Long Live Ska

By Tanya Soto

From the local music venues to the neighbors’ backyard, ska has been heard since the late 1950’s. Originated in Jamaica, the ska genre has evolved throughout the years. With a mixture of reggae, punk, and a hint of cumbia, ska has overcome the English lyrics and has expanded with Spanish influences.


As soon as the genre appeared, fans of ska were labeled as “rude girls and rude boys.” Their style incorporated suits, ties, suspenders, and pork pie hats.The image consisted of supposed juvenile delinquents and criminals.The style was mostly adopted in the poorer sections of Jamaica and in The United Kingdom.

In the late 60s in Jamaica, the birthplace of ska, it was known as rocksteady reggae. The song “Message To You Rudy” by The Specials gives off a Jamaican, groovy vibe. As the years passed by, skacore (a mixture of punk and ska) arose in the 70s. In the 1980’s, bands such as Operation Ivy and Voodoo Glow Skulls were influenced by the skacore movement. Modernized ska now consists of Spanish lyrics, punk influences, and cumbia. La Banda Skalavera features Spanish singing and sensational cumbia. Regardless of different genres involved, ska still contains powerful messages of social injustices, politics,and protests.


As of today, ska is still extremely popular in countries such as Mexico, Germany, and local cities here in California, like Santa Ana and Los Angeles. In local venues such as the Yost Theatre and The Observatory, ska bands still perform and fans dance the night away. Disregarding the changes of ska throughout the years, the basic beats and ear-piercing trombones and trumpets remain along the melodies, fans still admire the catchy tunes, and ska is still listened to worldwide.

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