How Jamaican Dancehall Queens Twerk For A Living | Style Out There | Refinery29

Do you have a signature dance move?
Boo, boo boo, boo boo wine, boo.
Oh my god!
Well, I see that but I don’t even think
I could do that in my dreams.
You have to stop it girl, you can do it.
It’s a push!
I have the equipment, but I don’t have the
Let’s be honest, twerking calls for a specific uniform.
Spandex doesn’t leave much to the imagination…
But what can clothing that’s meant to expose…
Jamaica, vacation paradise.
4.3 million people come here to get away.
Rich with culture and music, it’s become
a worldwide source of inspiration.
But it’s in the poorer neighborhoods of
West Kingston that creative expressions like
rocksteady and reggae found their voice.
This is Riverton.
A neighborhood that’s technically the site
of a city dump.
It’s also where Dollybody, an aspiring dancer,
grew up.
So this is where everything first started.
Notorious for gang violence, 90 percent of
Riverton’s citizens are unemployed, but
Dolly has a marketable skill.
Dolly, how does that make you feel when you
hear everybody say you’re a role model?
Dolly is part of what’s becoming the country’s
most influential export: dancehall.
The source of this global phenomenon is late
night, on Kingston’s streets.
It’s fashion, dance, and a party all-in-one.
It’s been around since the 70’s, but the
modern scene surrounding it is jaw-dropping.
You’ve probably seen the videos online,
and if you haven’t, check this out.
Part professional wrestling, part sexual pantomime,
with an equally provocative style.
With this increased visibility, dancehall
has become a lightning rod for conversations
about empowerment and exploitation.
what does it mean to put on a pair of booty
shorts… and wine?
To her family, she’s Jahnoia.
To the world, she’s “Danger”.
Dancehall Queen, that’s a big title.
That is your whole lifestyle itself.
Every move I make, everywhere I go, I want persons to look at me and say,
“Wow, this girl, something about her. She must be a dancer.”
I am an International Dancehall Queen, people know me for doing a lot of dangerous stunts.
Danger won the International Dancehall Competition in 2014.
It’s not just bragging rights. Winning it
means you’ve made it.
And I guess I have too, because tonight the
queen is taking me out to party.
I have a big confession.
I cannot dance.
At all!
Well, the vibe is so contagious.
What does it look like, when does it get good?
On Sundays you have early events, you want to go there by 10 o’clock.
That’s early?
That’s early?
Yes, that’s early.
10 o’clock?
Ten PM, that’s early.
So is this what you’re wearing tonight?
No! I’m not wearing this.
Oh, I’m sorry I was gonna say it’s pretty
It is stunning for now, but not for tonight.
As a dancehall queen, Danger gets paid to
travel around the world teaching classes and
appearing in music videos.
Well my day today is very unpredictable.
When I’m in Kingston I go out four to seven times a week because party here is nonstop.
I went to my first dancehall party at the age of 14. We were under our mom’s supervision.
She knows that we can get a source of income from dancing.
I have the perfect job, because I’m doing what I love and I’m making money from it.
With her personal appearances, Danger can
make up to $800 US dollars a week — three
times what the average Jamaican makes.
For Danger, party promo is just another day
at the office.
For me, it’s a little different.
When I go out in New York, back home, I’m
usually wearing the same exact outfit that
I wear during the daytime.
I put on some lipstick and maybe put my hair
I think that’s it.
Wish me luck.
We’re heading to Uptown Monday.
Dancehall has traditionally been a male space,
with most of the DJ’s and even musical artists
being men.
But one place they do want women is on the
And that means we get in for free.
There are no numbers to call, no coat checks.
Follow the reverberating bass to the strip
mall plaza or abandoned parking lot drenched
in lasers.
Parties here go on every single night of the
week. There’s Mojito Mondays, sexy Tuesdays,
and the list goes on.
I just ordered two magnum tonic wines.
Basically, Viagra…on ice.
It’s the unofficial drink of dancehall.
Skin tight and revealing, the clothes are provocative.
But as the night goes on and the cameras come
out, I can’t help but wonder…
what are they provoking?
People are pushing the limits, taking every
opportunity to grab the spotlight.
And Danger is no exception.
As I look on at the scene of late night delirium,
I have to admit, part of me is horrified.
