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  • Writer's pictureDennis Howard

Funky Kingston

In the 1970s, Jamaica was funk country; it was the dominant music on radio, jukebox, and sound systems called disco (to differentiate them from the roots sound systems), all played more funk, soul and R&B than ska, rocksteady and reggae.

Maxi Clan, one of the premiere dancers of that time, explained it this way to the Jamaica Observer: “Inna di '70s, it was mostly what we called funky. Yuh had one reggae group an' dat was Scorch, everybody else was into funky' — an' dat's what yuh saw on Where It's At.”

There were many funky dance groups that performed at school concerts and stage shows. The annual Christmas concerts at The Carib and Regal theatres all featured dance groups. They included The Shades Dance Group, The Soul Clan Dance Group, Ltd Dance Group, and GQ Dance Group solo acts included Soul James Sky Juice (Metro Media Fame) and Skanker. Kinston was filled with Funky /Disco dance groups, and there were a few songs that all groups used during their performance

here are some of these memorable gems.

Blow Your Whistle - The Soul Searchers

If you used this song, you were on top of the game due to the tempo, the dancing was energetic, and the solos had to be spectacular to elicit excitement from the audience

Do it Till You're Satisfied - BT Express

This was a go-to song for many dance groups, including some of the most popular, but it was also a staple on Miss Lou's Ring Ding and the Dance show Where It's At on JBC Television and on Saturdays

Street Dance - The Fatback Band

Another song that almost all dance groups had a routine, great for solos, this was also a favourite of the skate dancers that were based at Skateland in Half Way Tree. My own upstart dance group, the Black Magic dance group, had a routine to this classic.

We the People - Soul Searchers

This was one of the songs used by the top dance groups, including the Clans, The Shades and Soul James. The amazing arrangement of the song with some great beaks made it a dancer's dream beat for creative and innovative groups to showcase their skills in funk dancing.



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