This entry was written by guest blogger, Saran Hutchinson. Jamaicans are known for their love of music and dancing but how has the party experience changed given the recent events (now largely over) in Western Kingston? What now happens when the police, in a time-honoured tradition, come to "lock off the dance". Saran gives us a glimpse.
Saran Hutchinson, guest blogger
Almost two weeks after the declaration of a state of emergency, Kingstonians are still a little unsure of their right to party. Altitude, an Appleton sponsored event, is celebrating its 10th anniversary, and after a couple weeks of ‘lock down’ that seem like a lifetime, it is now time to step out again. The party is being held on Skyline Drive, in the hills of Papine located in the parish of St. Andrew. My friend and I get to the parking facility at Jamaica College, a prestigious high school for boys, at approximately 12:30 am and embark the idling shuttle bus. After waiting for about ten minutes, we’re on our way.
The bus ride is an interesting one. There are strange grunting and grinding sounds from the bus and more than one person expresses concern about the safety of the vehicle. At one point, after surviving many deep bends and hairpin turns, we arrive at a standstill and realize with horror that we are looking directly into the side of a mountain. The driver, a dark, stout fellow, in glasses which apparently serve no useful purpose, has grossly underestimated the depth of this corner. Against all odds we make it out alive and arrive at the venue.
Promotional material from Durex and Old Spice line the premises. This is a residential neighbourhood and someone comments that the party will be turned off by the police. We all have a little chuckle and join the line to enter the party. The night is still young by Kingston partying standards and there are just a few people waiting in the queue.
We get in. Appleton brand alcohol is included in the entry price and we get a couple drinks. We feel we deserve them after the bus ride. Vodka, beer, Guinness, and high end liquors are available for sale. The DJ is set up on the lawn across from the bar which is slightly above the drive-way just past the entrance. We pick a spot close to the bar and this is ours for the night. People are dressed to the hilt. Rosettes, stilettos, sequins (lots of sequins), even a few jackets and ties seem to be the order of the night. The party's promoters had urged "Dress to Impress" and that the patrons did. Admittedly, some people seem to have made an extra effort to fit snugly into their perhaps too small outfits.
It is now just after 1:00 am and the party has a nice tempo. DJ Nicco has just graduated from the compulsory oldies vibes and is now playing house music. He is in fact so into what he's doing that he doesn't see the two officers dressed in their blue fatigues, rifles over their shoulders, approaching him from behind. The patrons however, notice them from the moment of entry and intently watch as they instruct the DJ to turn off the music.