Some would consider Dancehall to the most popular music in Jamaica. It began in the late 1970s and has now impacted all different types of musical genres worldwide. Initially Dancehall was a more sparse version of Reggae than the roots style, which had dominated much of the 1970s.
The style was named this way because of the clubs where people used to hang out. Those clubs were popular known as dance halls. It was there, in the ghetto parties, where female dance turned into competitions.
During the 90’s, that ‘battles’ finally became into an official tournament called Dancehall Queen, which nowadays has a lot of prestige. Just one girl can be crowned as the winner and the Dancehall Queen. The whole Dancehall Queen world inspired Rick Elgood and Don Letts, who directed the homonym film in the late 90’s.
Audrey Reid plays Marcia, a street vendor who is struggling to raise her daughters. She is a single mom scraping by even with a financial assist from the seemingly avuncular Larry (Carl Davis), a gun-toting strongman with a twisted desire for Marcia’s teenage daughter Tanya.
Marcia is surrounded by many problems apart from the financial ones. In the end,she has an inspiring solution: developing an alter ego, a dancing celebrity called the Mystery Lady, who can compete in a cash-prize contest.
The film shows the Dancehall Jamaican world, the prestige of being Dancehall Queen, but also the society problems of many Jamaican cities and towns: poverty, criminal gangs and sexual abuse.
By the early 2000s, Dancehall inspired pop music and gained a lot of popularity in Jamaica, as well as in the United States and other international markets. Artists like Sean Paul had an essential role to complete the Dancehall expansion. Several hip-hop and R&B artists have also released material inspired by Dancehall music, including Drake, Rihanna or Major Lazer.