Recently I read an interesting article published in a local newspaper about the infamous Black Roses Crew. It was reminiscent of the 90s, the fun and excitement as well as the demise of some who impacted many lives both positively and negatively. The Black Roses crew reigned througout the 1990s on Lincoln Avenue in Kingston, popularly known as the Black Roses Corner. Among its members were what the article described as the, 'flamboyant dancers Gerald 'Bogle' Levy and David Alexander Smith also known as 'Ice.'
Written by Simone Morgan, the theme was centred around the crew's colourful lifestyle and entertainment. The Black Roses Corner formed the backdrop of many music videos including Barrington Levy's 1993 hit song entitled, 'Work' which depicted an exciting and work motivated surrounding coupled with Bogle's magical dance moves portrayed by those around him including former community don, Willie Haggart. Another popular video highlighted was Beenie Man's, the King of Dancehall, World Dance in 1995. Both videos ironically demonstrates some of the crew's positive influences on the community as well as the local entertainment industry. Barrington Levy's song was inspiring and the message sent positive for the many inner city youth who admired the crew for their lavish lifestyle and gangsterism.
Black Roses no Longer Blooms
But between 2001 - 2008, Moore, Levy and Smith were shot and killed and since then, the 'Black Roses no Longer Blooms,' the latter was the title of the article. The corner was described as a 'shadow of it's former' outlook. A literally well lit space has become the gloom of an entire community. Community members were reminiscent of the good ole days when, 'violence was under control' and Bogle around to teach dancing to those who appreciated the art form and inspired to become as famous as he was.
Surviving member of the Black Roses crew Boysie, informed the news crew that a lack of finances had not "prevented the activities from continuing," in the community in relations to Dancing. Instead it was the 'peace' he was quoted as saying, that had "died with Bogle." Black Roses Corner then was compared to 'Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood,' it was a place where not only artistes, entertainers and very important people hangout, but also attracted tourists. Bogle had the talent and Willie Haggart had the cash they recalled, but with Bogle and Willie Haggart no longer around, violence erupted sending dancers elsewhere to create their dance moves.
But despite the negative influence and gangsterism that attributed to the demise of the Black Roses crew, they left an indelible mark on entertainment in Jamaica. Historically Bogle and Ice is remembered for their creativity and for popularizing Jamaican dance moves which paved the way and created opportunities for many Dancers in the industry since. Dancing remains a staple in the local dance hall as it had spiralled across the world during their reign. Many where and have been motivated and inspired by these dancers and as such it is indeed sad to declare that 'out of bad comes good.' Had it been another system in place, had there been more positive influences around these people, had their surroundings been more conducive for learning, would there be a 'Bogle or Ice' that the world had come to know? We certainly do not encourage violence or gangsterism, but in reality it is what it is...