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Danah's Conduct at Zen: What's the Big Deal?

By Heru
From: Trinidad and Tobago News Blog
April 24, 2007

When this issue first surfaced on the internet and local radio talk shows, before Trinicenter's article "Akon Did Not Abuse Girl At Zen", many people were making very racist comments against Akon. Over time, following the exposure of the racism, more photos and other information surrounding this incident, many have shifted blame to club Zen for breaching the law with regards to minors in such places. Many more have shifted the blame to Danah and are being extreme in their condemnations.

If people are going on about the age of the girl, then fine. There is a law addressing minors in clubs that was breached there. But if you remove the age of the girl from the equation, then Minister Hinds and several other people have expanded on what "lewd dancing" is as an illegal act.

Some people on talk shows are attaching this issue to the controversy over the 'Manzanilla Beach After Carnival Cool Down' which involved ladies actually showing their private parts on stage and not just dancing raunchy. As I stated yesterday, if we are going down the road of charging people for raunchy dancing outside of stripping for cash (although I disagree with the law there) then the government is definitely talking about regulating regular dancing at Carnival time.

The obvious hypocrisies over this issue have been exposed. There are acts with males standing on their heads on stage and females gyrating on them; there are acts with women with their hands on the ground and butts in the air and some guys gyrating on them. There are people who regularly go on the ground and gyrate on each other at Carnival fetes.

I have even seen these behaviours in the local Country Club among many other 'prestigious' places. Generally speaking, when these incidents are reported in the papers, church people make noise and there is much talk about it, but the law generally seems to be clear on what they consider illegal.

Dutty Wine in Trinidad and Tobago

If people are just being shown that one small clip aired by TV6 of the girl and Akon at Zen, it does not convey what transpired before and after that one clip. It paints a distorted picture. Before that clip, there is the girl among others wining, 'Dutty Wining' etc. on their own for the audience. Then there are images of the girl pulling the artist closer to her several times, actually holding his belt at one time and pulling him in.

This is all common in club shows and even Carnival fetes and nothing is wrong with that in my view, except if one is deliberately breaking the law with a minor. I will add in this particular show at Zen, there was no evidence that the star or others were paying the girl to strip or participate unwillingly in the dance. The girl herself said she just got carried away. So this incident cannot be equated with the stripping incident at Manzanilla Beach.

Also, I feel people are making too much of the girl's performance as if the girl did something so wrong and is in need of salvation as a result of that dance performance. The behaviour of that girl is typical of teens that have the resources to indulge. Many buy into the "Girls Gone Wild" type of conduct.

If the girl felt that how people are reacting to her performance is fair and she would reconsider her actions in the future, then fine. But some of the comments actually speak about the repressed sexuality of the commentators. They make a big deal at the sight of people gyrating as if there is something wrong with that.

This country was Christianized and certain immature acts, curious behaviours and even harmless normal behaviours have been criminalized as a result.

There also seems to be some special relationship between this government and Zen's owner, Johnny Soong. Not that something is wrong with that per se, but there seems to be an effort to play down the only aspect of that incident that was a clear breach of the law - the age of the girl in the club.

Mr. Hinds accused Akon of possibly committing, "...a criminal offence of lewd dancing in public", which is spurious at best, but called on Zen to more or less do better age checks in the future.

Now the Prime Minister, Patrick Manning, got involved and is calling on the public to forgive the actions of teenager Danah Alleyne. He also said: "I have taken very careful notice of this matter and the owner of Zen owes it to the public to take responsibility. I will be interfacing with Zen because that kind of thing should never be allowed to happen in this country." His statement about interfacing with Zen is even stranger. Why is he going to meet with the owner of Zen? I did not know that Zen was such an essential service that when they are clearly in breach of the law, the Prime Minister has to talk to them about possibly bucking up. This new aspect has added a strange dimension to this debate.

NEWS UPDATE: May 07, 2007

Police investigators have closed the books on investigations into the Danah Alleyne/Akon raunchy dancing incident at Zen nightclub.

According to Deputy Commissioner of Police Winston Cooper, the investigations have reached a stalemate as witnesses aren't coming forward to support the police.

It's been three weeks since police officers launched an investigation into the lewd dancing incident involving the fifteen year old pastor's daughter, Danah Alleyne, and the hip-hop singer, Akon at the Zen nightclub. A video clip of the act was posted on the internet and this sparked a national debate about such conduct and who is to blame.

Also Read:

Zen: Dancing Around the Issues by L. Paul

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