By Simone Morgan—-
Throughout the 1990s, Lincoln Avenue in Kingston 13, popularly known as Black Roses Corner, was known as the ‘chill spot’ for members of the Black Roses Crew.
Among its members were flamboyant dancers Gerald ‘Bogle’ Levy, David Alexander Smith, popularly known as Ice and self-styled community don William ‘Willie Haggart’ Moore.
Top: Dancer Ice, Bottom: Dancer Gerald “Bogle” Levy
Some of the more popular dance moves like Bogle and World Dance were invented on Black Roses Corner. The ‘corner’ was also the location for several music videos including Barrington Levy’s 1993 hit song Work and Beenie Man’s World Dance in 1995.
Moore, Levy and Smith were shot and killed in 2001, 2005 and 2008, respectively.
Since then, the vibe on Black Roses Corner has changed drastically. When the Jamaica Observer visited on Wednesday, it was a shadow of its former self.
There was barely any movement; the muralsbearing images of Bogle are in need re-painting. Inside a bar, a group of men skip through the pages of an album with photos of the ‘fallen soldiers’ of Black Roses Corner.
“If Bogle was here, the community would have been better as the violence was under control. He would have been able to teach me a lot as it relates to dancing and he would have open up doors of opportunities for me,” 21-year-old dancer Michael Stewart told Splash.
Similar sentiments are echoed by 32 year-old Lonsdale ‘Boysie’ Guy, one of few surviving members of the ‘Roses’.
Boysie, who has been a member since 1997, said while there are persons willing to revive the livelihood once associated with the area, an ongoing gang war has prevented them from doing so.
“It is not really a financial problem that had prevented the activities from continuing, but after Bogle died, the peace died with him,” Boysie told Splash.
“Friends have turn against each other. Ice was trying to bring back the unity but he (Ice) was already caught up in ‘badness’ so he died shortly after,” he added.
According to Guy, Black Roses Corner was not only a hot spot for music videos, entertainers and dancers. It attracted tourists as well.
“The corner was aiming to be like Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood. We started with the planting of palm trees and flowers. A lot of local celebrities used to hang out there and it attracted a lot of females,” he recalled.
“Bogle was full of style and Willie Haggart had the cash, so everyone was happy and the place was violence-free.”
Guy said there are still promising dancers in the area, but internal friction has stalled their progress.
“Some of them don’t create their moves on the corner anymore as they are sometimes scared,” he said.
The violence, however, has not prevented Lincoln Avenue from hosting the annual Willie Haggart’s memorial street dance on April 18.
“Bogle was a man of the streets and was known by a lot of people so his memorial is held at another location in Kingston in order to attract all the outsiders who loved the dancer,” Boysie said.
Is any attempt being made to cease the gunfire which has made Black Roses Corner a ghost town?
Boysie is not sure.
“I wouldn’t want to be the one to hold a peace dance or anything out of fear that it will not go as planned,” he said. “If the councillor or MP (member of parliament) should arrange one I would participate.”