Are people having fun?
Or are there lines being crossed?
I saw a woman get crushed under a person and
get her head rammed into a rail, but then
she came out of it smiling and so I’m a
little bit confused.
I wish that it could be as simple as changing
my outfit, but I sense I’m going to need
more than a tube top to navigate what feels
like mixed messages.
What I do know for now is, as an outsider,
the power dynamic on the dance floor is anything
but clear.
Women in Jamaica face staggering realities.
One in three will experience domestic violence.
And the country has one of the highest rates
of rape per capita.
But how do these statistics connect with the
dynamics on the dance floor?
We could talk almost about a culture of rape in Jamaica.
We could almost talk about a culture of rape.
But we certainly can talk about a culture
of entitlement that men feel in relation to
women’s bodies.
Dr. Sonjah Stanley Niaah has written extensively
on the complex history of dancehall and its
connection to Jamaica’s larger cultural
In Jamaica, we prescribe behaviors for women,
prescribe propriety for women, we talk about
the virtuous woman, and of course in terms
of gender norms, women couldn’t do what
men did.
Women couldn’t act in the way that men acted,
and they certainly could not afford to have
their reputation sullied.
But in dancehall, being a space where you
can recreate yourself allows true empowerment.
The fashion worn by women tells us stories.
In the same way that the dance moves tell
us stories.
A lot of the dance moves seem pretty graphic
and pretty extreme.
And sometimes, you know, pretty demeaning
towards women.
Someone from outside is always going to see
dancehall in terms of a culture shock.
It’s a space with historical
baggage that is filled with people who have
been oppressed.
Children played a prominent part in Jamaica’s
tribute to the Queen and the Duke…
For centuries, Jamaica was a pawn to colonial
Sugar cane has been grown and harvested here
for nearly 300 years.
It suffered through slavery, riots, and various
forms of social unrest until its independence
from the British in 1962.
Reggae became the sound of liberation.
But it’s Rasta roots were conservative,
especially when it came to women and sex.
People became disillusioned, and began looking
for a different kind of escape.
Dancehall’s beats hit harder, lyrics became
X-rated, and the clothing got sexier.
Showing off the clothes became a performance –
first as women began modeling, then dancing.
It is a really phenomenal thing when a woman can
adorn herself in a particular way using dance
moves to become a liberated being.
Dancing is everything.
Dancing gives you life. If you want to free your mind, you have something that bothers you,
once you touch in the dancehall circle, everything just, the burden just comes off of you.
It’s 4PM.
And Dolly Body is waking up.
How I come by the name of Dolly Body, after I give birth to my son, I don’t look like I just have a child.
So I was in the club, take a picture, give it a caption.
Dolly Body.
I just ran with it. And from run with it, it gone.
Growing up as one of seven children, life
wasn’t always easy for Dolly and her family.
Dancing is her way out.
I’m a dancehall dancer, who wants to be a dancehall queen.
Take more practicing, a lot more exposure.
If you don’t sell yourself you’re not going nowhere.
Fashion has to be a part of your game.
You have to put yourself together each night. Your fashion has to be on top.
Rhinestones and mesh might not seem like everyday
Nia, Dolly’s stylist and photographer, would
Sexy and dancehall queen is like peanut butter and jelly.
She’s promised to get me in touch with my
inner queen.
This is a no underwear outfit.
Nipples to the wind, basically.
Nipples to the wind?
Nipples to the wind. The clothing is made to emphasize your body.
Oh my god, you can dance in basically anything
What is the most “Dolly” outfit?
You see this outfit? You see Dolly Body.
It’s kinda Selena.
Impy- skimpy.
She’d also wear this.
Would you wear it?
Would I wear it?
Live a little, you’re in Jamaica.
This piece was inspired by an overseas designer. They can make it, but we can rock it.
Just a little more in touch with our sexy side and we’re not afraid to flaunt it.
Would you say that’s the case for all Jamaican
Not necessarily, but nowadays it’s becoming more of a trend.
Everyone wants to feel their best about themselves. And clothing can do that.
You just can’t be a queen without looking…
Like a queen.
Like a queen.
For some reason, I feel more naked in something
like this than in a swimsuit.
