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RIP Mr Bogle - 6th year anniversary

January 20th 2011 marks the 6th year anniversary of one of dancehall's most influential figures ever. Nah, scratch that, in popular music culture. Gerald Levy known to everybody as Mr Bogle (or Mr Wacky or simply Bogle) took dancing to astronomical heights. Not sure how his name came about but Jamaica National Hero Paul Bogle obviously influenced it in some way.

Dancing is almost as necessary as the thumping riddims that serve as the soundtrack on the dance floors. To quote Serani (when I interviewed him) "Our music is called dancehall so it’s very, very, very influential. Without the dancing, our parties aren’t good. Whether it’s a new dance that we are doing or just moving and dancing, our music is no good. It has a strong influence" Although his presence wasn't felt vocally on record in the dance until shortly before his death, the dance moves were omnipresent. When you think of Jamaican dances what are the first ones that spring to mind? Bet I can tell you two:

Willie Bounce

Mr Bogle named the dance Willie Bounce in memory of his friend Wille Haggheart (can't remember his real name). If my memory serves me correctly this was created in '04. How ironic is it that Bogle was later gunned down at a petrol station after a party and it became the tribute dance for him?

Elephant Man 'Willie Bounce'

Voicemail & Ding Dong 'Wacky Dip'


The signature dance move of 90's dancehall. Everybody has tried this dance. I think this was created in either '91 or '92. It is the first dance I ever learned. I have a video of a house party from '92 in Jamaica where we were all bussin' it 'cos it was the freshest dance that year. That year shaped my life in terms of dancing. It has always been in me to keep up with the dances.

When Rihanna's 'Rude Boy' plays in the dance, what do you see people do? Either whining or the Bogle dance

How many remembered it in Mariah Carey's 1993 smash-hit 'Dreamlover'? This is the "butter-wouldn't-melt-in-mouth big, big diva" Mariah Carey time Mariah. Not the "how little can I wear 'cos I'm desperate to sell records" Mariah,

Skip to 3:10 if you don't like the song

Not only were his dances catchy, creative and easy enough to replicate (to an alright standard unless you're Bogle in disguise a.k.a ME!), as with most Jamaicans in the public eye, Bogle had an abundance of charisma, flair and individuality. He exuded exuberance unrivaled by his peers (thought I'd throw in a smart sentence). To sum it up in one word I'll use a cliché, misused one in the proper sense: swagger. Something that was evident through his dancing.

In my personal opinion Bogle can claim all the dances purely for influencing all the other dancers John Hype, Ice, Overmarz, Ding Dong, Sadiki, Mundo, Black Bling... People from as far as Japan go to Jamaica to book dance crews due to the lane Father Bogle created for them. Artists like Buju Banton, Beenie Man and Elephant Man got hits off the back of his dances. Voicemail launched their career from his dances. Would Soulja Boy and them have done the same without Jamaicans before them?

To think he got killed as the jiggy period was kicking hard and the dancing aspect rejuvenated.

Chris Brown, Omarion, Usher and them can dance, yes, but how many dances have you seen them create? Then ask yourself how many of those have been replicated worldwide? Many of us have (unknowingly) tried to dance like Father Bogle. Bogle didn't have the money for promotion put into him so to go from grassroots street dances in Jamaica to choreography in big budget videos by non-Jamaican superstars and stage performances for most reggae-ish performances is an amazing feat. One not many can boast.

Chris Brown does Willie Bounce at Hot 97's On Da Reggae Tip in New York 2007

Even when the subject of dances got slightly silly and lacking creative foundations, it was all about fun, using mundane activities such as swimming, playing instruments and shooting 3-pointers with your head look as creative as possible all while competing against each other to see who's best. It's just fun. Not to be taken too seriously.

Other Mr Bogle dances

World Dance and Tatty were the dances of '94. Once again, I was in Jamaica that year

Beenie Man 'World Dance'

Keiva the Diva doing Jerry Springer

Zip it up as seen on Foxy Brown's 'Tables Will Turn' (check the Bogle cameo)

Row di boat as seen on Sean Paul's '04 summer sizzler 'Like Glue'

Card Unit 'Mr Bogle tribute' routine

CNN document the impact of dancing on popular culture

As the choreographer pointed out, dancehall moves are unconventional. It isn't simply 1-2-3-4, sometimes, especially during the jiggy period it was 1-2-3-rest or 1-rest-3-4 because like the music, it isn't structured like most other genres. It's all about freedom of expression. As music should be.

Can't forget the phrases that crossed over into regular slang: "Fashion ova style," "Style ah style ah style cyaa spoil" "Eeeeeeh? Alie!" "Dem say ah dem but ah we!"

All dem deh, where all dem deh did deh?

Arguably the real King of the Dancehall



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