Summer Jam celebrates dancers, musicians

What started as a birthday celebration nine years ago for Champion Promotions has now turned into one of the biggest entertainment events of the summer – Summer Jam.

Summer Jam has evolved from a small party that drew a select crowd to an established concert event that has attracted hundreds of reggae and dancehall fans from across Grand Cayman.

Taking place on Friday, 26 June at the CIBA Basketball Court off Eastern Avenue, this year’s Summer Jam is introducing a new concept to the annual show, the crowning of ‘The One’ sound clash winner, and welcomes back for the third year the battle for the title of Cayman’s best dance group.

Headlining Summer Jam 2009 is the quick-lipped, lyrically-daring DJ Spice, who was awarded female DJ of the year at the Excellence in Music and Entertainment Awards held this past February in Jamaica.

Speaking on her return to the Cayman Islands, Spice assured that she ‘can’t wait to give a memorable show and great performance.’ The artist has had a very busy schedule in 2009, juggling being a new mother with weekly concert bookings throughout North America and the Caribbean, and the opening of her new boutique, Spicey Couture, which opened in June at the Mall Plaza in Half-Way Tree, Jamaica.

Spice promises to unveil a new twist to her performance with the introduction of her new dance Spin Me Like a Satellite Dish, inspired by her hit song Ramping Shop, a collaboration with Vybz Kartel.

Dance is a big part of Summer Jam, and accompanying Spice on the bill is Jamaica’s ‘Prince of Dance’, Ding Dong. Known for his style, signature moves and signature songs, Ding Dong is a professional dancer- turned-DJ who is regularly featured in music videos and tours throughout the year to perform at concerts.

The hit tune that lingered on international reggae/dancehall charts is Bad Man Forward, Bad Man Pull Up, followed by the smash tunes Wacky Dip and Weddy Time 2. Not only will Ding Dong be performing and working the crowd with his dance swagger, he will also be sitting in as a judge for the crowning of Cayman’s Best Dance Group.

In reggae and dancehall music, dance is considered an outlet and alternative to violence; it is a creative form of expression where dancers can freely enjoy themselves and revel in the party around them.

Oftentimes, even in the clubs on Grand Cayman, the reggae and dancehall nights are highlighted by the various dance crews that come out nightly to dance, while simultaneously entertaining patrons.

The dance competition element of Summer Jam recognises these groups with a prize of $500-$800 in cash and other prizes from Digicel. Organising the dance competition element is Calicia Burke.

Ms Burke structured this year’s dance competition to include four rounds. The first round is called The Jump Off, a two-minute round in which dancers have choreographed a routine to any genre of music they choose. The dancers also get to select the tracks they want for the first round.

In the second round, the Choreographic Scheme, dancers have two minutes to show their routine, and the same music is also provided to each group in advance for the dancers to practice to.

The third round is the Entertainment Round, which consists of the dancers again building their own CD and routine, but this time they are able to use any props they desire, and bring up an additional member of the group to dance in the third round.

The fourth and final round, The Battle, will show the spontaneous versatility of each dance crew as they will be asked to freestyle to random songs chosen by the selecta.

‘I wanted to structure the dance competition segment to showcase the creativity, natural talent and versatility of each dance group,’ said Ms Burke. ‘Dance is such a positive outlet and the three teams competing, Fresh Boyz, Hype Squad, and Xcitement, have been practising for months in anticipation of this competition, so they take it very seriously.’

Events like Summer Jam expose the dancers to opportunities to be able to dance at other stage shows throughout the year, and in music videos for local artists. ‘We want to show how dancing can have a positive effect in one’s life,’ added Ms Burke.

The newest element to Summer Jam is the crowning of ‘The One’ sound clash winner, which sees the musical battle between well-known local sound and radio personality, Super C, and his opponent Killa Force.

Preliminary rounds were held at L.I. Nightclub at Bembe Thursdays and the finals will be held at Summer Jam. Heineken is the sponsor behind the sound clash, and their contribution is assisting the winner in his trip to Fully Loaded, a sound clash taking place in Jamaica this September.

Summer Jam 2009 will take place at the CIBA Basketball Court, beside Cox Lumber, from 9pm. Tickets are $20 presold and $25 at the gate and available at Champion Accessories, Funky Tangs, Reflections, Western Union outlets and J&M Electronics.