Passa Passa Kingston Jamaica
Every week, on Wednesday night, Spanish Town Road in the Tivoli Gardens area of Kingston, Jamaica, transforms into Passa Passa. Thousands of people gather to dance to music for free, outdoors and as loud as possible. To get a sense of why this weekly dance is not your average party, it’s important to take a look at exactly where it happens—yes, Jamaica in general is important to reggae, but West Kingston, an area notorious for violence, is specifically important to dancehall. Though many of dancehall’s biggest stars hail from neighbourhoods in West Kingston, it’s still known as a dangerous place.
Passa Passa began a few years ago in the downtown slums of Kingston, Jamaica. It became fashionable with more affluent Jamaicans, transforming the weekly events into a symbolic show of social unity. People wear any amount of jewellery without fear. The area is controlled by a crime boss known as “The President”. So far there haven’t been violent incidents at Passa Passa. It’s not that folks aren’t armed. But there is an unwritten rule that because “The President” has sanctioned the party, order must be kept. Most agree that Passa Passa is contributing to something west Kingston hasn’t had for years: peace.