Sound System Performances and the Localization of Dancehall in Finland


  • Kim Ramstedt Åbo Akademi University, IASPM Nordic Branch



dancehall, Finland, Jamaica, localization, performance, reggae


This study examines how the particular performance practices associated with reggae music have contributed to the localization of dancehall culture in Finland. At the core of this culture lies the concept of the sound system, which, in addition to a DJ, includes a master of ceremonies, or MC, who during a performance, in various ways, interacts with the audience. This article is especially concerned with how Finnish sound systems localize through their performances a particular understanding of reggae as a genre in Finland, and promote reggae as what I define as the dancehall continuum. Theoretically, this study draws on the study of folklore as performance and sociological genre theory. The empirical material consists of interviews with sound system operators and discussions on an Internet message board. Additionally, a close reading of the written history of reggae is conducted. The study shows that Finnish sound systems do not only act as intermediaries of Jamaican music, but engage the local audience in the creation of a particular adaptation of dancehall culture in Finland.


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