How to Dance the Ska

skaaaaaaaaa

We have seen the photographs of Ronnie Nasralla and Jeannette Phillips teaching us to dance the ska, step by step. These guides appeared on the back of various LPs, especially those by Byron Lee & the Dragonaires. But a dig through Daily Gleaner archives this week revealed that these dance steps also appeared in the newspaper in the summer of 1964, and so I post them here for you to see. They are essentially the same as those on the back of the albums, but they are sponsored by Desnoes & Geddes, the brewer of Red Stripe.

First a little background, which I posted earlier this year. Ronnie Nasralla told me how he came to create these dance steps to showcase the ska with Seaga and Byron Lee. “Let me tell you how it started. One day, Eddie Seaga, who was my close friend, called me. Eddie Seaga was friends with my sister. He was my sister’s boyfriend and he used to come by my house and I help him with his political campaign. Advertising was my forte. So I did all the advertising for the government, Eddie Seaga at that time. I help him with all his promotion. He told me he heard a music that was breaking out in Western Kingston called ska and he asked if I could promote it for him, so I said, ‘Well, I’d like to learn about.’ And we organized and I said, well Byron Lee is the best person to promote it. So we get together with Byron Lee down in Western Kingston and I learned the ska music. Eddie organized a dance at the Chocomo Lawn in Western Kingston—it’s an outdoor nightclub. And Byron played there and all the ska artists performed with Byron and it was a sensation. He [Seaga] said to me, ‘Ronnie, move around the crowd and see what they are doing on the dance floor and see if you can come up with a brochure about how to dance the ska. So I did that, saw the people dancing around and came up with a brochure about a week after, how to dance the ska, give them different steps in the ska, and something that they could use to promote ska worldwide. That brochure was used by the government, they put it in all the record albums and it was sent all over the world and I was asked to go to the states and promote the ska with somebody and I got Jannette Phillips to dance with me. Jannette was a dancer, a belly dancer, a friend of my sister. We took pictures doing the different steps and the brochure was produced and given to the government and it was put in all the ska albums,” says Nasralla.

Nasralla had traveled to the U.S. with the group of musicians from Jamaica to promote the ska at the 1964 World’s Fair in New York. You can read more about this visit in my posts here: Ska Ska Ska! Jamaica Ska!

Without further ado, here are the advertisements from the Daily Gleaner, so get ready to put on your dancing shoes!

ska-no-1-june-23-1964

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