October 2nd, 2008

The Anxiety of Influence

With a thread titled “weh unna tink bout this dancing ting inna the dancehall?????” discussants have taken up the subject of tight pants / “how mi look” fashion over at dancehallreggae.com. Me nuh really rate chatroom passa passa, so I wouldn’t have noticed, except that someone (here’s lookin at you, SELVATRON) linked to my recent blogpost on the phenom.

One funny result of that linkage is that other posters to the thread have embedded the two videos that Brian initially pointed to in order to critique the practice / warn of the corrupting influence of gay style on dancehall culture. So, you’ve got DHR.com members watching a video of DC queens vogue-ing and adding comments like —

pudgydon: this is the future if we nu stop it!

Lol, no? That kind of hysteria is pretty hilarious, implying that homosexuality is like a bug you can catch — or as the woman who might be president would have it, a choice one makes. Another poster makes the direct connection that Brian was making — that recent dancehall crews seem to be taking cues from gay culture:

Klassic: and there lies the problem. dancing is fine BUT at first glance the dancehall dancing trend seems to be styled, patterned and influenced directly from fag village culture. The tight pants/womens jeans, the silly colors and wear, the whole flamboyant outrageous attention seeking attire and must be seen look at me gurl behavior done my men are all gay influenced wether you want to admitt it or not. dancehall kicks down the battymen too much to be styled that way. I mean the fucking irony. and to think I always thought mesh marina’s looked a little gay

The whole conversation is pretty interesting, including sub-threads on whether or not master dancer Bogle was himself gay/ish, whether Elephant Man is destroying dancehall out of greed and unoriginality, and whether — linking to a pic of Bob himself — the tight pants thing is really new at all or need have such connotations (as I pointed out in my own post, referring to 70s reggae fashion).

For those who don’t want to wade thru the thread themselves (tho it might be worth it purely for the emoticons) — & for the record — I’m gonna cut-n-paste some of the more, er, revealing bits below, beginning with the beginning, which, in pudgydon’s defense (tho he gets pretty nasty later on), is a pretty moderate opening:

pudgydon: call me old fashioned or maybe mi juss na ready fi accept the NEW GENERATION! first off let mi say big up all dancers and crews! mi nuh have a problem with all of you BUT some a una gone tooooo far! mi feel seh man can dance but to a point! Some of una a try fi out do the woman dem! this NO LINGA dance is border line gay to me! to much whining to me! if a female a do it mi like it but me nuh like fi see man a whine like a gal! TOO MUCH! weh unna tink?

qnzfinest…: get ready…people to get called a hater or homophobic

Treptic: Totally agree nothing cah leave to the ooman them again is a disgrace.
Man them tek over everything up to all netball them wah fi play

The dancing thing gone too far and them have an article inna the paper weh talk bout how many faggots inna the dancing thing anyway.

One bag a man a whine up, a bleach (fi them form a makeup), inna a pure dress up like gyal a talk bout them a dancer

Its a joke really.

FIRESTAR SOUND: Im not gonna front, back in the days I was a dancer when the bruk-up shit was poppin ..Mi like di old school dance dem still doa, santa barbara, pepperseed, etc… I stopped when Ele was on his “row di boat” ting .. Now though, shit is borderline homosexual .. Niggas be comin in dances w’ pants tighter den di gyal dem skirt to blowhoa… I understand the whole evolution of dancing but this shit has really gone too far fi real .. Niggas need to REALIZE that they look really gay doin most of the shit they doin…

pudgydon: back in the day man used to go a dance fi look gal, now man a look man and man crew! which crew have on the best outfit and craziest hair style! that is very very disturbing to me! this whole dancing era has messed up the dancehall in my opinion. 90% of the song on the radio today deh pon the same topic! daggering or no linga or sweep! weh happen to song with meaning!? no! erybody linga then sweep!

DREADY DUPS: MI SAY IT ONCE MI GO SAY IT AGAIN FROM BOGLE DEAD DI DANCING TING GONE DOWN THE DRAIN. A PURE FUCKERY A GWAN.

realpatriot: bogle look like juss like some a dem wen hima dance

perfect example inna dah video yah

BONITA DESPERADO: I have no problem with the dancing. dancing is great and good to see people enjoy demself.

The vulgarity and extreme nakedness is what me personally don’t like to see in the dancehall. Some things fi stay in people’s private strip session.

nuclear inferno: VERY WELL PUT…..YEAH I HAVE BEIN IN A DANCE WHEN THE MALE DANCERS START PUSH PEIPLE OUT OF THE WAY FOR THEM TO DANCE ………..GIRLIE LOOKING FAGGIE BOY THEM

N.I.X: whole ah dem look gay INCLUDING bogle

triniteam: leaves me with ample women to dance with. when the sound finally decides to play something co ed

pudgydon:

any MAN weh say this is acceptable behavior fi bun up!
A PURE BATTY MAN DEH BOUT NOW!

