It started with a phone call.
I was heading down to half way tree in a taxi, I had just left Monique and her daughter Kiki.
Being that it was Monique’s birthday I said I’d come and spend some time with her, nothing too fancy, just to chill.
Upon reaching Matilda’s corner I remembered I was suppose to see another Monique and J that weekend also…(everybody has children now, it like a plague 🙂 ) so I gave her a call….”hey mum, wey yu deh?”….now this question has started many a disagreements in and out of context when it comes to the man and woman department, but seeing that its not that type of relationship, I was clear for usage.
She then proceeded to tell me that she was on her was to drop off J by her mother’s because Red Stripe the company she works for was having a Heineken ” drink my beer, its cool!” party at the old train station in downtown Kingston, and this was by invitation only.
Now this is a quaint venue for a party, and I’ve been tricked by events like this before. Where it said invitation only…only to go and see everybody and dem muma dog with an invite….seriously guys, what is the point??
Needless to say I was hesitant in accepting her invitation and previous to this I had another conversation with ma brethren ” The Squid” about it. So birthday Monique (even thou they both have birthdays in the same month, a phenomenon I realized when I called one wishing her happy birthday only to be told I was couple weeks early) was going to the old hits party Mello Vibes later that night with her girlfriends, I told her I might pass through since I didnt make any plans for the night at the time. I called “The Squid” asking him wey him up to…he told me about the same Heineken party, but we could go to Mello Vibes after. So with the combination of hearing about the Heineken party a second time, i haven’t seen Monique and the crew in a long while…and I had promised “The Squid” we’d hang out that weekend…I decided to go.
Now my expectations were very low, given my experience with these types of parties and pair with the fact that I’m getting old….er, so the chance to go to a party is not very high on my list, it right below; going to Church (Acropolis), playing video games til my thumbs get numb (Kratos….doom doom…Kratos…doom doom…Kratos….I will kill Zeus!), hanging out and doing nothing, I don’t get to do that alot or what use to be my answer for everything…”I rather be f$&:ing”
But in essesense what actually gets me out is “friends”…just to interact in a different setting with my choosen few will get me to go anywhere, but that doesn’t say I won’t mingle with a couple cute female strangers…
Random thought….you ever notice you flirt more when your in a relationship? You all can admit it…men out loud and women in that deep dark corner of your mind where you keep the rest of your delusions (some of you).
Anyways…we met up at 11:30 by moe’s, I’d hang with the crew then link up with “The Squid”, then to Mello Vibes to see the birthday moe (it would help to differentiate them but both of them have dreads).
We got to the venue…there was a parking away from the actual venue and a shuttle bus…so I thought, maybe it wouldn’t be a free for all after all, where I had to battle to get in and out and i was hungry so I hoped there was food. Only to get to the gate and see the real crowd…it was 12midnight and it started from 7:30pm, but they were still people streaming in….well trickling in. But it was as I expected, everybody and dem muma was there…walkers and bengay everywhere.
We went into the party, there were the usually….Heineken green theme decor…the cute people taking pictures of themselves…the dancers were present…posers or fashionista as they fashion themselves (pun intended) and the dancehall music seekers (the tourist, that never leave the island). So the party was in full swing and a bee line to the bar was then formed, then to the chill spot, you know where everybody settles and when an individuals break off for watever reason….this was the origin point.
Now just as we settled….the music stopped…and the place goes dark…only to realize we ended up right in front of the little stage and there was an performance element to this party. Now I’m not a fan of “stage shows”, so I’m not even slightly impressed even when it’s the familiar cry of “pppppeople dead!!!” Yes ladies and gentlemen Veteran dancehall artist Bounty Killer has taken the stage, who recently is more known for his usage of handy dandy tools, bad english rants (eeeeenglish a dead!!!) and poor choice in women, a parody of his former self. I turn around to see if I accidently stumbled into a Heineken startime oldies show instead of which he would have been an opening act.
Ok, don’t get me wrong I’m was a big bounty killa fan back in the day…Bounty Killa with the fugees was huge!!! But I listen to this man now, coincidentally decaying much like the meaning of dancehall in his innovation, power and relevance.
The power dancehall once had in terms of it’s reach and appeal, the sharing of the “ghetto” experience, we are all interwoven in. This was the “Jamaicans surviving” experience…it just took on different manifestation through out the classes, this was the Jamaica people came here looking for when they heard the music; they weren’t sure what it was or that they were looking for it, but that blend of words, beats and life created something so relatable, it was instantanious understood. Now this has been corrupted by the source that helped its rise…that raw hungry talent; sure they were some upstarts looking for a ‘bust’ but the real talented and hungrier ones that showed they wanted it…they got the prestige and money that came with it. Dancehall was a gateway to escape the poverty they experienced growing up and now to be saddled with fame…not the screaming fans willing to do anything just to be in their presence like in the states. They were everyday day ppl and still were, but now they had money and with enough money you can buy puppets…who charge dearly for their yeses…
So these thoughts ran thru my mind as the performance went on, I took my phone out and took some pictures for Bryan, thinking “my olive colored skin friend in new york would love this, I bet he’s never seen Bounty Killa live” and then the music grabbed me…I heard no more words, no lyrics, no bad English crashing against my temple…forcing its way into my ears…but I refuse to comprehend it. i was taken…
I sway, rocked then danced…
I was with friends, had music, a couple Heinekens (which happen to be my favorite beer) and I let go….feeling only free…
Thats what i remember about the saturday night as i sat on my wet verandah, after the rains had passed, i heard montego bay was washing away with the amount of rain fall the whole weekend, only to get here and nothing…..