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.


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.


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.


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