The dance halls in London were almost pitch black except for the ambient lighting used around the sides and ceilings for ambiance and effects and that tiny lamp illuminating the sound system turn table. As you walk into the dancehall, that heavy drum and base would hit you with music like “Jah live… children yea… Jah Jah live…” The rhythm was so nice it made you want to “bubble” all night. But the music would have been even sweeter if you were fortunate enough to be locking horns with a sweet partner doing the Rub-a-dub. Trust me… locking horns was precisely what it looked like. I’m not going to go in to the intricate details of the dance but you’ve seen those couples on the reggae dance floor, frozen in place, chin to chin, or head to head locked in a pose that look more like an art exhibit than two people dancing. When the DJ switched up the music and start to do a lovers rock session with music like “I just can’t figure out….” or “Gee baby… I don’t wan-a-cry over you anymore…” you just had to find a partner. The protocol for getting-a-dance was very well rehearsed by the young ravers; you would grab the girls harm, not too tight but not too light either because she might see you as too rough or not rough enough, a sign of weakness. You’ll know you have the prize when she turns to you and offer her hand. You would then put your strongest harm around her waist for very good reasons, no seat belt allowed here, success will depend on how you control here during the dance and a strong harm will help. Technically speaking, this is not a rodeo but if you have some experience in that area, then it would give you a head start because the rub-a-dub dance can get a little rough.

Well at this point you ask her for a dance and she accepted so depending on how much your heights match, you would just lock your foreheads or chin together and start doing the rub-a-dub. That’s it, you’re doing the rub-a-dub. I’m sure “dirty dancing” was first choreographed in these packed reggae night clubs as a matter of necessity; because if you were lucky enough to “pull a gal” fi-a-dance and she accepted, you couldn’t do anything else but to lock horns, stand perfectly still and do-u-ting for the duration of the song. You didn’t have enough space around you to do anything else but the “rub-a-dub”. The dance floor was so packed and dark that your first chance of getting to see what your partner looks like would be when you both emerge from what I would describe as a dark dungeon. The push and shoving that you would endure during the dance were all part of the experience of doing rub-a-dub. So you got lucky! Well! You and your new found partner get to go at it for a full three and a half minutes until the record ended or one of you, usually the girl, push the other away for want of a better term, being too over enthusiastic with the rub-a-dub. “Ooh…yeah, that was normal”, because doing that dance was serious business, if you couldn’t get your timing right then you just got “pushed-wae”, that simple! You didn’t have much time to show off your stuff, or you lose the chance to get that phone number at the end of the night. Don’t even “bada-fi-ask”, if you couldn’t handle the rub-a-dub.

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Posted in UK highlights.