So I’m here on a hill side in Kingston, a 10min drive from Papine square.
On a Sunday evening, a very cool evening on account of the rain, I decided the do my culture tour.
As we step down what feels like too many uneven steps, that make you walk like a giant as you miscalculating them, I’m greeted by a familiar smell… ahh…escallion.
This tells me I’m in the home of a nature lover aka Rastafarian, one that grows his own ingredients. You’d think it’d be smoke from some sensi that hits you first but you would be re-enforcing a stereotype.
But that smell isn’t far behind because my friend tonight I venture up on Jack’s Hills to Kingston dub club.
As i make my way in I’m surprised by all the tourist up here…it’s like the Tower of Babel, but I’m mostly surprised by the ratio tonight…out of many…white people!
And by white people I mean non locals…
Now if you’ve never been…your basically walking into a musical garden that has different levels and areas.
There an open paved off area for “skanking” (dancing), where there’s a huge wall of speakers that music is pouring out it, grabbing you by the hip and swaying you, two wooden picnic park benches to the side and a tent for the selector and a featured artist to give a small lyric but powerful performance. Tonight was a veteran selector from outta the U.K. Jah Shaka the Mighty Zulu Warrior with his followers (male and female) surrounding the tent.
When sitting at these picnic benches after wearing out your feet from all the skanking…which a lot of people seem to have done, you look up and the moon’s sky twinkling with dancing starlights peeps out from all the dark green leaves of all the plants and trees above, tonight even the moon came out with its fullest.
You can step down to the right of the DJ tent to short but a narrow corridor, where the left takes you to the bathroom and the right takes you to another open area in the back of the house. Where there’s a kitchen, a large wooden bar and lounge area that over looks the lights of Kingston. The deck lounge has wooden floors, a couple of benches and chairs that didn’t all matched but fits right in with the rustic mellow decor vibes.
So back here you can just grab a Red Stripe (foreigners), Heineken (hip locales), Guinness/Dragon (yard roots man), Appleton or White rum (older folks) or a naturally made fruit juices (naturalist & foreigners who have work in the morning) and bask in the lights of the night sky, with the aroma of herb smoke.
If you didn’t bring your own you can grab a bag anytime from a facilitator either with a knapsack and kind words or one that has bags in hand interjecting the name of his product between the lyrics of the music as he weaves through the crowd.
There’s an area inside the house only so deep that sells memorabilia of the club and a wall with Augustus Pablo records on the wall. He was a Jamaican roots reggae and dub record producer, melodica player and keyboardist the owner of this club was associated with.
Back in the lounge area I stood with my back to the bar only turning around to order another beer, just observing the people and watching the moving lights of traffic down below. I decided not to talk to anyone tonight as I just came for the music so I head back to the front.
Jah Shaka was playing tunes old and new…well new to me.
There’s was no mixing, the song would play until it was done then switched to another record with all its cracks, bumps and hisses… Did I mention this is all vintage vinyl records? So no one dared to “wheeeeeeeel up” any song.
Every time I see a nice empress…the ones that make your eyes and the corner of your mouth tilts…she closely followed by her king and you’re negated to looking at the “tourists” as you don’t want to diss nobody.
Looking out into the crowd, above the dance floor more people were coming down and there was an over enthusiastic dread in a full white outfit with a PACO jeans jacket. I refer to him as the flag man of the night. Have you ever watched a live concert of a Rastafarian performer and in the back is a flag bearer, waving the Ethiopian flag vigorously and dancing up a storm the whole performance. Which I honestly think it’s the same dude…those dance moves are not taught unless they are passed down from father to son.
By 11pm the ratio seems to be even now, I forgot Jamaicans like to come out later to things, the club’s Instagram page said from 8pm-2am and I got here at 9:30, so that’s not bad. Of late I’d get to a place @11/12 and be the only one there beside the staff.
I made another bee line to the bar grab another beer, I’m on my fifth but it’s the music that was giving me a buzz, I decide to take the long way around and check out the 3 stalls on the other side of the house. There was a guy selling books, and two others selling craft and jewelry, nothing quite interested me so I moved on.
Back at the bar, I noticed a couple people I knew and knew off, did the head nod of acknowledgement and moved to my spot.
There’s a lot of friendly interactions that happened right in front of me at the bar…well it seems as I can’t make out what language they were speaking, but it sounded pleasant.
There was this guys I couldn’t quite remember where I knew him from but I wasn’t going to make the same mistake people do with me and mistake me for someone totally different. It racked my mind for a bit then gave in and said my subconscious will tell me when it’s ready and continued to sip my beer.
This is an haven for artist upcoming and practicing, performance and visual, on stage and behind the scene…film, yes film…Kurt!
I met Kurt way back in college as a friend of my friend Kyle, I’ve read about his short film being in a Trinidad & Tobago Film Festival, I wanted to check it out but I was living in St. Lucia at the time and just came back from a short trip home, so that one missed me.
Thou I haven’t seen all the film, I read enough to spark my interest of the story in front and behind the camera.
As I was leaving all this came to mind so I hailed him up, thanked him for maintaining the culture through films and exposing our non “typical” stories and talent.
As my night ended at 1am, I left on a musical high that was cool in more than one way, promising to return with more people or even talk to some.