KWAM1ZZL3: I agree that some men take it TOO FAR. Some are real queers. Still I love to dance and I stay far from them. In some of the most recent dvds I have seen some men jump up on the woman like the woman used to jump up pon them…and call it daggering. Where it gets mixed up is lots of “dancers” dont know where dancehall dancing came from. They look at Marvin and Ding Dong as supreme dancers. I dont mix up in the foolishness, I dance, yes, but my main objective is GYAL.

bushbaby: HOW mi look,HOW mi look,HOW mi look,HOW mi look,

You look like a fag nigga

realpatriot: Boom Some a dem need fi get boom but wah yo seh bout di legend? nuh
nuhbady nuh wear more tight clothes dan

Spragga Killer: YEA DAT A INNA THE SEVENTIES THINGS CHANGE NOW AN BOB REP SPEAKS FI ITSELF WHEN IT COMES TO WOMAN MAN HAVE BARE PITNEY INNA DI 14 PARISH DEM

SUGAR: I DON’T MIND A MAN IN A NICE PAIR A FITTED JEANS BUT IF DEM PANTS TIGHTER DAN MINE MI AN HIM NAW WALK IN A PUBLIC……… WHEN MI GUH DANCE AND SEE DEM IN A DEM SPANDEX PANTS MI JUSSS

Ackee: And that “How mi look”…………..well…..boy, nuh know wha fi sey. Dancehall has certainly changed. Before yu get bun out fi bore nose an press hair….now yu get ratings fi it..and more if yu add likkle colour, and drop in few feathers

No offense to the people who enjoy that….but a nuh really my vibes that.

Kartelyoung: Mi neva see or hear nobody a complain when Bolt and Asafa did a Gully Creep and Nuh Linga wha day, So wha? Wha the problem? If you nuh like it nuh look, nobadda go a dem kinda dance deh, it shouldnt badda you so much,

The Fish a dance fi years now, nobody no say nuttin
Killa just start dance wha day and when him start everybody did surprize, but wha people like it and the gyal dem like it, mi nuh hear nobod ya say Killa tun go go, mi nuh hear The Fish fans say nuttin bad bout him,

Ele a do him ting, a mek money, if you nuh like it dont listen,
Voicemail a do dem ting too, mi nuh hear nobody a diss dem,
Wha only El unno have strength fah?
Look how long him a color him hair, from Scare Dem days,

Mi agree when unno a cuss the danca dem, cause truly dem gwan like homos, and mi nuh like it, dem gwan too feminin, but if you ago cuss El, mekcertain you cuss the other artiste dem who a mek dancin tune too

Black Power Dread: If you think “How Mi Look,” is bad…..Wait until you see “Photo Shoot!!!” That shit is much gayer…

frenchiedan: aight den…soh wen dem seh “how mi look”? is who dem a chat tuh??…cah a cudduh gyal dem a act like an style pon same time!!…but jah kno star,..mi tap go a dance lang time,..an if mi did deh a wan dance an a bwoy come gense mi wid dat fag shit….imm wudah get mi guiness bokkle rite craas imm bloodklaat nose!!!

ReggaeBoyz: AH WAH DI BLOODBATH AH GWAAN.. SINCE WHEN MAN AH ASK MAN HOW MI LOOK? FROM MI EYE DEH AH MI KNEE AH WOMAN ALONE MI HEAR ASK DAT ??? AND MAN RESPONSE WAS YUH LOOK GOOD HUNNY (EVEN IF ALIE) WORSE DI MAN AH FLING HAND UP AND A TWITCH LIKE GYAL. WHAT DI RASS DING DONG HAVE IN AH HIM HAIR??

DANCEHALL HAS BECOMME SHEGGRY ITS CHANGED FROM ART AND EXPRESSION TO HOW BATTYMAN DO I HAVE TO BE TO MAKE SOME MONEY AND BE NOTICED

frenchiedan: a some metrosexual batty ting a gwarn!!!….dem will all sell dem bloodklaat self…

pudgydon: 1)you say to stop go a demdance deh. to stop go a dem dance deh would mean to stop go dance period! every party that is worth going have a video team deh, which mean the batty man dem nuh far!
2)big up usain and asafa. when them did a do the dance them never a gwan like woman though! from start mi say some a di dance/dancers dem mi nuh ha no problem with! bounty killer dance dem were tough! mi nuh say no!
3)elly! mi ratings fi him drop! nuh elly did say” chichi man fi get kick inna face “? and now him a put weave inna him hair? and every song weh him put out start with the same shit! ; i.e. all dancers on the floor, mad michelle, ravers clavers, ding dong, ova mars, stacy,…………… and so on! and from yuh a listen reggae you are going to encounter these songs, cause every riddim the release have at least one track by elly, ding dong, voicemail or any other dj a try fi buss!
4) it seems like all creativity for the djs are failing! as one say sweep, five more say sweep! as one say linga, 8 more say linga! now ricky blaze say how mi look, elly gone with it already!

[update!: as the convo continues onto a 3rd page, we hear from none other than skerrit bwoy himself…]

SKERRIT BWOY: lol. yo leave me dancer frien dem. a work we a work! mad to the thing!!!

pudgydon: yes king! BUT, A NUH THE WORK DEM A DO, A HOW DEM A DO THE WORK! RESPECT Skerrit! man can dance without the batty man antics! majority of these dancers confuse! DANCEHALL COMING LIKE THE BLOODCLAAT CIRCUS!

