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"Daggering" in Jamaica: A Dance Craze Gone Too Far?

Jamaica Music + Nightlife Entertainment
by Eva Holland Mar 22, 2009
The good folks at the MOJO blog have alerted me to a major music controversy in Jamaica.

THE SPIRALING POPULARITY of “daggering” — a “lewd” dance style with accompanying, explicitly-lyric’d dancehall tunes — has led the Jamaican government to take an unprecedented step: an all-out radio and TV ban on songs and videos with blatantly sexual content.

Here’s the background, from MOJO blogger David Katz:

The storm began brewing when a series of “daggering” hits gained widespread airplay… To the uninitiated, “daggering” is a super-lewd “dance” that leaves little to the imagination, in which groin-locked couples enact rapid-speed dry-humping. “Daggering” dancers basically enact simulated sex, since the term is roughly the Caribbean equivalent to “cabin stabbing.”

(Am I the only one who paused at this point to google “cabin stabbing”? And regretted it?)

Grumbles about the craze were already building, and things came to a climax (har har) when the Vybz Kartel and Spice duet, Rampin Shop, hit #1 on the local charts.

Katz again:

Five days later, the Jamaican Broadcasting Commission took the unprecedented step of banning all songs with explicit sexual content from radio and television, as well as songs that glorify gun violence, murder, rape or arson. The ban is absolute, meaning that such songs can no longer be aired as “clean” versions that make use of “bleeping.”

Responses to the ban have been extremely mixed. Some feel the government’s stance is hypocritical: Given that human rights campaigns have fallen on deaf ears for years, why should it take a bit of dry-humping to bring action?

I’m torn on this one.

On the one hand, I’m never a fan of censorship — and this full-on ban seems to be casting a pretty wide net. Who gets to decide what constitutes “explicit sexual content,” after all? If we let them come for our daggering tunes first, will they be after our Marvin Gaye albums next?

But on the other hand, I do worry about the overly sexualized world kids seem to be inhabiting these days. (I bet there are a lot of young’uns that wouldn’t have had to google “cabin stabbing”…) Jamaican reggae singer Horace Andy is quoted in the MOJO blog post: “I don’t think it’s right to play those kind of lyrics on the radio, cause if you beep it out, the kids still know. My daughter is four years old, and she knows every word of ‘Rampin Shop’.”

Check out a few examples and see for yourself.

Here’s Bragga’s “Dagga Dat”:

And Mr. Vegas, “Daggering”:

Call me desensitized, but they don’t seem much more objectionable than your average rap video. (But of course, just because we allow tracks like “Candy Shop” to play in prime time doesn’t mean Jamaica necessarily should, too…)

What do you think of the “daggering” craze? Harmless or sinister?

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