So, we can party early when we have to

People dancing in a club at night
People dancing in a night club (Photo credit: Luis Quintero)

Nothing short of a music miracle occurred over the very short time that the Jamaican entertainment business has had a limited reopening this month. Like many remarkable developments, it has been overshadowed by the preceding circumstances and most visible developments resulting from an adjustment in the situation, while the underlying behaviour change – that most difficult of things to achieve sustainably – has been largely overlooked.

The last few weeks have shown that as a nation we can party early. And, considering the intermittent battles between law enforcement officials and late-night partygoers, especially since the Noise Abatement Act was introduced in 1997 and then with the enforcement of the Disaster Risk Management Act since the onset of COVID-19 in Jamaica, this has been nothing short of a miracle. With the spike in COVID-19 cases since the general relaxation of restrictions which permitted the holding of parties, later this week the entertainment sector clampdown may be reimposed. In addition, Minister of Local Government and Rural Development Desmond McKenzie has noted the continuation of events outside of the permitted parameters, which has ocurred ever since the COVID-19 restrictions were originally imposed. That does not, however, change the underlying lesson, that when required parties in Jamaica can end at a time which allows for a more harmonious relationship between those who are keen to dance the night away and those who would rather sleep the night away.

The involvement of alcohol, which was broached in a previous column as a possible contributing factor to the need for partying despite the policing of the Disaster Risk Management Act, plays a significant part. The longer the party goes on the more liquid – liquor, actually – is required to cool down the revellers or to keep the ‘vibes’ going. In other words, the longer the session the more ‘de bar sell’. It is in the party organiser’s best interests to extend the party as much as possible and there is a fine line between the audience being trained to satisfy the promoter’s profit-making mandate and actually being provided with quality entertainment. I have been to more extended music entertainment events than I can remember and at many of them there have been extended dead spots. In this era of persons capturing content on their cellphones as part and parcel of their party experience the highlights may look great, but the boring parts have been edited out (a bit like football match highlights). However, more time spent at the event means more money spent at the event and I have long been wary of a deliberate stretching out of parties to milk the last dollar out of patrons.

Of course, if this is the case, like all such scams it only works with the enthusiastic compliance of the audience and the intensity with which late light (or early morning) partygoers in Jamaica have insisted on going on and on is striking. There is this confusion of quality with duration (a bit like how some persons approach sexual intercourse), with the duration sometimes to the detriment of those who willingly participate in the extension of an encounter beyond the limits of pleasure.

This early arrival and early departure partying cannot last forever as a mandated format, but I hope that at least some party organisers and audience members take away a lasting lesson that may just result in a consistent approach to some events – start early and end at a time which does not push the enjoyment into an endurance contest and keep the economy of energy and the event sustainable.

Mel Cooke covered Jamaican entertainment as a print journalist for almost two decades, overlapping with his MPhil research on dancehall and experiential marketing with the Institute of Caribbean Studies, UWI, Mona, where he is now working on a PhD while lecturing in the Bachelor of Arts, Communication Arts and Technology (BACAT) programme at the University of Technology, Jamaica (UTech, Ja.).

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *