Growing in Nairobi and attending Pumwani Boys High School, every Sunday attending the Super Jam Sessions in downtown Nairobi was like a rite of passage.
But even so, the rite was something that we too came along and found. From the 1980s through to the 90s; up until today, younger Kenyans out for a good time throng Sunday Jam session parties in different locations in the city centre.
Sunday has always been a reserved of the city’s young millennials disco outing. Everything takes a back drop and the younglings take over the city for an afternoon to be free. We recently made a tour back to experience the culture once again on a first-hand basis.
The culture that has over the years been fueled by dancehall and reggae music, is the perfect place to spot new talents in terms of music and dance. From this dingy clubs in the CBD talents such as Redsan, FBI Dancers, Kenrazzy and many more have risen.
The venue is one of those medium-size, multi-purpose central Nairobi venues that insists on metal detector searches for extra safety and a pass of Kshs 100.
But tonight, girls were dolled up to the nines in that post-Rihanna, punk-meets-dancehall-meets-Fantazia-rave look. The boys rock fresh dancehall influence rudebwoy culture, colorful t-shirts with matching shoes and pants.
If I were a fashion writer I’d probably say I felt like I was trapped in party back in Kingston Jamaica. Perhaps a Bounty Sunday in Seaview Gardens.
Before we went in, the vibe seemed to change. The anticipation built as the revelers tease each other like Formula 1 drivers raving their engines. Egos stroked.
Inside the venue, the DJ pumps up and the crowd had a pretty even male-female split begins to make waves with new dancehall moves that have been cutting the streets.
You don’t need to be an expert to find the city’s musical cocktail intoxicating and great fun. Not just dancehall or reggae music makes the cut in these jam sessions. Perfectly executed Twerking, mirror-image twists, spins and flips from the crowd gets the praise of everyone.
The dancers return back to the crowd after, as if nothing has happened. The dance crews go head to head. Looking on at the pomp and ceremony surrounding the event, I wondered if the rap, dance, twerk and even singing battles that surround the Jam Session Culture had the potential to become international sporting affairs.
Here I was wondering where the girls and boys had learned these moves, and where they had practiced them. I couldn’t help but feel that I was in the climax of one of those Step Up movies they show on cable in the middle of the afternoon.
Perhaps like our parents’ era who danced on social halls during the reign of disco, this Jam Session Culture could go the same way that disco did, rising from the underground to become a world expression phenomenon in terms of fashion and music.
What do you think?