A reader of my blog asked me yesterday if 14 days of continious partying doesn't wear us out. "Aren't you guys getting tired"? Of course we are, hell, I'm getting 40 this year. When we get out of bed anywhere between 9 and 10 pm my body feels like its 60. It's mostly the continuous standing up for hours on end at parties and events that strains the legs and back. Of course we're tired, so tired that we fell asleep at 6 pm today and only managed to reach the second edition of the Level UP! event at Nanook at about 11 pm. We missed out on the reasoning with Mutabaruka but did enjoy a wonderful second evening at Nanook I'll tell you more about later.
Survival strategies for Kingston party goers
But since we are about midway in our 2016 reggae holiday, and because of the question I got yesterday about how to keep on partying, I would like to share some of our experiences on this matter in a little Partying in Kingston 101/for dummies section.
Finding out where the parties are and getting there
Check the Kingston section on Reggaetourist for weekly events and upcoming parties. Ask around. Listen to the radio. Buy the Observer and the Gleaner. To get there: call any one of these (or other) taxi companies: Express, On Time, El Shadai or Apollo. If you figure out how the coaster and route taxi system works in Kingston you could use it to get to a party but they won't be driving when you're coming back. The listed taxi companies are easy to use. Call them, tell them where you are and where you want to go. Remember your phone number, the company might ask for it. The operator will tell you how many minutes you have to wait and that's it. Fares are standard. You do not have to ask beforehand or negotiate. Most rides in Kingston will be JMD 600 or less. I prefer calling one of the taxi companies in stead of taking one of the taxis gathered at parties, mostly for two reasons. The first is that you will have to negotiate a price and it will be more expensive and the second is that you might end up in a Robot, an unofficial and uninsured car.
Stuff to take along when partying
You need a phone with a Jamaican SIM, that's for sure. You have to be able to call a taxi, right? Check my Bring a phone, Buy a SIM section for more information on how to get a SIM. Bring some emergency money stashed away seperately. Bring some tissues if you would need them for the restroom. It can cool down at night, especially when you get tired or when you're at Dub Club in the Mountains overlooking Kingston, so you might consider taking a light jacket with you.
Be respectful and polite. Don't get wasted and behave like a fool. Assess your surroundings: a hardcore Dancehall party is different from a rootical Culture Yard. A drunken tourist in shorts smoking cigarettes and annoying people in a Culture Yard where only the Holy Herb is used, it's not a pretty sight. Common Sense will take you a long way.
Find a decent yard to rest
When it comes to finding places to stay in Kingston I would definitely say AirBnB gives you most value for money. There are some JMD 5000 hotel rooms out there, but for that price you could find your own appartment or studio. The huge advantage of having your own kitchen is that you save money and energy. Restaurants are scattered througout the city and you'll be spending a lot of time and energy going there if you have to eat out for every meal. Even if you only manage to make a warm breakfast (think boiled yam, a can of baked beans, an egg, steamed vegetables, sausages), it makes all the difference. Find a place where you can relax outside in the shade. Rest during the day. For us, this mostly means sleeping for a couple of hours in the late afternoon.
Finally, my light preference for AirBnB is nothing but a personal choice: hardcore backpackers can find real budget places in more and more dorm rooms, such as in Nanook, where you can book the nook.
We were starved when we reached Nanook but Benji was there to help us out with an Ackee Yattee. We reached just in time to experience the mesmerizing performance of Italee.
Italee, an empress -today dressed in a golden robe- backed by a seven person band combining Nyabingi riddims with rock music climaxes. Italee, middle name Godess of Energy, is everywhere: on and off stage, singing and chanting and blessing and inviting other singers to offer a song. In a long drown out hypnotising segment the mantra is 'Nation Building' and Italee manages to get the audience to form a circle, hand in hand, for minutes on end. It was very moving. I had to wipe away a tear. That happened last year at Nanook too and I know why: I feel at home here and I am already realising our journey will come to an end. I see myself in Belgium sitting in front of the TV with the heating turned up on a typical Tuesday night and I'm not liking it.
Anyway, we got to see a second super fun performance: an Irish reggae band with bangos and flutes! Jamaicans just love it when foreigners do crazy things with reggae. There were quite a lot of tourists at Nanook, a lot more than last year. Nanook is quickly becoming an epicenter of real cultural exchange (think Irish reggae bands performing for a Jamaican audience with flutes and banjos!) crossing the boundaries of nationalities and cultural disciplines. I do hope the one loud and drunken tourist present remains an exception to the rule. Follow Nanook's facebook page for info on past and future events. Looking forward to Dubwize tonight. Time to rest.