Bogle Man with the moves
Bogle (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

The Jamaica Observer's Entertainment Desk continues with the 51st of its biweekly feature looking at seminal moments that have helped shape Jamaica over the past 60 years.

Dancing is synonymous with hip music. The big band sound had Gene Kelly and the Nicholas Brothers, disco's hero was John Travolta while hip hop moved to Shabba-Doo.

In Jamaica, Gerald "Bogle" Levy was the king of dancehall.

He was not the first dancer to make an impact on Jamaican pop culture. There was the 'legs man' of the 1950s and 1960s but none were as innovative as Bogle whose rise coincided with the mainstream acceptance of dancehall music in the 1990s.

Slick choreography and ghetto fabulous fashions made him a bona fide star. The biggest artistes in dancehall wanted him in their music videos, including Beenie Man (World Dance) and Barrington Levy (Every Posse Must Work). He was immortalised in Buju Banton's Bogle.

Bogle was a member of the Black Roses Crew, a flamboyant bunch out of Trench Town led by William "Willie Haggart" Moore. Their gothic style and hard partying lifestyle made them one of the 1990's marquee attractions.

In one of his last interviews, with the Str8 From Yard show, Bogle addressed the significance of dancing to underground music going mainstream.

"Most people, where dancing thing is concerned right now, nuff people can dance, yes, but a nuh everybody a dancer, my yute. Yuh cyaan deejay an' expect it fi cross over, yuh haffi deejay an' dance to cross over. In America, dem don't sing unless dem dance. A years wi a teach dem dat a Jamaica an' is like dem jus' realise dat, an' all up to now dem still don't put it together because dem a call di dancer dem name an dem still naah use di dancer dem," he stated.

On January 19, 2005, Bogle was murdered at a gas station in Kingston shortly after leaving the popular Weddy Weddy dance. He was 40 years old.

The Jamaican entertainment scene had lost a singular talent. For over 10 years, Bogle ran the dancehall scene with a number of signature moves including The Bogle, Willie Bounce, Jerry Springer and Urkle.

He set the pace for younger inner-city dancers including John Hype, Ice, Shelly Belly, and Ding Dong. His influence was not restricted to Jamaica, as Bogle was in demand for shows in North America, Europe and Japan.

In September 2013, the Dancehall Saturdaze event in Helsinki, Finland, hosted a "Tribute to Father Bogle, the greatest dancer in dancehall". In the video for her 2009 hit song Rude Boy, Rihanna performed The Bogle.

In the year before his death, Bogle branched out as a recording artiste. He had hit songs with Weh di Time (alongside Delly Ranks and Voicemail) and All dem Deh.

His funeral service drew hundreds of admirers to Black Roses Corner (off Rousseau Road in Kingston) with a procession of flashy vehicles and mourners decked out in risque costumes. It was a send-off fit for a king. King Bogle.

Bogle (Photo: Observer file)
Howard Campbell

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