Quote:click here for full storyOn a recent Saturday night, about a thousand young black Britons crowded into some tunnels near the London Bridge for a rowdy party that's known as "The Eskimo Dance." At first the D.J.'s played American hip-hop and Jamaican "bashment" — the local term for dancehall reggae — while the men drank mixed drinks (or, if they could afford it, champagne) and watched the women dance. But then came something else: the beats got murky and fidgety, and local M.C.'s crowded the stage, barking out fierce, mile-a-minute rhymes. People pushed forward, straining to see who had the microphone.
Dizzee Rascal, a brilliant and wildly original 19-year-old M.C. and producer, was everywhere and nowhere that night. His hits — panicky confections of spluttering electronics and superenunciated yelps — were played during the hip-hop and bashment sets. And M.C.'s borrowed his underground tracks — grim, sparse beats, with hardly any melody at all — for their live sets. Wiley, the veteran M.C. who helped organize the night, began by paying tribute to Dizzee, who was once his close friend, and people cheered at the mention of his name. But Dizzee, who grew up going to parties like the Eskimo Dance, had chosen not to attend.
It turned out to be a wise decision. Around 2:30 in the morning, a rhyme battle onstage spilled out into the audience. Soon, hundreds of clubgoers were stampeding toward the exits — and then, when another fight broke out near the back, stampeding away from the exits. Bottles were flying. People said they heard gunshots. Outside, as police officers and their dogs kept watch, fans headed home early (the party had been scheduled to last until 6), trading tall tales about who had done what.
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