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Dancehall songs in particular are sung in English patois or mixed with Spanish.
With the combination of local and internationally produced tunes, there is never lack of a good reggae party in Costa Rica.
Kartel’s “Bike Back” has Costa Rican dropping it to the floor and slow wining to the top while Chuck Fenda on the Passion Riddim has youth with pelo rasta (dreadlocks, or more literally, “rasta hair”) putting “lightas inna di air” on the DJ’s command.
Images of Bob Marley, Marcus Garvey, and Haile Selassie adorn the walls of restaurants and barber shops.
The ability to play both selector and MC is a must for any DJ with clout down there.
Inside reggae night at club Bongos, San Jose, Costa Rica Reggae music and dance is for fun and entertainment, but it is also a means of survival.
Far from most tourists’ radars, the Caribbean coastal province Limón is home to a deep-rooted Jamaican culture, the fruits of which continue to thrive today.
Before the Internet, people transferred music the old school way… Being that Puerto Limón is a port city, cruise and cargo ships dock there, and workers on ships who went to Jamaica would bring back cassettes for their friends and family. DJs were able to set up reggae nights at various bars and clubs on the Caribbean coast.“It looked like Sunsplash every Sunday afternoon, completely full,” he says.Events like these gave Acon his name and encouraged the expansion of Costa Rica’s reggae scene.Afro-Caribbean people in Costa Rica were denied citizenship and prohibited from traveling outside of Limón until 1949.From then until today, Limón and its people have been among the nation’s most neglected. This has given Limón a partially true reputation as being plagued with drug violence and an exaggerated and racist interpretation of its people as all being gun toting narco-traffickers.Mento, often mistakenly referred to as calypso, was the dominant music form when many workers arrived, with workers making songs about daily life and labor.As reggae developed in Jamaica, a strong demand for this music emerged in a Caribbean community hungry to continue their music traditions.Today, people who carry Jamaican heritage continue to cook Caribbean food and speak English patois, some not learning Spanish until elementary school.Though they are Tico (the local term for Costa Rican) and proud, they are also prideful of Caribbean culture, especially music and dance.Acon is talking about Costa Rica’s Afro-Caribbean population, the descendents of Jamaican laborers who came to Costa Rica beginning in 1871 to construct a railroad connecting the Caribbean coast to the Pacific.After the railroad was finished, they stayed on to work banana plantations, while more Jamaicans immigrated until the late 1940s, also to work in this industry.