I always stay in Bull Savannah. Bull Sav as the locals call it. Located in beautiful rural St Elizabeth, where you can literally jack up a couple of speakers anywhere and have a dance any day of the week. It is reminiscent of the old days in London, before mobile phones, where you would drive up and down the London roads, to listen out for who is playing music, to find out where the party is at. Well that’s Bull Sav, where I can just sit in the garden and listen out for where the next dance is at and this had been every day since I arrived.
In terms of the music, Soca is not usually a genre of music that is widely played in dances. One or tunes maximum, but usually its Dollar Wine or some old time soca track, like Sugar Bum Bum. Nevertheless, Jamaica is cementing itself firmly on the map for carnivals with the popularity of Jamaica Bachannal and have found that DJ’s are starting to introduce Soca in some dances. However, Soca mixes are definitely not on point yet, which is pretty much understandable when Bashment and Dancehall rules. For instance, I went to my first dance on the Saturday after I had arrived, the dance was nice, and suddenly the DJ (Keeno) spins “Woi bashment in town check out the gyal them wining down”.. which most self respecting Soca connoisseurs know that they are the lyrics to the start of Lil Rick’s highly popular Soca track, ‘Go dung’… but the wickedness, the down right evilness is that, that’s all he did! The DJ that was playing that set just played the one line and changed the tune. Just like that. That DJ dangled a Soca carrot and a pint of rum in my face and snatched it back in two seconds. I didn’t think I was hungry for Soca, but those first catchy lines got me set to “go dung”… my knees positioned, but that never came. Instead we were treated to Celine Dion’s My heart will go on and then two more tracks of hers. I am telling you there would be national day of mourning in Jamaica if that woman passed.
However, it was at a dance in Top Bull Savannah that challenged my view of the local DJ’s. DJ Wiz became the man of the moment for me. An whole hour of ‘sort of Soca’.. but nevertheless Soca. I thought I would never hear an up to date Soca track in Jamaica, but I did and I appreciated every track. I swear everyone in the dance knew I was a Soca head. I buss my best moves, I changed from Bashment to Soca in one song. Then came the clanger. They dropped Cotton eye Joe by the Rednex! No kidding, right after Bunji’s Differentology track. Those who have been subjected to Jamaican dances know they love pop music and it’s nothing to drop “Sledgehammer” and definitely a compilation of Celine Dion tracks and everyone is bopping to the tunes. After that it’s, ” Simply the Best” by Tina Turner, “Electric Boogie” by Marcia Griffiths. “Last night a DJ changed my life” by Indeep was surprising, but they also featured “Caribbean Queen” by Billy ocean and Madonna’s “Like A Virgin”. These were standard pop prerequisites played in any dance and normally no track is never ever fully played until the end. Usually less than one minute of the track, except for the pop songs. No, with pop your subjected to the track all the way through or even continued wheeeeeeel ups.. Those tracks go down a treat.
Jamaican Pop Music Essential Selection
Eagle Killa Sound System
Another day and yet another dance down the road, this time being entertained by Eagle Killa Sound System. What a dance. I just love Jamaican dances moreover you can really lose yourself in the full vibe. Jamaican’s, are colourful, vibrant, hyped, love a party, Rum and Red Stripe. Also introducing Campari which is the drink of the moment in Jamaica.
I also by chance met a local artist by the name of Blazer Yute. A young, talented Producer, Sound Engineer, Promoter and Reggae Artist. He produces all his own website designs, has his own magazine and radio station, plus numerous other local and international business collaborations – there is no end to his talent. Blazer is an up and coming artist who has featured at many dances in Jamaica and more recently appeared at Sting 2017, New Year’s Day in Alligator Pond and billed for Rebel Salute 2018. Click on his link to find out more or for bookings!
Blazer Yute Music Collection
Bass Odyssey Sound System International
Another sound system close to my heart is Bass Odyssey Sound System International and had the pleasure of attending two dances where they featured. Jamaica/Miami Link up and the New Year’s Day Dance in Alligator Pond. Since 1989, Bass Odyssey has captivated fans around the globe with its unique capability of juggling the best of Dancehall and Reggae music, alongside hyping the crowd. It is one of the most popular sounds to emerge from Jamaica and is my favourite sound system. Check out the showcase of videos of the New Year’s Day Dance.
New Year’s Day @ Alligator Pond 2018
I love the impact that Soca is having in Jamaica and the fact that the music is being played. However, Soca will definitely need to take a back seat for a while, for Jamaica is dominated by Bashment, Dancehall and yep Pop music. I was actually in Jamaica on holiday to take a much needed break, but instead I found myself mercilessly drawn out, but never resisting the chance to “go ah dance”.