ABSTRACT

In the last chapter, we compared and contrasted forms of sacred music and dance from the Dominican Republic and Cuba. In this chapter we turn our attention to two extremely popular yet frequently reviled forms of Caribbean social dance music: Dominican bachata and Jamaican dancehall. Bachata tops Latin music charts in the USA and has a broad following around Latin America; it originated as rural guitar music but became known as the music of the urban poor following the massive urbanization of the 1960s. Dancehall is a highly influential genre that arose as a more hedonistic style of reggae that echoed Jamaica’s economic decline and increasing violence as it moved into the 1980s. Together, they provide illustrative examples of how social dance is a venue for the exploration of new gender roles and relations, while also serving as a focal point for debates about gender and sexuality that are strongly colored by race as well as socioeconomic class.