In dancehall, music and moves are inseparable

In Jamaica, dancehall is an entire subculture formed around a street dance style – and dominated by men. In Finland, the opposite holds true: it is mainly women who dance and are responsible for bringing new trends from Jamaica to the country. Bubblin Crew, consisting of some of the most active Finnish dancers, joined Nopsajalka on the Rentolava stage in Ilosaari.

In Finland, dancehall is still an exotic newcomer: sometimes even those who are closely involved with it do not fully understand that it is an entire culture”, explains Meri-Tuuli Hirvonen, the founder of Bubblin’ Crew. “We have started working closely with musicians, and inviting them to our workshops, for example. This is opening up new avenues for the whole Finnish dancehall scene.”

We have realized that we need to introduce dancehall to Finns gradually. So right now we are kind of background dancers for various singers and groups, even if that would not be part of dancehall culture in Jamaica. But here people may still think this is just about skimpily clad women shaking their ass. In reality, dancehall is about interpreting lyrics, the dancehall queen madness is just a small part of it. And we train hard several times a week.”

The Bubblin’ Crew consists of seven women, of which Meri-Tuuli and three others, Netta Puustinen, Maria Pukki and Wilma Saartokoski came to Ilosaari. “There is a real festival vibe here, and the audience reacted to us very well”, they explain. “But the really big thing in this country are the reggae artists and groups singing in Finnish. Next, we hope to win over their audience.” In the nearer future, though, the dancers are off to enjoy the Ilosaari festival. “French Films, Children of Bodom, Black Star…”, they list their plans.

Text: Tuulia Nieminen
Photo: Tuukka Pakarinen

Aihe(et): In English, Spesiaaliohjelma.