Fri | Aug 18, 2017

Jamaica House was the place to be in Rio

Published:Sunday | August 21, 2016 | 8:00 AMShereita Grizzle
I-Octane performing in Rio.
Elaine Thompson
Usain Bolt
1
2
3
4

There may have been several other 'houses' assigned to different countries at the 2016 Olympic Games, but according to several persons on the ground in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil, there was something extra special about Jamaica House.

The Jamaica Tourist Board (JTB) and other major sponsors, including Red Stripe and Appleton, went all out in ensuring that Brand Jamaica was represented well in Rio, and based on the buzz created by guests at Jamaica House, their efforts were not in vain.

According to DJ Narity, the resident deejay at Jamaica House in Brazil, the venue was by far the most popular hang-out spot in the city and was described as the place to be outside of the Olympic Stadium.

"The patrons had a great time each night, as they wholeheartedly embraced the Jamaican vibe," Narity told The Sunday Gleaner. "You could tell that the people loved everything to do with Jamaica - the music, food, culture, and Team Jamaica - particularly Usain Bolt!."

According to Narity, the entertainment spot was so popular, that on any given night, there was a steady stream of patrons lined up outside the venue hoping to be admitted.

"The lines circle the venue every single night, and we've seen where the gates had to be closed most nights, to ensure we don't exceed," he revealed. "We got great patronage every single night. There was an average of about 600 to 650 persons each night, but we've seen up to 800 people at Jamaica House."

On nights when there were live performances inside Jamaica House, there was an admission fee of US$15, but as Narity revealed, that did not hinder persons from turning out in their numbers. The spot was so popular that tickets for any given night were sold out in a matter of minutes. Jamaican nationals were admitted to the 'House' for free.

Dancehall artiste, I-Octane, was one of three performers at Jamaica House. He took to the stage as the sole performer last Tuesday night and delivered a 45-minute set. In a post-performance interview, I-Octane said that even though many inside the packed house did not speak English, they all seemed to know even a line or two of his songs and made sure to sing along. He also mentioned that despite the fact that most of the other countries participating in the Olympics had their own special 'house', Jamaica House seemed to be "the most popular, or among the most popular".

Octane expressed how grateful he was at being given the opportunity to perform in Rio and vowed to return in the near future. Like I-Octane, Narity also enjoyed his Rio experience. The deejay, who plays with the sound system, Third Dimension, said the experience was an amazing one.

"Brazil is a great place to be, especially during the Olympics," he said. "It's a great honour to be working with Jason Hall and the JTB, representing Brand Jamaica, and an extra-special opportunity to be doing it during the 2016 Olympics."

The deejay, who was tasked with making sure the vibes inside the venue stay at a maximum each night, revealed that while guests enjoyed his musical offerings, songs from Bob Marley and Beenie Man were among the most popular.

"The Jamaica House patrons are appreciative of all types of music, but they really get excited when I play Bob Marley, Beenie Man or my reggae remix of Work, by Rihanna and Drake. The songs Black, Green and Gold, by Christopher Martin and Reggae Rio, by Slashe, were also amongst the favourites," he said.

"And although the favourite (genres) tend to be reggae, dancehall, reggaeton, a bit of soca, and hip-hop, I play a mixture of music. I try to incorporate songs that has a Jamaican influence, which nowadays, can fall into any genre."

Narity also went on to say that while the vibe inside Jamaica House was always at its peak, there was an extra burst of energy on the nights when a Jamaican athlete was in the finals of an event, especially in cases where the legendary Usain Bolt was slated to run.

"On a finals night, the mood is a bit more celebratory; and when the Jamaican fans arrived from the stadium, the after party vibe really began," he said.

With the Olympic Games coming to a close tonight, the deejay is expecting the party inside Jamaica House to be unlike any of the previous nights. A send-off party scheduled for tonight is expected to pull a larger-than-usual crowd, with several of the Olympic stars, as well as diplomats from several countries across the world, expected to pass through the venue.

Over the past week, several notable persons have been guests at Jamaica House, including Prime Minister Andrew Holness, Minister Olivia 'Babsy' Grange, Director of Tourism Paul Pennicook, as well as Barbados' Minister of Sport Stephen Lashley. Gary and Tina Matalon, businessmen Joe Bogdanovich and Robert Russell, as well as the Jamaica Olympic Association President Mike Fennell and Jamaica Paralympic Association President Christopher Samuda, have also been guests at the venue. Numerous Olympians, including those from several other countries across the world, have also visited Jamaica House.

"It was really the place to be in Rio if you weren't at the stadium, which you could tell just from the guest list," said Narity.

***(Houses are entertainment venues where supporters from each country can go to to have fun while watching the Olympic games.)

entertainment@gleanerjm.com