Jamaican dance: Dancehall style brings fresh vibes to Australian streets

The gritty, mesmerising and extremely energetic dance style "dancehall" is making its way to Australian streets, by way of a Zambian migrant with a passion for movement.

"I would describe dancehall as a culture," Alexx Mubanga said.

"It's a culture, it's from Jamaica and it's a way of escaping the struggles, everyday struggles."

Born in Kitwe in Zambia, Mr Mubanga moved to Perth eight years ago to study at TAFE, and while he had always loved the dance form he never thought he would be doing it long term.

"My family more wanted me to study, something like mechanical engineering, which is why I went into that," he said.

But as an international student, the 29-year-old found he was having to work all night just to pay his fees.

He found it hard to find his place in Australia at first, speaking limited English and with no family or friends in the country.

"I enrolled in dance ... and eventually I thought to start doing the same dances that I used to do back home in the streets," he said.

"At the end of it I started having some friends through that."

Realising the potential dance had to break down barriers, Mr Mubanga has been teaching one night a week in Perth — through his company Dancehall Downunder.

His group of students has slowly grown, and he said it had been a pleasure to see the way his style was being received.

"I believe dancing is for everybody, so while it does look hard, once you break down the steps, anyone can do it," he said.

'It was like a wake-up call to culture'

But the dancer is more at home out on the streets, and so spent almost all of 2016 back in his homeland.

"I hadn't been to Zambia for a couple of years and ... I had sort of forgotten a little bit about how the streets are," he said.

"It was like a wake-up call to culture once more and I enjoyed the little things — like watching the kids on the streets and a totally different lifestyle ... compared to Australia."

He said while in Zambia, he was dancing with a boom box at the back of the house, when some kids peered over the back fence.

"I just called them up ... and they joined me," he said.

"The next day they must have spread the word and they multiplied.

"In about two weeks the space was just too small at the back of the yard, there was just so many kids."

So he moved the dancing to the streets and into the local field.

Inspired, he brought the concept of dancing outside back to Perth, hosting workshops once a month in a carpark.

"People just rocked up and we had so much fun outside," he said.

"It was amazing to see people dance, really happy without a mirror or without being in the studio.

"And I'd never really thought about it, but it's a really great workout too."