Book Report – Inna Di Dancehall

Hope, paid homage to the lower-class inner city people of Jamaica. She gave them a voice as she explored the issues about danceable as related to the Jamaican society. Hope discussed the historical setting and definition of danceable, sex and gender, violence and identity in the danceable. The author used this forum to bring to life the perceived unknown truths about the danceable culture in Jamaica. Throughout the book, the theme of rudeness was explored. Hope linked “rudeness” to Jamaican culture and in essence showed how rudeness” is a part of Caribbean civilization.

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Rudeness can be seen as vulgar behavior or otherwise known as “slackness”. In the Caribbean, “slackness”, refers to violence, promiscuity and anti-homosexual sentiments which are similar to the culture of Jamaica. Is Jamaican rudeness an excuse for “culture” or is it Just rudeness? To answer this question, one needs to delve into the history of Jamaican society and understand how rudeness may or may not relate to culture. As well as, how the popular music, danceable, may play a part in developing “rudeness” as a component of culture.

In the book, Nina did Danceable, the author, Hope, listed the various factors which helped the formation of the popular form of music culture. Such factors were “the fall-out of Jamaican experiment with structural adjustment; the rise of free market capitalism; increasing arbitration; rising political violence; a growing ideological convergence between the People’s National Party (PAN) and the Jamaica Labor Party LOP); the explosion of Jamaican informal economy and ongoing transformations in the class/ status hierarchy, particularly among the middle strata” (1).

Some of these factors created tension in society and through music, the people in society were able to release this built up frustration. According to Hope “danceable culture is a space for the cultural creation and dissemination of symbols and ideologies that reflect and legitimate the lived realities of its adherents, particularly those from the inner cities of Jamaica” (27). Danceable enabled the society to openly voice their concerns and highlight the struggles of everyday life. As such, one can say that Jamaican rudeness is an excuse for culture.

If danceable music reflects the everyday life of the lower class society, which is gun violence, promiscuity and hardships of the masses, elements of “rudeness”, and danceable music is part of the Jamaican culture, hence, “rudeness” is Jamaican culture. On the other hand, Jamaican “rudeness” has a negative connotation as it deals with negative activities in society. One should not sensationalist illegal activities such as gun violence and discrimination against homosexuals. The author’s aim was to shed light on the different aspects of danceable and show how danceable music fleets the lower-class society in Jamaica.

However, in doing so, the author provided an excuse for the high crime rate, gun violence, debase behavior of women and discrimination against homosexuals. The author used this forum to explicitly say that this “rudeness” is a part of culture and should be accepted and therefore sensationalists a topic that has no merit. This behavior should not be accepted and measures should be put in place to curb illegal activities. Should be able to make a decision on what type of literature to read or be exposed to.

However, based on the circumstances, the purpose of studying Caribbean Civilization is to understand the Caribbean society and one way of doing this is reading different literatures from the Caribbean. Nina did Danceable exposed the Caribbean and the wider world to the danceable culture of Jamaica. It’s important as a Caribbean person to know and understand the different cultures of the Caribbean. This book, gave a real representation of the lower-class society of Jamaica through danceable. However, it didn’t paint the full picture of the Jamaican culture.

It pulled out the negative aspect of Jamaican culture and glorified it. Should one be exposed to the glorification of illegal activities? No. However, one should be made aware of all aspects of one’s culture whether be it negative or positive. Reading literatures of other cultures broadens one’s perspective on the ways of life of many people. It enables one to have a holistic view on life and treat others from different backgrounds with respect. According to the Peace Corps Cross-cultural Workbook, “… By knowing people’s values and beliefs, you can come to expect and predict their behavior…

Moreover, once you accept that people behave the way they do for a reason… You can go beyond simply reacting to that behavior and figure out how to work with it” (5). As a result, using Nina did Danceable in Caribbean Civilization has meaning as it enhances the course by cultural differentiation. It’s a great book as it would enable discussions on class/ color/ status hierarchy in society. Hope clearly discussed the differences in social classes in Jamaica. This was a main topic in this course as the Caribbean continues with this social structure from slavery.

Trinidad and Tobago can definitely benefit from the propagation of this type of “reading”. Our society can learn about the danceable culture, understand how it came about and the true meaning behind danceable. This type of reading would allow our society to be able to differentiate our culture from Jamaica. It would also encourage patriotism, as local writers would be encouraged to write about our culture for the world to read. However, this reading may as well not benefit society. This type of “reading” may encourage similar types of behavior to be patterned in our society.

Youths in society may read this book and may not capture the real essence of the book. They may try to emulate their danceable idols and adopt behaviors and attitudes that are not accepted in society. However, Hope formatted Nina did Danceable cleverly as it was easy to read. In each chapter there were sub-sections which allowed the reader to understand each aspect of the danceable culture. The headings played a key role as it made it clear as to what was going to be discussed. The pictures used in the book in some instances were quite vulgar and degraded women but captured the idea that was being put cross.

It didn’t make the book more appealing; ironically, it made the book less appealing which may not have been the author’s purpose. In conclusion, Nina did Danceable would not have been a first choice book for reading; however, it served the purpose for this course. It highlighted aspects of Jamaican culture, danceable and showed its relevance to Caribbean society as it dealt with some Caribbean issues such as class/ race/ status hierarchy. Hope, Donna P. Nina did Danceable. Kingston: University of the West Indies Press, “Culture Matters”. Peace Corps. N. P, n. D. Web. 24 October, 2012. 2006. Pent. •

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