The 2007 DHQ title was won by Caribbean Queen DESTHY.. Hailing from Guadeloupe, Desthy was a fixture on the Sydney Dancehall scene in the 00’s until relocating to the beautiful tropical paradise of New Caledonia. We caught up with her to ask her some questions about being Australia’s official Dancehall Queen.

What is you stage name? Desthy And in what year did you win the DHQK title? In 2007

Can you describe a bit about the competition the year you won?
The event was held at The Equilibrium Club – World Square in Sydney. The Judges were two Jamaican born Selecta and one girl Maya Jupiter (who had local TV show at the time, and was a big dancehall fan that had just come back from a trip to Jamaica!!) The competitors were all crazy dancehall enthusiasts that have been working on their moves and practiced their style, as the organisers had sent to all of us the rules and the types of performance and qualities the judges would be looking at for each participant.

Can you describe a little bit about your dance history?
I literally could dance before I could walk from the stories my family tell me: I’m the youngest child of a big family of 10 kids. Growing up in Guadeloupe, there was always Caribbean music pumping around all day every day, so I grew up dancing to Soca, Zouk, traditional African, merengue, salsa, reggae, dancehall, and many other genre available at the time. We were always dancing at family gatherings and all I wanted was to be a professional dancer. But my father hated this idea and insisted that I focus on education. I kept dancing everyday because it was vital to me! Dancehall music became my favorite rhythm to dance to as it created different set of feelings inside me and thanks to one of my neighbors constantly playing new tunes from Jamaica I was always inspired and blown away by artists like Buju Banton, Shaba Ranks, Yelloman, Chaka Demus, Sizzla, Capleton. My favorites song were: « Limb by Limb » by Cutty Ranks, « Bogling Queen » by Simple Simon and Sista Smurf.
At the time there was no internet, and I had no way of knowing whether the steps I performed were up to date or not. Between the age of 12 and 17, I performed in a little Caribbean Dance Crew created by my cousin and then I left the Caribbean to study in Paris then to work in London and around the world. In London used to go out clubbing often in a little reggae club and thanks to one of my Jamaican friends, I had access the latest music and moves.
Then when I arrived in Sydney in 2005, out of magic I’ve found out about reggae events the same week!!! I made friends out of reggae dancehall enthusiasts there and between 2005 and 2007 you would always find me at all Dancehall parties, going absolutely crazy on the dancefloor.

Why did you decide to enter the competition? Did you have any initial reservation about entering?
Well I was always at theses Dancehall events having great fun, so one of my friends suggest I enter the competition. I had no intention and didn’t want to enter the competition because : although I look super confident and sometimes very aggressive when I’m dancing, I can be a very shy person and a total introvert in reality. I love to get lost in the music, feel the beat and dance like no-one’s watching but I didn’t like the idea of competing for a title.

What sort of preparation did you do in the lead up to the comp?
Well at the time I was watching a lot of International dancehall queen videos on you-tube. It was awesome, the contestants were great and I noticed that since Junko had won with her headstand dance, almost every dancer performed that head top move at international competitions.
My favorite International DHQ was ANGEL DHQ 2006, she had a wicked style (I had never seen anyone with yellow and green braids before), her moves always matched the songs, she knew all the latest moves, and she made head top looks so easy to perform!!!

So I decided to learn some of her tricks and to work on perfecting my split, head top and bridge. It felt a bit more like gymnastics than dancing but hey I needed to do a bit more than the regular club dancing to enter this kind of competition.

Who are some of your dance inspirations?
Definitely two of my brothers when I was growing up. Michael Jackson. Alvin Ailey’s dancers. Father Bogle, Angel DHQ2006. Latonya Style. Kimiko Versatile. Charly Thompson (my former student turned professional dancer and teacher)

What are your favorite dancehall steps?
All of the old school ones!!! Oh my god they were so much easier to catch. I love Latonya Style’s ones, she is such a good teacher. I like all of her stylish moves too even though I’m still practicing them. I love all the new steps coming out, but it is hard to keep up with all of them. Having said that I do love :
« Confidence and tambourine » from Stacy Faya
« Chu » and « Passage wine » « Kech a faya » from Kimiko Versatile
« Assasino » « Noxx » from Kriptic Klique
« Pepperseed » , « Turn her on », « Summa jam » from Black Eagles
« Shoota’s » « Gringo » from Elite Team
« Faitality » « Steppa life » from Supreme Blazer
« Handicap » move and song from the young guy at Dance JA Cultural center in Kingston (I forgot his name)
And actually I love most of the new moves being released its hard to keep up with them all!

How have things been for you since winning the competition?
Well I had to move to New-Caledonia not long after I won the OZ DHQ2007, and dancehall was just nonexistent out there. So I created a little movement to share my passion with the locals and organized the first DHQK competition in 2008.
I’m still teaching Dancehall and many other format but what I love the most is going back to Australia or Jamaica to experience True Jamaican Dancehall!!

What advise do you have for people thinking about entering?
Well I would say : !JUST DO IT!
You don’t need to be perfect, just give it a go and remember that the only competition is with yourself! So whatever you do make sure you give YOUR best and whatever the outcome, congratulate yourself for having been brave enough to participate and get out of your comfort zone onto the stage.
My other advice would be to try and learn as much as you can about the Dancehall culture, music, etc… learn the link between the songs and their moves (for instance do not bootyshake or split if the music says « breadfruit you wah breadfruit »)

This is an article published in local Sydney street press in 2006, promoting dancehall

Follow DESTHY on youtube here: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCKKcbcjBP1y1C1rPSrYaitw/videos

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