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SHINE BRITE LIKE A CUBIC

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  • SOOOOOOOOOO I WAS INTERVIEWED BY A JOURNALIST FROM THE NEW YORK TIMES NEWSPAPER AND YES IT MADE THE FRONT PAGE OF THE SUNDAY PAPER ABOUT DANCEHALL… IM THE LAST PARAGRAPH HMMMMMMM IM A STAR :)

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    Jamaicans Get Party to Come to Them, via DVD

    Craig Phang Sang for The New York Times
    A photograph of a dance party in Jamaica, where hosts often burn event footage to DVDs.
    By SARAH MASLIN NIR
    Published: March 31, 2013
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    MONTEGO BAY, Jamaica — Glenville Brown has never left the island of Jamaica, where he was born and where he poles bamboo rafts full of tourists down a river for a living. But by his own reckoning, he has made hundreds if not thousands of appearances in New York City and throughout the Jamaican diaspora, simply because he loves to party.
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    Michael Appleton for The New York Times
    Keeling Beckford, an owner of a music shop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, said expatriates “like to know what’s going on in the island.”
    Raucous parties erupt nightly across the Caribbean island, in homes and in clubs, on roped off streets and in rural backyards. They are filled with the usual characters, gyrating women and amorous men tossing back booze to music spun by a D.J. — and one uniquely Jamaican fixture, the video man, hired by the host to capture the revelry.

    But unlike a wedding video that stays tucked away unwatched, footage of Jamaican parties gets a second life. Burned onto DVDs and exported to America and elsewhere, the films are snapped up and watched, at home, by Jamaicans abroad who are nostalgic for the sights and sounds and thumping bass lines of home.

    “It’s just people dancing, you know, crazy, and people just love them,” said Keeling Beckford, an owner of Keeling Reggae, a music shop in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. “People over here in the States like to know what’s going on in the island — fashion, dance, the latest slang.”

    There is no narrative or plotline in the films. They are simply start-to-finish recordings of parties, from the sluggish arrival of guests, to awkward milling, to rum-punch sipping, to a crescendo of feverish dancing to a popular form of music known as dancehall. The camera keeps rolling until the last sweaty guests wobble home on their heels. The films are typically watched beginning to end, an activity that can take as long as six hours.

    It may seem melancholy to watch alone as a bunch of strangers cavort at a party you weren’t invited to 1,600 miles away, but many expatriates find it dulls the pangs of homesickness. They often look for films of parties from their hometown, to keep an eye out for friends and family members on the dance floor.

    In this way the party videos have become just another coping mechanism for immigrants, a role more traditionally occupied by food or faith. And they reflect a common sentiment, that the United States has a lot to offer, including better job and educational opportunities, but Americans just do not know how to party.

    Rodney Ivey, 31, a fixture at a reggae store in Queens packed with Bob Marley memorabilia, watches parties most nights. Like many fans, he takes special note of new fashions or hairstyles back home. Dances evolve from week to week in Jamaica. Sometimes, Mr. Ivey will leap off his sofa to practice a new move he sees on the screen, to later use at a party. “I watch them and I live them,” he said.

    The hallmark of a good DVD is outlandish dancing. Egged on by the evening’s M.C., called a “selector,” and a shouted running commentary over furious reggae-inflected beats, women pinwheel their legs while standing on their heads. Some moves are acrobatic — a real showstopper involves a woman dangling from the ceiling and leaping onto a male dance partner, landing in a full split — while others, like “daggering,” are overtly sexual. The dancing often borders on pornographic and by night’s end can sail past that line as bodies jiggle free of minuscule clothes.

    Both men and women buy films, and stress that they are for the most part wholesome entertainment. Sashauna Stewart, 27, who lives in Canarsie, Brooklyn, has been watching them since she was 15 years old, sometimes five in a weekend. She has come to know the party regulars as if they were the cast of a soap opera. Eventually she started flying back to Jamaica to attend parties and vie for a chance to be on camera. “They know that they’re going to be seen in America,” she said. “They try to outdo everyone so they can make the cut and be in the video.”

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