Dancehall stage and style

Friday, July 18, 2014

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OVER-THE-EDGE dancehall fashions of the 1990s are long gone. However, occasionally, an artiste will earn a double take.

Female deejay Spice is one such artiste known for her outrageous stage outfits.

"It is extremely important for me to give that visual to my audience," Spice explained. "If I don't come out looking outrageous I feel like I have disappointed my fans. Before any major stage appearance, when I'm in the streets, there are always people coming up to me and saying how they can't wait to see what I will be wearing. So, it is extremely important to make a statement," she said.

Spice was one of two female artistes scheduled for last night's Dancehall Night at Reggae Sumfest at the Catherine Hall Entertainment Complex in St James.

Spice's arsenal of show-stopping outfits include a mirrored-leotard and a towering, electric-blue afro wig which she wore to Reggae Sumfest in 2011. Last year she literally tumbled onto the Sumfest stage encased in a bubble and wearing a foot-high platforms.

However, the men are not to be outdone.

Images of deejay Elephant Man wearing what appeared to be a skirt and leggings went viral and created quite some discussion on social media last week. The chatter subsided as it was soon realised that the 'skirt' was really a part of his trousers.

Elephant Man, like many other dancehall acts, has never been afraid to push the fashion envelope, especially when it comes to their attire for stage. 'Ele' is well known for his fashion sense from his earliest days as part of the Scare Dem Crew quartet.

This over-the-top sense of style truly came to the fore during the 1990s with the likes of dancehall Queen Carlene.

As the poster girl of dancehall fashion, Carlene Smith, teased dancehall's sensibilities with a bare-as-you-dare style, which brought undergarments 'outer garments'.

Gerald 'Bogle' Levy, late dancehall choreographer, was also one to inject his style into the culture of the dancehall and coined the phrase 'fashion ova style'. For Levy, it was about lavish, gold jewellery, studded cuffs and collars and hard-to-miss work boots.

The artiste of today is more content to flash, more understated designer duds as opposed to loud costumes. But there are still the likes of a Elephant Man and Spice who will always make a statement through fashion.





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