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AT FLANNELS:   with Ramario Chevoy

AT FLANNELS: with Ramario Chevoy

“From dancers to poets to musicians, even though Nottingham is such a small city and our creative scene is so massive, we always get overlooked.”

Stylist, model, dancer and all-round creative Ramario Chevoy refuses to be ignored. 

In secondary school he developed his obsession for dance, shovelling his food down at lunch times and rushing to the dance studio to spend his free time learning choreography. By college he was connecting his passion for movement with the dancehall sounds that had soundtracked his upbringing in a Caribbean household, and began attending raves at the Windmill, the ACNA Centre in St Anns and Hyson Green Boys Club. “They were the establishments where I really gained a love for dancehall,” he recalls.

Contemporary fashion always came hand in hand with Ramario’s expression as a dancer. He became somewhat of a Tumblr phenomenon without even having signed up to the platform, when he’d travel to London with friends and family and was constantly stopped by street style photographers. “With fashion it’s all about confidence and owning it,” he says, wearing labels AMBUSH® and Alexander Wang. “Confidence truly is key to life.”

Legendary Jamaican street parties like Passa Passa and Weddy Weddy Wednesdays, and films like the 1997 cult classic Dancehall Queen, subconsciously influenced Ramario to start experimenting with block colours. “Some of the outfits used to be so scandalous,” he says. “And a lot of them would be in just one colour from head to toe.” While monochrome tends to be thought of as black-and-white, Ramario points out that this is not entirely correct: “Monochrome means all one tone, all one colour palette. I feel like it’s just so striking.”
Powerful figures like Shabba Ranks, Vybz Kartel, Lady Saw and Spice have always been aspirational to Ramario. “It’s not just about their music - it’s everything that they embody,” he explains. “That confidence and that unruliness is what I admired as well - if they say something they mean it, and they mean it with their whole chest.” He aims to channel that confidence to others through his own work, with a particular focus to platform fellow Caribbean creatives, who remain underrepresented.

As a dancehall lover who identifies as sexually fluid, there is an inherent disconnect between Ramario’s passion and its reputation for homophobia. He admits that at times it’s made him feel uncomfortable, but has found ways to deal with it in favour of the positive impact that it’s had on his life. “At the end of the day there’s certain things that are embodied by dancehall as a lifestyle that, as a human being, I can’t agree with,” he says. “So we’ve just had to agree to disagree, and that’s that. I could never cut it out of my life, because it’s part of my DNA - that’s how I was born and raised.”

Dancehall culture has shaped Ramario Chevoy, as much as the city he grew up in, and the journey is something that he reflects on often. “Remembering the struggle that you’ve came from, just to get to the little place where you might be right now - that’s so important,” he says. “Always remember where you’re coming from. I was born and raised in Nottingham - all day, every day, Notts.”

Interview by Grant Brydon 

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