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The island dance music

We've been telling stories through the art of dance for centuries

Sometimes, the only way to say it is with dance. We’ve used the way we move to mark special occasions and important events on the island for centuries, and today, it’s a huge part of our culture. Discover what our traditional dance is all about.

Every year, Jamaica comes together and celebrates important events that mark momentous changes in our history. For us, having a party means three things: good food and drink, great people and lastly, the sounds of the good ol’ days for us to move and sway to in remembrance. Sure, we’re a country who has a way with words – just wait until you hear us speak patois – but we firmly understand the saying, ‘a time to dance.’ And for you, a vacation is that time.

Some of our traditional dance music includes Mento, which is a precursor to ska and reggae. It generally features acoustic instruments and the signature mbira, which is a big bass drum you can sit on and play. Ska is also a major musical influence on the rest of the world. It is characterized by a walking bass line, accented with rhythms on the upbeat. So, many of your favorite songs were probably influenced by the Jamaican beat.

Jamaicans dance everywhere and for all occasions - worship, cultural celebrations, social gatherings and even formal events. Traditionally shaped by our European and African influences, Jamaican dance forms have evolved over the years; From early folk rhythms like the “jonkonnu” practiced at Christmas time, to the post-Emancipation “bruckins,” the liberating “ska” of our newly independent nation to the vibrant reggae moves we enjoy on nights out today.