Rihanna’s Video Director Clears Up Confusion About West Indian Dance Culture Depicted in ‘Work’

Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele
Rihanna and Drake in the “Work” video
YouTube screenshot

If Rihanna and Drake's "Work" video doesn't have you itching to wine your waist in a hot, sticky, hole-in-the-wall reggae spot this weekend, then you're in the minority.

It had people reminiscing about the last time they let loose and sweated their hair out to some Buju Banton; it also had people speculating about whether Rihanna and Drake are, indeed, a couple because of all the dancing they were doing on each other.


But the video's director, Toronto native Director X, spoke to Fader magazine about how some people who are unfamiliar with reggae dancing may be applying a sexualized interpretation of it.

"That is Caribbean culture at its height," Director X said. "He was dancing, she saw him, she went to him, they had a dance together. At no point did anyone think, 'Hey, we're dancing, so maybe … later … " Director X said, explaining that reggae dancing is not necessarily a precursor to sex or a hookup of any kind. 

"It doesn't work like that. In West Indian culture, a dance is a dance. You can have that dance. There could be a girl jumping on top of you and you're wining up on one another."

He said that in other cultures and societies, reggae dancing may be perceived as lewd or obscene but that in the West Indies, it's an art form and a way of expression. Nothing more, nothing less.

"In the wrong state, you'd get arrested and charged for lewd conduct or something. But you can end that dance and her boyfriend can be beside her, and you're like, 'Hi,' or you just walk away. Dancing and sex are tied together in America—if you're dancing with somebody, that means you're sleeping with somebody. But that doesn't mean that in our culture it's the same. In West Indian culture, you're dancing with someone because you're dancing with someone."



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Diana Ozemebhoya Eromosele is a staff writer at The Root and the founder and executive producer of Lectures to Beats, a Web series that features video interviews with scarily insightful people. Follow Lectures to Beats on Facebook and Twitter.

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