"So much things to say right now. We’ve got so much things to say." Bob Marley

Keeping you up to date with the latest Jamaica Society Leeds news, blogs and guest writers.

Pop-Up success for the Out of Many Festival

The Jamaica Society is delighted to have brought a taste of the Caribbean island to Leeds on Saturday (August 13) as part of the Out of Many Festival, with our Pop-Up West Indian Front Room Party event taking place at Victoria Gardens.

The fun-filled event saw crowds singing and dancing along to a community-curated playlist, with DJ Fluid Irie and the festival’s Out of Many Choir providing a tuneful musical backdrop.

They were joined by pioneering dancer David Hamilton MBE who choreographed dance moves for maximum audience participation, as well as singer songwriter Corinne Bailey Rae who dropped in to the event.

Festival director Susan Pitter explains the history and importance of the best room in the house:

“We know that, back in the day, for lots of families no matter where you came from, the front room or the living room was the best room, and it is where you might have entertained people,” she said.

“For Jamaican and other West Indian families that came over, particularly in the first generation in the late 40s, 50s and 60s, that was the centre of the home and was where everybody would gather.

“It was a way of saying ‘this is safety in numbers’. They weren’t welcomed in a lot of places where you could go to relax, to have a drink to entertain and so on.

“And so people used to come round, everybody would gather in the front room,  sometimes it would be a spontaneous party other times it would be planned to celebrate christenings and weddings and so on but it was very much a hallowed ground, children weren’t always allowed in there unless it was a special occasion and it was very much filled with stories and laughter and music from the Caribbean and Jamaica – and of course there was the food.

“Saturday’s event was about trying to recreate the atmosphere, the feel and the vibe of it. We had a brilliant DJ, DJ Fluid Irie with a playlist of Jamaican music from ska, reggae and rocksteady, from Millie Small’s My Boy Lollipop to Bob Marley’s One Love.

“The playlist was mainly curated by the local community because we asked people to tell us about their favourite front room memories, their favourite track that reminded them of their front room and so the music has come from the heart of the community.”

The Out of Many Festival continues to celebrate the cultural impact Jamaica has had on the UK and the world and is being held this year as it marks 60 years of independence from Britain.

Details of the festival’s next events here.