'Roses never die' ... Black Roses corner attracts tourists
Back in the 1990s, Black Roses corner, which is situated where Lincoln Avenue meets Rousseau Road in St Andrew, was the place for dancers to come together and create or share new styles of the performing arts form.
Gerald 'Bogle' Levy and David 'Ice' Smith of Black Roses crew had many apprentices, including Lonsdale Guy, popularly known as Boysie. The 37-year-old dancer has lived in the community for three-quarters of his life.
Dancers and artistes alike used to link up at Black Roses corner on a daily basis, but what brought most persons together was football not music.
When THE WEEKEND STAR met up with Boysie, the dancer was just wrapping up a dance class a few blocks away at Myrr Villa Road in Kingston. His pupil is a young French woman, who goes by the name Eva.
She found her way to Black Roses corner to participate in a one-on-one three-day intense dance workshop with the dancer. While the music plays, a small group had gathered for a street football match.
"The whole of Jungle (Arnett Gardens), Maxfield Avenue, Kencot, and the surrounding communities just come together for football, and would do so on a daily basis. Violence wasn't a huge problem then, and even with the little uprising here and there, one thing we always do is play football. Football made me meet Bogle and it brings me closer to people in this community," Boysie said.
His mentor, Bogle, and other members of the crew died from violent acts. Boysie is among the few members of the dance crew that remained and raises his own children there.
"If you danced with Bogle or was ever associated with the crew, it more than likely gave you opportunities to travel and spread the culture, whether to perform or teach him open the gate, taking dance to the world."
"Bogle mek it better growing up around here."
Black Roses corner has attracted artistes in the past and still does. The black and white painting of Bogle has not faded beyond recognition and both local and international acts have visited the street to take pictures in front of the wall, which bears the artwork as well as to shoot music videos.
"I believe Ching shot a video on the corner and another international hip-hop artiste was in the area not too long ago."
The inventor of the moves, Wacky Dip, Stukie, Out an' Bad, World Dance, Bogle and many others has had recording artistes like Rihanna doing the dances, as she is seen doing the Bogle in the 2009 single, Rude Boy.
"The younger generation of people living in and around the community doing positive things by keeping events. Everybody just calm, focused on sending children to school, try to live good, and do different things in this millennium."
SPIRIT LIVES ON
Many other tourists come and stay in the area just for a chance to learn about Bogle. According to Boysie, Bogle's spirit still lives on; dance workshops happen almost every day but the people stay for the liveliness.
Once a vibrant area, Black Roses corner has been overshadowed by gloom since the 2001 murder of William 'Willie Haggart' Moore, the leader of the crew, and two of his friends, Ned 'Big Bunny' Hinds and Albert 'Blacka Douche' Bonner, were killed during a drive-by shooting. His death was followed by the murder of Bogle in 2005, and Smith in 2008.
"There's a lot of changes in Arnett Gardens. It is just for people to see. Remember roses never die, just a little water and new flowers bloom."
There are annual events held at Black Roses corner in remembrance of Willie Haggart, and Boysie also hosts a memorial event for Bogle. Also, the neighbouring Myrr Villa Road is the home of Unruly Fridays street dance.
The community is on a mission to carry on the legacy of the Black Roses crew and keep the peace. Football remains the main activity as the residents have plans for the street football game to turn into an every Sunday link-up with a cash prize for winning teams starting this Sunday.
"All that's left to make sure Bogle name is known by the youths is to name the road after him; he has done a lot for the culture even just by carrying the flag pon him back," Boysie said.