7 Comments

  • 1. Beenie vs. CNN, Clash vs.&hellip  |  October 3rd, 2008 at 12:31 pm

    […] plans to pants: Wayne & Wax post about dancehall dancers´ gayish routines and outfits made it on Dancehallregga… and caused a very vibrant discussion. Head over to Wayne´s blog for the […]

  • 2. Lasonic TRC-931  |  October 3rd, 2008 at 1:51 pm

    LOL I never thought they’d actually click on the link I put up, but they did!

    They’ve explored this issue over and over again @ DHR, its usually the foreigners vs a few yardies when it comes to tight pants (I’m assuming because the Jamaicans actually in Jamaica would need a certain standard of living that’s probably above most Passa Passa attendees, whereas in the US you don’t need to be part of the elite to have a computer and internet. So basically, no man who bleaches their face and wears their sister’s pants would even know this convo is goin on) and the US based ppl used to be vitriolic in their disdain for anything but huge jeans and thug jammies (enormous white tshirts). There was a significant amount of ire reserved for square toed club shoes as well lol. Only recently when the rappers started wearing different clothes did the US based posters slow down with the anti-tight pants tirades… Interestingly Jim Jones just recently claimed credit for the style and didn’t seem to even know that Jamaicans in NY had been wearing that style before Dipset and Kanye made their mark on the NYC kids…

  • 3. wayneandwax  |  October 3rd, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Wow, that’s a fascinating lil interview with Jim Jones. Them’s fightin vogue-ing (?) words! Dude’s throwing shade! lol —

    And thanks for the context on these discussions @ DHR. I just don’t read there regularly (or any messageboard for that matter); just too much vitriol for my tastes, tho the “discussions” can be pretty interesting at times. You trace out an interesting history of exchange there. I might have to dip into the archives at some point. (keywords: “tight pants” + “fi bun” ?)

    Incidentally, I found the following, telling search led someone from Jamaica to my site today. Talk about anxiety of influence! I mean, you can’t get much more hetero than daggering.

  • 4. Nina  |  October 6th, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Geez. I have my own take on the whole pretty men being gay thing. It kills me to see how people react to it though.

  • 5. kevin  |  October 6th, 2008 at 4:16 pm

    although their emergence is related, the dipset/swagger-like-us and ravers-clavers/how-mi-look styles are separate phenomena. jim jones isn’t taking credit for ricky blaze so much as he is lil wayne. this is a pretty easy case to make photographically. it’s only been a year or two since wayne started wearing rockstar fashion while dipset has been on it for at least twice that long.

    for example, contrast jones’ big belt buckle to the game’s XL white T in “certified gangstas” from 2004 (2005?)
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tg9xVCkpiOc

    assuming i’m right and both hip-hop and dancehall have gone from no-homo to tight-pants in just a few seasons, there might be some third thing influencing these rising inseams. my suspicion is that kids coming up with myspace and youtube are less fearful about seeming gay. what about those online experiences would lead to this conclusion?

    many said that men’s fashion would never return to the saturday night fever flamboyance of the 1970s but perhaps the kanye-west-ification of hip-hop is the pendulum swinging back again?

    (aside: this reminded me of “on my way up”, the most underappreciated dipset beat evarrrr. sounds like something from an 80s sci-fi soundtrack:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1baXBDSW68 )

  • 6. wayneandwax  |  October 7th, 2008 at 11:06 am

    that’s a really interesting take on all this, kevin. the idea that web-mediated experiences account significantly for this shift in fashion/identification is pretty persuasive, actually. i’d love to see some further research into the question of how young people immersed in the digital worlds of myspace/youtube/etc are revising ideas about fixed senses of self (and other) based on their ability to represent themselves fluidly, multiply, and so on. seems promising — from a research and social standpoint.

    it definitely seems to me, at any rate, that the whole tight-pants/day-glo/rockstar look among black youth is a lot more of a grassroots level thing than something being dictated by rapstars. (tho jim jones and weezy and kanye certainly play a role as [latecomer] popularizers.)

    at the same time, i’m not sure how accurate it is to call the dancehall and hip-hop sides of the coin “separate phenomena.” they’re both in brooklyn, they’re both on myspace, and these worlds are hardly discrete — rather they intersect, sometimes rather intensely, sometimes more subtly. depends who you ask, obviously, and what they’re watching and how they’re looking, but i think there’s a lot of bleeding back and forth a-gwaan.

  • 7. kevin the d  |  October 7th, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    certainly the boundaries are porous, weak, imaginary, contested. you said it in your 2nd paragraph: tightpants don’t come from ele, weezy, ding dong, dipset, nor voicemail .. rather there might be some other cultural flows at work here. whether or not the participatory internet encourages self-flection, it definitely makes it easier to see, hear, and read about different kinds of people.

    like you said the other day, WE NEED MOAR DATA!!!11

Wayne&Wax

I'm a techno-musicologist, internet annotator, imagined community organizer.

I left my <3 in the digital global, but I reside in Cambridge, MA, where I'm from.

I represent like that.

wayne at wayneandwax dot com

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