That Satur­day-night show at Great Huts

Jamaica Gleaner - - HOSPITALIT­Y - Paul H. Wil­liams Hos­pi­tal­ity Ja­maica Writer

LIVE MU­SIC entertainm­ent is an in­te­gral part of the hos­pi­tal­ity and tourism in­dus­try. It is a given. Ex­pected. The band is ex­pected to pul­sate reg­gae and dance­hall mu­sic. Amer­i­can soul, disco, pop, and R&B are also part of the sta­ple. From time, to time some jazz is blown into the mix.

How­ever, the live entertainm­ent pack­ages at the var­i­ous ho­tels, es­pe­cially the all-in­clu­sive ones, are not very dif­fer­ent from one another. Dif­fer­ent singers, dif­fer­ent bands, but the same songs are what guests might get. And where are the floor shows of yesteryear?

One place where the floor show is big on the entertainm­ent plat­ter ev­ery Satur­day night is the Great Huts Re­sort in Bos­ton, Port­land. Ex­cept for when there are some special events, Richard Darby and his en­er­getic young dancers and drum­mers in the Man­chioneal Cul­tural Group from Port­land take over the Sa­fari Deck, where din­ing takes place.

In a very in­ti­mate set­ting, the din­ers, mostly over­seas guests, are seated a few feet away from the danc­ing and the drum­ming. The stage is now a path on which the his­tory of Ja­maica tra­di­tional mu­sic is told through songs, drum­ming and move­ments. Guided by Richard Darby, who does much of the singing and nar­ra­tives, the tal­ented young­sters show the au­di­ence how Ja­maicans used to dance years ago.

The var­i­ous dances tell the slav­ery-era sto­ries of mas­ter and en­slaved with their hands, feet, bod­ies and faces. From bruck­ins to dinky min­nie, quadrille, may­pole and ku­mina, the move­ments and the looks of in­ten­sity on the faces of the per­form­ers are en­gag­ing. They cer­tainly know how to carry the mood and essence of each dance.

ON FIRE

And the drums are the most over­pow­er­ing of them all, the singers and the dancers de­pend­ing on them to set the mood, and when the drum­mers and the dancers are on fire, all hell breaks loose, which per­haps only the wa­ter in a glass on Darby’s head when he dances the ku­mina can cool.

Darby, who has been danc­ing with his charges at Great Huts for over five years, stays in one place with the glass on his head and dances in sync with the cli­mac­tic beats of the drums, say­ing, ‘A di laas oh, a di laas oh!’ un­til the last sharp beats to sig­nal the end of Part One echo from the drum.

Part Two is fun time, dances down the mem­ory lane of con­tem­po­rary Ja­maican mu­sic. It is time for the dancers to toss away their tra­di­tional cos­tumes and don more con­tem­po­rary ones, some rather raunchy, but true to the essence of the dances.

Mu­sic from the days of ska and rock­steady is played re­mind­ing the older Ja­maican guests of their young days, telling the younger ones what mu­sic and dances were like be­fore they were even con­ceived, and in­form­ing over­seas guests, es­pe­cially first-timers, of the his­tory of non-tra­di­tional Ja­maican mu­sic.

Of course, reg­gae and dance­hall mu­sic are also spun into the fun. This is the seg­ment when guests are taught Ja­maica dance moves and are ex­pected to ex­e­cute what they have learnt.

The Satur­day show at Great Huts is in keep­ing with Great Huts’mis­sion of show­cas­ing Ja­maica’s rich per­form­ing and fine arts. Two of its sig­na­ture cul­tural pro­grammes are the Ja­maican Arts Odyssey and the Cin­ema Par­adise Por­tie Film Fes­ti­val.

PAUL WIL­LIAMS PHO­TOS

The Akan Hut at Great Huts in Bos­ton, Port­land.

Dr Paul Rhodes, founder of Cin­ema Par­adise. A scene from the panel dis­cus­sion on ex­plor­ing links be­tween Africa and Ja­maica in the 21st cen­tury held in­side Africana House, Great Huts, Fe­bru­ary.

The Queen of Sheba at Great Huts in Bos­ton, Port­land.

CON­TRIB­UTED

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