Kingston, Jamaica. September 12, 2019
The argument that there is a “war on dancehall” has been going on for decades.
There is no doubt there is a divide among the Political Establishment and the Dancehall Industry. At The Heart of this divide, The Noise Abatement Act of 1997. The law was enacted to protect citizens who argued that the dancehall music was disturbing their sleep. The law is to control noise by amplified sound beyond 100 meters from the source. It sets time limits for all events, which involves loud speakers playing music or loud speech. These events must be “shut off” by midnight on weekdays and 2:00 am on weekends.
There have been varying degrees of enforcement by the police over the years. The Jamaica Observer reported on a specific incident, where a promoter invited a reporter backstage, to witness first-hand, several police officers, demanding bribes, not to lock off the dance.
Lately, there is a new enforcement in the law. There are unconfirmed reports, that the police are confiscating DJs laptops and other expensive equipment, and destroying properties, in the process.
Many celebrities, politicians and ordinary citizens speaking publicly about this hot button issue. Prime Minister Holness spoke on the issue saying in part,” It could never be the intention of the government, to in any way stifle the culture, which is necessary for development of our people”. He continued, “We hear the cries of the entertainment community. We hear the cries of the dancehall community. We hears the cries of the artists, the entertainers and the sound system operators. But as the society evolves, as the society grows we must find a consensus on order”.
According to reports, a meeting was held at popular dancehall location in Kingston, between the police and dancehall community on Tuesday, September 10, 2019 to discuss a path forward. The discussion was moderated by author, Michael Dawson. Also in attendance was Ricky Trooper, Dancehall Queen Carlene, Professor Donna Hope, TV Personality Winford Williams, along with Promoters, Dancers, Club/ Bar Owners and other interested individuals.
Members of the dancehall community reportedly expressed frustration that politicians over the years have failed to address the issue. There have been lots of empty promises and no real meaningful Change. The consensus coming out of the meeting was that (1) there is an Overwhelming need to unite, all the separate entities that depend on The Dancehall Industry. (2) There's a need to create an organization that can form a lobbying group, in which to advocate for the protection everyone involves, from the big promoters to peanut vendors.
Prime Minister Andrew Holness says, however, that he spoke to Minister of Culture, Gender, Entertainment and Sport Olivia "Babsy" Grange about allocating special entertainment zones where dancehall can go on from dust until dawn. These zones will have security, parking and all amenities needed to accommodate the dancehall culture.