We call it Dance!! No not like what you have at prom. This is the Jamaican version DANCE. The kinda parties that helped put dancehall on the map where selectors (DJ’s) juggled music with promising artist doing freestyle. Things have changed since then with these parties being more hardcore and selectors doing more talking than playing music. If you want to catch the old school vibe, where the original Rum heads (drunks) entertained with some stylish dance moves and the DJ’s played the old hits, then follow me as I journey to the country side (rural) of Manchester to a place called Comfort Hall.
Now this is no easy place to find as it’s off the beaten path and requires some skillful driving to traverse the steep bends and corners, not to mention a road that seems fit only for horse and carriages. Plus we were driving at night so it’s even more difficult as there are no street lights (pitch black) .
Our destination is Masup’s Lawn which is a house and local bar known to the community. He keeps a dance there once a year or so and on our arrival we saw cars parked along the narrow road. Tickets are $300 per person. That’s right, $300, and you kept your ticket stub for a chance to win the gate prize of a smart phone.
Upon entering the venue a few people were already gathered inside rocking to some old hits. Then there was one elderly, (already drunk) man entertaining the small crowd with some odd dance moves. In the middle was the sound system with selectors greeting those who were there and ensuring us tonight was gonna be good. To my left was a cook shop which had my nose ablaze with the sweet aroma of country-style Fried Chicken, Curry Goat and Manish water (goat head soup) cooked under wood fire
There was one bar set up at the front and one located at the back of the house. You had your choice of beer, stout, tonic wines, rum, vodka and even top shelf liquor like Hennessey and Moscato with a prices list on display.
Dances are the events that broke Jamaicans in the bad habit of partying late. It was around 12am and selectors had an early vibe going with some 80s and 70s hits. Standing beside the cook shop made it hard to resist the aroma of the food so I got myself a cup of Manish water (it was good) before I began to drink.
Music was provided by Breadda Hype, Chaps HI Tech (which was well-known in the area) and Pink Panther, a renowned
DJ and selector in dance hall music.
As the night progressed the lawn began to get packed as people poured in dressed for the theme: ladies black&white dresses and outfits the gents in their black&white blazers or shirts. The vibe continued with some early dance hall music that was well received with the ever popular gun finger salute from patrons. A highlight of the night was when a dance off ensued between two drunk men(Rum heads) much to the amusement of persons watching.
The first selector did well to get the vibe going but the dance got turnt up when Pink Panther took over. His reputation is well-earned as his selection of music was on point with mad mixing skills and transitions. He had the party in a frenzy with gun fingers pointed to sky with everyone shouting BOW BOW BOW !!! and banging on anything they could find.
After an intense session from Pink Panther, he switched over, allowing the next selector to play. This brought on the hip hop segment which gave some a chance to grab a drink or two with most patrons still jamming.
Then came best part… You know for the ladiesss and despite their nice outfits they weren’t afraid to get down. They shaked, twerked and jiggled their booty to the sexually charged songs. There was even a little exhibition as ladies challenged each other and in true dancehall fashion they became the center of attention as money would be given to the winner of the whine off. As much as I love to see women shake their bumpas my attention shifted to the sweet smells of country-style fry chicken and curry goat. Since everyone was focused on the dance off, I headed to the cook shop and asked mama as I affectionately called her to fix me up and when I got my food I took my myself to the back bar to eat.
From the screams of the crowd and the shouting of the selector the whine off was going very well but I was too caught up in the food, hanging with the owner’s dog as he got every bone I dropped.
When I was done I returned to the party and it was still in full swing and this was about 5:30 in the morning. Despite the excitement I was now feeling the effects of a full stomach (niggeritis) and given we had to drive back to St Catherine I departed to the car for a quick nap before we left. The party officially ended at about 7am.
In all Black& White Affair was a success. It brought back feelings of nostalgia from music I haven’t heard since high school to the food like my grandma use to make. I’m not a person who goes to dances alot but I definitely wanna come back to Comfort Hall next year.