After the panel discussion on Kingston's Creative City Status we went straight to Nanook to see the creative city in action. Nanook is situated at 20 Burlington Avenue. It is a yard with a hostel, and outdoor lounge with a deck bar and a fire pit. With 6 official Reggae Month events on its calender, Nanook is an integral part of the Reggae Month setup. I got to know Nanook last year, when it hosted the Tuesday Sankofa sessions, a mix of music, reasoning and live art. This year there's a new event scheduled for Tuesdays called Level UP.
Level-UP is an open agora, an evening of reasoning, discussion and music. When I set up a discussion evening in Belgium I usuallly book a boring venue. Participants sit on lines of chairs in a brightly lighted conference room and look at a power point presentation. What I got to experience at Level-UP was quite different. Ok, it's also an evening of discussion, but for the rest everything was different. Let's start with the setting. No boring conference venue here but an intimate yard where people are gathered outside around a fire pit. Where people can drink and smoke. Where you can grab a veggie patty (a yattee) from Benji's. The dynamics of the conversation and discussion itself were also different than I am used to. A speaker takes the microphone and introduces a topic and puts some issues to the public. Anyone can then ask for the mic and respond to the issue or ask a follow-up question to the speaker who introduced an issue. It is the calm and easy flow of the conversation that surprises me. There is no time limit to interventions. Someone may speak for 20 or 30 minutes on end. It is the depth of the discussion that surprises me. I am used to interventions being all about the ego of who makes them: why something is important to them, how much they have done to further an issue. None of this at Nanook: it's all about the issues, not about the speakers. And there's a lot of listening.
After the discussions it is of course time for music. None other than German sound system Sound Quake is in the house to spin some reggae classics and exclusive dubs. Sound Quake's set is in perfect harmony with the vibes at the yard. Next up is a live performance of Exile Di Brave. Exile is challenged by Nanook to put on an accoustic set and succeeds wonderfully. A great closure of an inspiring evening. Nanook in action, that's what the Creative City status of Kingston is all about. Have a look at the picture gallery to get an understanding of this magical setting.