Come and wow us. Yes!
You feel sexy, don’t you?
I do.
You feel sexy, right?
I really do.
This is definitely outside my comfort zone.
It is. But you look good.
Strike a pose Connie, strike a pose.
Yeah, I love the pose!
A defining part about my style is clothes
that don’t show off my body and I always
like to think it’s something I chose.
Your butt looks great Connie.
Thank you.
But part of that might be that I’m actually
not that comfortable with my body, and shopping
with Dolly just now
made that very clear to me.
I feel like this is kind of like a figure
skater look too.
Like Connie on ice.
In the U.S., people tip toe around the idea
of “going out clothes”.
It’s understood that the look should be
sexy and attractive, but it can’t be too
sexy or too attractive — there’s an invisible
line that women are constantly negotiating.
At dancehall parties, that line just doesn’t
Sexuality is a given.
The racy fashion becomes a source of confidence,
not a hurdle.
For Dolly, the tiny tops and shorts are a
way to show off her personality,
and elicit confidence.
But in a patriarchal
society, dressing sexy can also be lucrative.
In Daniiboo’s life, sex sells.
Of course, I love dancing.
Twerking and dancing, and I am very flexible.
That’s my thing.
Daniiboo is part of a new generation of dancers.
She’s using social media to get the attention
you would normally get from a competition.
With 400 thousand followers on Instagram,
it’s working.
What makes a video go viral?
No lie.
No jokes. I get more views when I post videos
in booty shorts.
But there’s another secret to her success.
My manager is also my videographer.
Where capturing content is concerned, it’s
more professional.
He’s also her boyfriend.
He and Daniiboo met on the dance floor.
All of this trust came before everything.
He is my partner, not just my manager.
We’re dating.
When someone mentions dancehall, they should
think about Daniiboo.
She has a special gift and she’s all natural.
And she has great assets.
So depending on the shot…
Well, I’m a guy, so I know what guys are
looking for.
I know sexy shots.
It’s interesting for me to sit here and
hear them speak so frankly about using sex
to increase her exposure.
But Daniiboo insists that she has found success
in taking control of her own image.
When she’s busy, she can make up to 900
US dollars a week.
This is all of Kingston!
Yes, beautiful!
And as I overlook the city from one of its
most exclusive neighborhoods, I can’t disagree.
If you had one piece of advice for a young
woman who wants to make a name for herself
in the dancehall, what would that be?
You have to stand for something or you’re
going to fall for
You’ve got to be serious.
If you’re not serious, you have to make
them take you serious.
My dream about my career is I move from the ghetto.
There is hope in being a dancer. You have to know your potential, know your worth.
Know how to go about getting what you want. You have to put yourself out there.
It’s a little subtle.
I mean, it’s a skin tight bodysuit,
and I’m calling it subtle, but now that I’ve
seen dancehall, my world has changed.
It’s like if Lance Armstrong went a little
bit goth.
Dancehall is a mirror of the Jamaican society.
It reflects absolutely who we are as a people.
Some of that is negative and some of that
is positive.
Dancehall can be seen as a space of exaggeration.
It’s going to show
you to yourself.
I tried tonight, I turned it up.
Dancehall women have made really important
strides in terms of determining the ways in
which we have to give up the boundaries, we
have to think outside of the box.
Dancehall is a space to play with the rules or make up your own, with a support system
behind you.
When I’m dancing it’s a great feeling.
I love the feeling.
That’s my city and I’m the superwoman in the
city right there in the dancehall and imma
save the day.
In dancehall, women are fearless.
Women are superhuman.
Inventive, hilarious, and sexy.
Like when when I’m in the party, I feel amazing.
It kicks off and the love and the support is real.
By learning to have complete control over
their bodies and what it can do, by learning
how to negotiate with men on their own terms
and monetize their passions, women are more
empowered to confront men who believe that
they don’t deserve respect.
We are queens, we are bold.
We are not afraid to go out there to do what we want, to demand what we want and to live how we want,
and represent women all over the world and to let them know that it’s okay to be yourself and don’t be afraid,
don’t hold back.
Ladies, turn it up!

