Turn up the party - call to introduce decibel meters and amend Noise Abatement Act
The Negril Entertainment Association (NEA) has called for an inclusion of the use of decibel metres to measure sound levels in any proposed amendment to the Noise Abatement Act, as this is the key ingredient which will enable party promoters and non-partygoers to peacefully co-exist.
According to president of the organisation, Ryan Morrison, the key element of the act which prohibits the emanating of sound "audible beyond a distance of 100 metres from the source" is subjective, and so is impractical to enforce. He says that section of the act is not measurable and because it depends on persons' interpretation, it can be easily manipulated. "An annoyance can mean anything ... me and you know say a man a run a 4X100 metre relay, you can speak to di man dung a di next side - to use a simple analogy. So, the law is not practical, because there is no way that I can talk and you hear it a hundred metres away, and then you can tell me that you going lock down an event because there is a disturbance, and that as long as it is audible 100 metres away I have breached the Noise Abatement Act," Morrison stated.
"If they said it must not measure more than, for example, 60 decibels beyond 100 metres, then that is something that we can live with. That little part "audible beyond a hundred metres" is a problem - we must have an agreed decibel level," he added.
"That's what we want. Some measurable thing for sound rather than 'audible beyond a hundred metres', that is, decibel metres." The NEA's push comes against recent statements by the Negril police that would be making strict enforcement of the act, and renewed complaints by party promoters that they were suffering heavy losses due to early shutdown of events.
six basic principles
Morrison outlined to Western Focus, a NEA-conceptualised proposal with six basic principles entitled 'Promoting a Music Friendly Environment', which makes recommendations for a peaceful co-existence and which will be presented to the Jamaica Hotel and Tourist Association, the Police High Command and the entertainment ministry.
"One, turn down the bass. Two, no lewd content at open air events. Three, better training for people who use microphones - we feel that some of these selectors are not internationally sensitive, and so they say things that are not fit for an international audience. They want training, either TPDCO Team Jamaica training or we design a training specifically for emcees," Morrison said.
"Fourth, we want to know our promoters; that mean say a nuh nuh hustler, or no teefin money - and is a legitimate business. And promoters will be registered with the Government. Number five, we need to know our customers, so that no pickney naw go no event, because we ask for some form of identification. Sixth, but not least, we have agreed decibel levels, agreed to among neighbours," he explained.
This is not the first that the issue of noise nuisance has come to the fore in Negril. In a Gleaner article published in June 2013, some stakeholders complained of being unable to sleep peacefully at nights due to excessive noise from open air events being staged along the Norman Manley Boulevard in the resort town. While empathising with the party promoters and taking into account what she said was the importance of entertainment to the town, operator of Rondel Village Resort, Carolyn Wright, had called for a lowering of the music volume at nights, to enable non-partygoers, including residents, workers and guests, to sleep uninterrupted.
be more accommodating
Another promoter, Dr David Garwood, has called for tourists and residents to be more accommodating, and for tourists to attend the parties and view them as part of their vacation experience. Like Dr Garwood, one American tourist, Dave Etzler, who has been visiting the town for more than 30 years, also said the music was a part of the Jamaican culture and should be "honoured, respected and enjoyed like the food" and that those who did not want to experience the true Jamaican culture should "stay home".
The man's position is one with which Morrison agrees. He also said if hotels upgraded to sound-proof, energy-efficient windows, much of the sound effects would be reduced. "If music is gonna be a part of your culture, we know we cannot keep an event in Negril, and lock it off at 12:00, and make any money; you gonna lose. It's a known fact and cultural practice. If you go to a Jamaican party at 11 o'clock a night, a you one inna di dance. "You don't go to the Japanese and tell them 'change your culture'. You don't go to China and tell them to change their culture! The Jamaican culture is that we go out late! When you come to a place, you don't try to change the culture; you try and adapt and work with the culture.
"Negril was always here as a town that plays live music from ever since. Who can tell of a day when Negril wasn't playing music? This is Jamaica weh music play! Is like a man go dung a Barnett Street go build a house and say him want peace and quiet," he said.