Roots Reggae Dub Expo

“The sound…was like a church & political rally gathering all rolled into one. Where one would leave the dance floor feeling blessed & also inspired & motivated to better themselves.” 

-Humble Tafari (Reggae Festival Guide 2011)

On Saturday, August 27, I had the pleasure of attending the my first U.S.A. Roots Reggae Dub Expo, the 2nd annual event, produced by USA Sound Systems & Unity at WorldBeat Cultural Center in San Diego, CA, featuring both East Coast & West Coast Sound Systems! Big Up!

U.S.A Roots Reggae Dub Expo Flier

The roots reggae dub trend supports free souls who  wish to dance, worship, & give thanks to the  creator. The expos have been happening in the  U.S.A. since the 70’s and early 80’s occurring  mostly on the East Coast. What makes it in my  opinion not only a trend but sacred, is the way that  the sound system moves & carries you, & the fact  that the dance coming from Nyabingis, is grounded in a history of dance &  worship.

“What the sound system equipment is, is the sheer force of the sound, the ability to precisely control that sound, & the use of effects to expand the experience & to project the spiritual depth, historical clarification & deeply rooted consciousness within the music.” 

-Peter Lionheart (Reggae Festival Guide 2011)

Word Sound Power is an expression used by Rastafarians to explain the powers of music that they create to worship Jah & manifested through instrumentation, voice, and digital electronics. Historically Rastafarians who migrated from Africa engaged in drumming & dancing processions referred to as Nyabingi to communicate with God & their ancestors. Today, these same type of rituals happen using the technology of the sound system, within a culturally diverse audience. Reggae lovers, peacekeepers, Rastas, “Indians, Africans & Europeans, bald heads & dreadlocks, & turbans” (Lionheart), all gather to fill the joy of church, to release anxiety, to hear the new sound powers, & to sweat and give thanks to Jah Rastafari. Through the speakers and the selector spinning, the singer’s conscious lyrics & vibrational high music, take us back to the roots of Africa to open our bodies, heart, mind, & soul to the reverberating speakers. The nice melody’s coupled with strong audio & dancing bodies is sacredly healing, pleasant,& meditative. Peter Lionheart & Friend

As we gather together & to devote ourselves to the divine through music and dance, the sound system towers above us, speaker, after speaker, after speaker. Dancers jump & run exuberantly towards the system, communicating their prayers, struggles, & hopes via their knee lifts & hand swipes. When roots reggae dub expos were first presented in the 70’s  roots music was booming out of sound systems all over the island, “creating places to celebrate the joys of life despite ghetto tribulation,s & cultivating a spirituality & politically minded generation.” Praise through the sound system keeps ancient African spiritual practice alive, while mixing the genius ideas of selectas & participants from the UK, West Indies, & U.S.A.

Blackheart Warriors Sound System Roots Reggae Dub Expo’s provide  a way or us in this multicultural  society & pluralistic world, to  gather together & to devote  ourselves to the divine in unity  through the love and devotion to  Jah in reggae music. The expo  was a night of peace, community,  prayer & worship to electronically  based music that gathered  participants from many places. It  is a trend that has room to grow, & that leaves its visitors feeling sacredly blessed.

Cherie Hill is a creative artist, dancer, performer, teacher and scholar, whose art explores human expression and how it is conveyed through the body in collaboration with nature, music and visual imagery. She teaches creative dance and modern dance improvisation at Luna Dance Institute, is former Co-Vice President of the Sacred Dance Guild, and a research assistant for Hip-hop dance legend, Rennie Harris. She holds a BA in Dance and Performance studies from UC Berkeley, and a MFA from the University of CO Boulder. To read more about her upcoming projects visit

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Posted in Sacred Dance Trends

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