Held on street corners, in town squares, local rum shops or empty car parks across the island, street dances make up an important part of modern Jamaican culture. Drive anywhere across the island and you are bound to see a brightly decorated sign tacked to a lamp-post or hear a local “town crier” (a car with massive speakers attached to its roof) blaring news of a neighbourhood street dance. Raw, earthy and intensely atmospheric, these (typically free) dances attract huge crowds who dress to impress and come to hear a local sound system spin reggae, dancehall, oldies and other popular hits. In Kingston these street dances are immensely popular with dancehall and reggae aficionados who come to hear the island’s best selectors as well as rub shoulders with the big names in the dancehall fraternity – from dancers who come to “bring out” their latest move to Jamaica’s best-known DJs, who might take to the mic for an impromptu performance.

Your security at a street dance is pretty much guaranteed – anyone foolish enough to ruin everyone’s fun by starting trouble or attempting a robbery will inevitably be swiftly dealt with by irate locals. Nonetheless, it’s obviously sensible to keep your wits about you, leave your valuables at home and, if possible, go with a local escort. Similarly, avoid street dances if there’s been recent trouble in any of the areas – just ask around.

Parties come and go, and every town and village in every parish have their own events (both weekly and occasional) but at the time of writing, the main jams in Kingston were: Early Monday at Savannah Plaza (Constant Spring Road); Cadillac Saturday at Limelight (Half Way Tree); Dubwise on Wednesday (no fixed location, check facebook.com/dubwisejamaica); and Old Hits Sunday (Rae Town). Weddy Wednesdays, staged at Stone Love’s headquarters on Burlington Avenue, is the only regular uptown street dance; the action doesn’t start until the small hours of Wednesday morning, though, and there’s not much point turning up before 1am.

Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners

Jamaica features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

In the footsteps of Bob Marley: a tour of Kingston, Jamaica

Kris Griffiths takes a tour of the birthplace of reggae, following in the footsteps of Jamaica's most famous son, Bob Marley, on what would have been his 70th …

18 Mar 2015 • Kris Griffiths insert_drive_file Article
19 fantastic spots for wild swimming

19 fantastic spots for wild swimming

1. Cenotes X’keken and Samula, Mexico Mexico’s Yucatán peninsula is riddled with cenotes, natural limestone sinkholes that are perfect for wild swimmin…

04 Oct 2013 • Alison Roberts camera_alt Gallery
The best street food around the world

The best street food around the world

Jerk chicken, Jamaica When it comes to jerk chicken, there’s no beating the real deal fresh from a smoky jerk hut. Recipes are closely guarded secrets, but u…

04 Jul 2013 • Eleanor Aldridge camera_alt Gallery
View more featureschevron_right

Weekly newsletter

Sign up now for travel inspiration, discounts and competitions

Sign up now and get 20% off any ebook