100 thoughts on “How Jamaican Dancehall Queens Twerk For A Living | Style Out There | Refinery29

  1. When women get in for free, its because women are the product. Dancing is expressive and empowering, but not in that kind of environment. Watching this video made me physically ill, seeing what these wonderful women have to tollerate and accept in order for them and thier skills be recognized. It most certainly does have a culture of rape, but that is not all that the dance hall culture is or represents. I can only hope that these women who have gained an influence are able help all women gain repect.

  2. jamamican girls are disgusting
    they should be focus on cleaning up that horrible hood
    instead of fanning all that fufu funk

  3. 3 times higher wages , compared to 90 percent of all Jamaicans . That's the real Boyz , take notes . On that flip a side . N adouble soda. Sheeeze plezin when shakeen

  4. I saw a woman get crushed under a person , and head rammed into a rail . ( She came out smiling ). Says the reporter . This is what she says Mon.

  5. I'm glad I do not live there .I guess there dancing parties gets them to have fun but I wouldn't consider that fun but to each there own .

  6. All that effort and degradation and they appear to be living just like everyone else. If you are going to submit to exploitation at least use the proceeds to lift yourself up out of poverty.

  7. Thank you this was very informative. But omg as someone who won't shut up about women empowerment, the INTENSE DRY HUMPING part was mortifying to me. It's beyond demeaning.

  8. Too fucking Ruff for my body…dont ram my head going crazy.. Mine is for the bed room my man only

  9. Home girls wig hair is driving me crazy it looks sooooooo silly in the front. Sheesh. How he stylist allow her to look like that lol

  10. I have a thing for this!!!! Secretly, I want to learn how!!!
    And that lady at 1:58…speechless!!!
    If it makes you feel good, go for it!!

  11. How can I switch my New Yawk accent, to Tat Sexy ''Ja-Mak-Con'' Accent…I Fuk'n Love the way they Tawk…

  12. Dancehall is only empowering and fun when these women get creative with their outfits and routines and compete in competitions. But the mess they do at the clubs with letting the men objectifying them is NOT empowering and very degrading to the women.

  13. I wouldn’t call them dancers I call them sex in public with clothes on of course these women will get rapped.

  14. Jauh di lubuh para wanita itu pasti ingin di hormati, namun sebelum di hormati, selayaknya diapun harus menghormati dirinya sendiri, sediiih sih mereka jadi dancer karna engga punya pilihan lain untuk hidup, di grepe, dengan pose2 sex kaya gituh

  15. i don't think that is dancing at all , like it pretty cool when the girls dance but when men come up it just so wild and cringy to see . i don't think dancehall empowers women that much there is other stuff that empowers them more than being treated like that , but if they like it and make them feel powerful than who are we to judge them !

  16. Women have sensitive bodies. Men cant handle them like that! They would get murdered in my country. This is violence!

  17. I'm thinking the asian girl swerved us all because she was turned way up at the end for someone thats modest and can't dance.

  18. This dont seem empowering to me?
    Seems like bunch of free spirted drunk girls partying and making money off thirsty horny guys

  19. Hmmm… Big rape number you say. Im sorry but isnt it provoking… No one deserves it but it's still kind of, you know. In this case

  20. Watched the whole video: To be honest I can see where it is liberating as well as degrading based on how some of the men treat the women….I can see both views but my ultimate wish is that these women can get the money they need to do what they want!

  21. Women dancing, being sexy, embracing their bodies, that is amazing. But the way the men just grab them, throw them around, ram them into walls, that bothers me.

  22. Vanessa so true. Just 30 years ago those guys would have gotten a box upside the head. This dry humping became common after the porn explosion of the late 1990s.


  24. That professor lady is taking bulls hit empowering women by dancing sexualy and men grabbing them this is rubbish

  25. I’m sorry but how does shaking your ass while men groping you like wild hungry pack wolves empowerment? Not being rude here, I love dance hall as a music genre, but as a dance I see it as pretty demeaning. But dance in general is a beautiful thing, it’s amazing

  26. The way men treated those ladies , if it was here in east Africa , our ancestors would punish us with na rain for a decade so we can repent already,

  27. Dancing ain't bad if they bring food on the table but the men need to get to some point the ladies need to have limits the men actually cross extreme boundaries
    So sad for the ladies there?

  28. It demeans the women all the more. Humping to hard music while spreading the extremeties to cameras and the public is empowering? It is the prostitution that we enjoy as carnal beings

  29. Dollyquen is pretty…..subscribe to my channel and enjoy seeing AFRICAN GIRLS TWERKING ……………………………

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