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Meet the artist revolutionising dancehall music

DANCE KING: Ding Dong is revolutionising the dancehall experience

IT IS NO secret that the way to a dancehall crowd’s heart is through the hype that can be generated by the grassroots dancers – the ones that pop style from night to night and create magic that travels around the world before getting adopted by the masses.

They literally run the dances across Jamaica, and ultimately across the dancehall world.
Step forward Kemar Ottey, aka Ding Dong. Dancer, recording artist and giant dancehall personality, Ding is definitely one of the characters that makes this music so special.

CREW

He is the founder of Ravers Clavers dancing crew, and dancehall generals will remember him from his big 2006 hit, ‘Bad Man Forward, Bad Man Pull Up’. He was dancing before he recorded that, so he is a veteran in this game.

With an impressive CV that boasts the creation of dances such as Badda Dance, Chaka Chaka, Go Away, Santa Bounce, Sunlight, Part The Crowd, Swing Song, Bad Man Forward, Sweep, Oh My Swing, ABC Fast Or Slow, Sashi Cool, Summa Swing, Pree Dem, Syvah and Shampoo, his credentials in the dancing market cannot be questioned.

His performance on the recent ‘Shaggy and Friends’ show in Jamaica brought him to the prominence of an even bigger international following, and I caught up with him a few days later.

“That show was one of the best put together and run events in Jamaica for a long time,” he tells me down the line from Kingston. “This was my third performance on this show – I had
already performed alongside Boyz II Men and another time with Ashanti (the special guests this year included Sting and Wyclef). I think I am the only person who has performed on three separate occasions.”


GOOD TIMES: Ding Dong

The benefactor of the show was the Bustamante Hospital For Children in Kingston – a cause which Shaggy has graciously supported for a number of years and that also has special significance to Ding Dong.

“I live right near the hospital – I grew up near there, too, and used to go there when I was a child. The condition of the hospital was bad, and they never had any money to renovate it,” he says.

“When Shaggy took up the cause you can only big him up and give him so much respect and ratings because the work he is doing is legendary.” Ding Dong is hot in the streets right now.

One of his latest tracks, Fling has been getting serious plays in the clubs and on the radio across the board, and the latest video for Dweet on the Genna Bounce label dropped last week.

He is very much a man in demand in the recording booth, but he has not left his dancing roots. “Big up all the other dancers, but Ravers Clavers have been instrumental in making the movement widely accepted across Jamaican households,” says Ding proudly.

“Right now, Kingston is the capital of tourism in Jamaica, because of the dance movement. People from all over the world are coming over to experience the real, authentic thing.
“Nowhere else has what we have right here.”

Every night is party night in Kingston, and he went on to list places you can visit each night in Jamaica’s capital. “You have Bounty Sundays, then Uptown Mondays, Boasy Tuesday, Weddy Weddy Wednesday and Triple Thursday. On Fridays you can go to Yeng Yeng Friday, which is my event, and on Saturday you have British Saturday – and that is just some of them,” he says.

MOVEMENT

It is no surprise then that some of the biggest tunes have benefitted from the platforms available to them across the week in the epicentre of the culture. “We have to make sure that the tracks can start in the dancehalls, and translate into everyday people’s lives,” says Ding.


PICTURED: Ravers Clavers

“Not everyone goes to dances, so we have to make sure we can get to them, and that means the marketing and promotion of the tracks has to be on point. There is a lot of music in Jamaica, so we need to make sure everything is lined up to make the songs last longer in the market.”

It is refreshing to hear him openly speak out about the way the music is projected to the consumers.

So what should we be looking out for next from Ding Dong?

“The next dance which will take over the place is The Flairy – if you think you danced a lot in 2017, wait ‘til 2018 comes through...we have nuff dances lined up for you,” he says. People like Ding Dong are the lifeblood of what we do. It’s great to see his upward movements, and I salute him and all the dancers in the streets that keep this thing moving.

He is lining up and preparing to come over to test the skills of the UK crew, with a performance alongside Spice in London on Good Friday – March 30 – so get your dancing shoes on...

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