Have No Place to Call We Own

title taken from “Rant and Rave” by Tambu

“Rant and Rave” Brooklyn Venues Edition

SocaSaySo & DysChick

First, let me say thank you to everyone who attended Rant and Rave on August 28th. This was the final installment of our Summer Chat Series and centered on our most controversial topic to date: the lack of Brooklyn venues. SocaSaySo and I worked hard to find just the right people with whom we can have this discussion… and did we ever!

We invited promoter, partier, and co-owner of the mas band Stronjeh, Mr. Skinny to tell us what he has observed in his twenty-seven years partying and promoting in Brooklyn. He knows every deejay, has been to every venue, and was a former fixture on the most controversial soca radio show “De Caribbean Breakfast Shed.” He shares his opinions on the “Soca Scene” on his Instagram page @daskinazzzz so we asked him to bring that same no holds barred attitude to the Rant and Rave panel - which is exactly what he did.

“LuLu”

Loretta Martin, known as “LuLu,” is always down to fete! As a former member of several party crews including Ruff Wyners, Obsessive Winers, and Team Fete, LuLu has partied in backyards, warehouses, open fields all in the name of a good time. She watched Brooklyn’s soca scene die out over the years and told promoters what they need to do to bring it back to life. “The ‘due to unforeseen circumstances’ thing is getting too redundant. I’m pretty sure that things do happen by accident, but there are things that could have been avoided.”

Natalie Lamming addressed this as she knows very well how a situation can be outside of the promoter’s control. She is former owner of Brooklyn’s D’Savannah Bar and Lounge and has since become a fixture in Brooklyn’s Caribbean entertainment scene. Her Memorial Day party “Shhh” boasts over 5,000 attendees and her New Year’s Day “Chic” event allows fete-seekers to have an upscale party experience. One of the things she wants patrons to know is that promoters are operating in good faith with venue owners. “Lots of promoters are getting hoodwinked by venue owners. Because they say ‘you’re good,’ we think ‘we’re good. But, for those who don’t know, anybody can go online on [State Liquor Authority’s] website and put in an address and find out if that place has a license on the premise.” Her advice to fellow promoters is to not be so hyped to simply have a space, but look into whether or not the venue is allowed to keep your kind of event. Also, while she does her due diligence to secure spaces she is disheartened to find patrons opt to support events that do not have to comply with the laws like she does. “Getting a liquor license is like Osama Bin Laden getting a green card. Why should I go through all this drama that opens me up to the government… and watch the backyard down the street selling liquor like it’s nothing?”

Residential parties are popping up and becoming a trend now that so many venues are closing. However, partygoers must keep in mind that they are partying in a neighborhood. Guyana-born Joan Alexander-Bakiriddin commented on this. She has been a resident of the 45th District in East Flatbush for over 30 years and is an active member of Community Board 17. “We need to be mindful that after we leave, what we’re doing is now reflective of [the promoter]. I forget that outside of your doors is a family, is a church, is just life happening,” she says. If patrons get into fights or start trouble in the neighborhood after leaving a party, that reflects badly on the promoter and the owner is less likely to be able to keep that same kind of party again.

Roy “Supa Roy” Russell

This sentiment was echoed by Roy “Supa Roy” Russell has been a staple in Brooklyn’s nightlife scene for over 15 years. “When the cops come and they see the violence, automatically the promoter gets the blame.” Although he is currently Machel Montano’s road deejay, Roy is primarily a promoter and entrepreneur. His Soca Ski Fest has become the go-to event among feters looking for a getaway weekend. He is also responsible for "Soca Bowl" and 8 other sold out boatrides, including "I Love Soca” and “Runaway Cruise.” His question was perhaps the most important: “what is the proper protocol to get the assitance from the precinct?”

A representative for the NYPD was on hand to answer this question. (Due to confidentiality, I will not disclose her name or position.) Let’s just say, sis came through with straight facts! Below are some of the key takeaways from what she and the rest of the panel shared.

Natalie Lamming, Mr. Skinny, LuLu, Joan Bakiriddin

Key takeaways:

  • Venue owners, have your licenses and isht together. If you know that a popular promoter is inviting more than 500 people and selling liquor, you need to ensure that you have your paperwork in order before you agree to hold the event. Contact the Community Affairs representative at your local precinct. This person will ensure that you have all of the information you need to properly file your paperwork prior to any social event or party.

  • Patrons, go home! Standing around after an event ends increases the likelihood of a problem occurring or of police being called by local residents. Remember that your behavior once you leave a venue reflects on the venue and the promoter. Call an Uber or Lyft if you’ve been drinking and go home.

  • Respect the venue by not messing it up. Venue owners do not want to lose money in repairs or cleaning costs after a party. Banging on the roof of a boat, picking up bolted down garbage cans, or even smoking in non-smoking establishments can cause an owner to refuse to rent to soca party promoters. Yeah, for those of you who want 100% soca parties, this is one of the reasons you’re not finding them.

  • Promoters, tell your patrons and the deejays what will and will not be tolerated. Soca music has lyrics that work best when you are at an outdoor field in the Caribbean. However, when you rent a ballroom or party hall and a deejay tells the patrons to “pick up something, start to run with it,” you cannot blame the patrons for doing just that. Miss Jean, who owns Tropical Reflections Ballroom, says that no one can play “Wet It Up” in her establishment - and she is not kidding.

  • Mas bands, your location is a business. Alcohol is not permitted on the premises unless you have a liquor license - even if you are not selling it. If someone wants to enter with a beer in hand, you must make them dispose of it prior to entering your establishment. WIADCA has an agreement with the State Liquor Authority which makes it easier for you to get that license.

Kerry D Drummer & DJ Dylan Dili

DysChick saying a prayer in the Venue Graveyard

The discussion was so intense that SocaSaySo and I were hesitant to even moderate. We wanted everyone to say their piece, including audience members. Yet we still had to cut people off so that we could get to the “rave” part of Rant and Rave. The event ended with a sick after party powered by Kerry D Drummer and DJ Dylan Dili. The duo provided the sounds for us while we wrapped up our final Rant and Rave and got ready for Labor Day weekend in Brooklyn!

It takes a village, folks. We all have a responsibility to our community and to our culture to ensure that we operate our businesses correctly, work with law enforcement to protect patrons, and be respectful of our communities once we leave a party. If not, Brooklyn’s Caribbean Nightlife may become a thing of the past.

Stay tuned to Dyschick.com/Gallery for the full panel discussion video coming soon!