Keeping glamour in dancehall


Keeping glamour in dancehall

Observer senior writer

Friday, September 20, 2019

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OF the countless dances he plays annually, veteran sound-system selector Glamour Wayne looks forward to the annual House Of Leo Reunion at La Roose in Bronx, New York. A fixture of the New York City reggae scene, this year's show takes place September 28.

House Of Leo Reunion recalls the 1990s heyday of the Kingston venue, which was the epicentre for the hottest dances, artistes, producers and personalities. Glamour Wayne, who was with Gemini sound system at the time, was a regular there.

“This brings back memories of when wi used to party at House Of Leo, 'cause it was the forefront of dancehall an' reggae. Everybody was there; all di don dem, di divas, uptown people,” he reflected during an interview with Splash.

For next week's dance, Glamour Wayne reunites with Gemini. Jah Wise of Inner City, Sky Juice of Metro Media, Rory Gilligan (formerly of Stone Love) and Jabba from Massive B will also be in action.

From the Nelson Road area of Maxfield Avenue in Kingston, Glamour Wayne has lived in the Big Apple for over 20 years. During that time, he has played at dances across the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe and Japan.

Nearly 40 years after he started his sound system career, he is not surprised at the global popularity of dancehall culture.

“People love di beat, di music, di lyrics an' di energy. They love it because of di way we present it,” he stated.

Royton Knight became Glamour Wayne in 1980, when he started his career with Afro Tone Disco, while in second form at Kingston College. As a 'freelancer', he worked the Maxfield Avenue dance circuit with other small 'sounds' like Soulville Disco and Star Point Disco before landing a steady gig with Gemini in 1986.

He credits his time with Gemini for establishing what he calls the Glamour Wayne brand.

“Gemini was on the low at di time an' Father Gemini was trying to build it back. People used to sey, 'no way dis likkle youth can bring it back',” he recalled.

Glamour Wayne said he proved the naysayers wrong. Along with fellow selectors Welton Irie and Johnny Ringo, they made Gemini club at Half-Way-Tree Road one of the hottest spots in Kingston on Thursdays.

One of his greatest triumphs came at House Of Leo in February 1990 when he and Gemini defeated Rory and high-riding Stone Love in a well-publicised clash.

Though he made his name in the 1980s and 1990s, Glamour Wayne says he keeps in tune with current trends to stay relevant. His playlist is not time -discriminate.

“Like The O'Jays sey, 'I love music, any kinda music'. I don't stick to the '80s an' '90s. I jus' try an' play everything, I don't limit myself,” he said.

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