The FIRST DHQ of Australia – Memuna

The FIRST DHQ of Australia  – Memuna

What is you stage name? Original DHQ Memuna And in what year did you win the DHQK title? 2006!

Can you describe a bit about the competition the year you won?
It was at Hermanns Bar- Sydney Uni. From memory and this is going back a bit, the judges were Mikey Glamour, Nick Toth and MC Laylo. (* Sorry if I forgot the other judges).  The sound systems there were Nasty Tek (Mikey Glamour, Prince Andrew and MC Laylo, Surgeon General (Knote & Nick Toth) and Spin d Music (Dwayne and Fasmwa).

Can you describe a little bit about your dance history?
I grew up on modern African music, derived from my background first from Sierra Leone where I learnt dances and moves mainly from the Temne and Mende groups. Then spilled into Soukous, learning the infamous Ndombolo moves as well as Coupe Decale style and of course more like Sabar, Azonto etc… My love for Dancehall started in the 90’s and early 2000’s when I heard Super Cat, Shabba Ranks, Yellow Man, Capleton and Buju Banton- they were the first ones that drew me in and I was instantly hooked… it was my calling just like African music.

Why did you decide to enter the competition? Did you have any initial reservation about entering?
I entered because it was all in fun and I had always loved to dance. OF COURSE I had reservations entering. I finally had gotten the courage to enter from some gf’s who were with me, and I thought it would be a great way to be a good representation for di fluffy gyals dem wink wink!

What sort of preparation did you do in the lead up to the comp?
To be completely honest at that time, it wasn’t like it is now. Dancehall music was extremely underground at that time. It’s grown (not like compared to the rest of the world). So really I was just freestyling to a lot of songs, to move to the different riddims and thinking about the outfit- but it actually was very un Dancehall like- all black sexy gyal attire!

Who are some of your dance inspirations?
Latonya Styles, Kanda Bongo Man, Yacou and Pape Mbabe, Awilo Longomba, Chantal Loail, Jessica Phoenix Fiyah, CEO Dancers, Kimiko Versatile, Lady Sol Garcia, Shisha- I’ll stop here because as you can clearly see I could go on!!

What are you favorite dancehall steps?
Oh man, oh course who doesn’t like Dutty Wine, Nuh Linga, Boysie, Gimmi Way, Muscle Wine, Sexy Body Gal, Above Average, Butterfly again I go on.

How have things been for you since winning the competition?
Look I’m definitely grateful for things that have gone on for me personally, I performed over the years as support acts for like Kanda Bongo Man, Emerson, Jah Cure and more, taught classes as well as performed with groups such as African Essence and Soul Afrique (with myself as one of the founding partners) and 101 Doll Squadron. But I feel I can learn more from masters like Latonya and also teach classes on classic, authentic Jamaican Dancehall. The genre has suddenly become more commercial but many still don’t completely or fully understand it. It came from the streets of Jamaica, it is a form of expression-completely freestyle that is something I continuously enforce when spreading the Dancehall gospel.

What advise do you have for people thinking about entering?
Don’t stress about it, but do what you can to learn as much as you can about not only the music but also understand it’s a culture as well. Take in the steps- make it into your own, take in the attitude, the clothes/outfits and most of all DANCE LIKE NOBOBY’S WATCHING AND BRING OUT THAT RUDE GYAL/ BAD MAN OUT IN YOU!

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