There’s a variety of parties in Jamaica. We mostly went to “bush parties” because we were staying in the mountains, not an urban area. In the towns with the big hotels you can find clubs similar to those in the Western world with fancy cocktails, shiny chairs and tables, smart dress codes and entry fees, but I didn’t go to them.
The parties we went to were held at local bars which are kind of wooden huts on a small grass slope, so the party mainly happens outside on the grass because the actual bars can only fit about 10 people in them sometimes.
It’s weird because you’d be driving along past complete darkness, just trees etc, and then suddenly in the middle of nowhere a bar appears with loud music and people dancing on grass. I wish they had these parties in the English countryside too!
Anyway, one of the great things about Jamaican clubs/parties is that when you buy alcohol, you actually buy a bottle of spirit and a bottle of mixer from the bar, unlike in England where you’re just paying for one small shot of spirit and some mixer. A “flask” (35cl) of rum or vodka etc costs around 600 jamaican dollars which is 6 US dollars (in the country parties at least), and then the mixer is about 150JMD. This is amazing because it’s cheap, you can pick your own proportions of spirit to mixer, and you don’t have to keep going back to the bar.
I mentioned before how one of the reasons I came to Jamaica was because I love dancehall music. I wasn’t let down! The parties normally start off with reggae, so people just start drinking and don’t go crazy yet or dance much. Once it gets to about midnight or half past, the music gets faster and the dancehall starts (and I immediately jump up from where I’m sitting).
I’m used to music being played from big expensive sound systems with complicated DJ equipment, but normally at these parties, the music comes from a car CD player that’s parked on the grass with one speaker attached to it sitting on the top of the car. It’s obviously really basic but nothing else is needed – the atmosphere is amazing.
Obviously I don’t know who’s reading this and whether or not you’re familiar with dancehall culture, so I’ll assume you’re not just in case. I can’t explain it all now but basically it has a really good beat for dancing to, the lyrics are normally very sexual/explicit, and some cheeky dancing goes down.
The dancing is called whining (when a girl wiggles her bum in time to the music and a guy is standing right behind her maybe with his hands on her hips and he’s enjoying the physical contact around his waist area)!! A more violent/intense form of whining is called daggering, where the guy and girl basically thrust really hard in time to the music and the girl bends over.
It might sound disgusting if you don’t know about the culture, but it’s just part of the dancehall scene really. (Not everyone daggers but most people will happily whine on a guy). This is the same thing that happens at the Caribbean places I go to in London so I joined in straight away:
Needless to say we were the only white people at all these parties, because normally tourists go to the expensive places. The people at the parties don’t normally hang out with foreign people, and when they do see white girls they’re not often singing along to every word of every Jamaican song that’s being played, so I was kind of a novelty to them.
The fact that I was such a novelty and clearly down for joining in with everything meant that all the guys wanted to dance with me, so I was basically passed around because they all wanted to give each other a go with this Jamaica-loving white girl. In England I wouldn’t have allowed it but I figured it didn’t matter cos I was on holiday. One guy kept videoing me being daggered by his friends, so I’m probably on youtube somewhere, but oh well.