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“It looked like Sunsplash every Sunday afternoon, completely full,” he says.

Events like these gave Acon his name and encouraged the expansion of Costa Rica’s reggae scene.

Dancehall songs in particular are sung in English patois or mixed with Spanish.

With the combination of local and internationally produced tunes, there is never lack of a good reggae party in Costa Rica.

Words and Photos by Sabia Mc Coy-Torres— When people think of Costa Rica, what usually comes to mind are exotic animals, lush jungle, and tropical beaches—a paradise waiting be indulged in.

Rarely would one consider gritty port city streets, dancehall blasting from passing cars, and gunshots busting out for celebratory reasons.

During the two years I lived in Costa Rica, I spent as many nights dancing to reggae in city-style San Jose clubs until dawn as I did at wallless bars on tropical beaches.

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Inside reggae night at club Bongos, San Jose, Costa Rica Reggae music and dance is for fun and entertainment, but it is also a means of survival.

Acon is talking about Costa Rica’s Afro-Caribbean population, the descendents of Jamaican laborers who came to Costa Rica beginning in 1871 to construct a railroad connecting the Caribbean coast to the Pacific.

After the railroad was finished, they stayed on to work banana plantations, while more Jamaicans immigrated until the late 1940s, also to work in this industry.

Mento, often mistakenly referred to as calypso, was the dominant music form when many workers arrived, with workers making songs about daily life and labor.

As reggae developed in Jamaica, a strong demand for this music emerged in a Caribbean community hungry to continue their music traditions.

At that point only Caribbean Ticos listened to reggae and went to reggae events.

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