about the Butterfly creator and former Beenie Man flame (happy birthday, Beenie Man!)ย  that we never knew: in the ’90s, Carlene and her signature dance were even bigger and more celebrated in communist Cuba than at home in Jamaica. As Carlene bluntly puts it in this Jamaican news segment, “When I got to Cuba, over 30,000 people turned up to see me do the butterfly… There wasn’t a stageshow, there was just me, Carlene from Jamaica.”

You really got to watch this one to grasp the extent of it, although it makes sense given the Butterlfy’s roots in traditional African movements, and the celebration of African dance in Cuba. And read the comments on the YouTube clip for some more perspective on the crazy story behind Carlene’s first arrival in Cuba…