Mel Cooke, Gleaner Writer
Club Eras opens officially tomorrow
There was a time when Earl 'Father Earl' Samuels would follow DJ Squeeze's musical trail. "I used to idolise this man back in the 1970s, 1980s. I have a respect for him from that time. When we had Asylum, he created history on the Wednesday night, for a deejay to play so long and every night ram," Samuels said.
So when the Night Time Promotions (famed for the Cactus, Asylum and Quad nightclubs) association ended and Squeeze approached him, saying he had some ideas, "I said, let's go". Tomorrow, the first idea, Club Eras, opens officially at 73 Knutsford Boulevard in New Kingston. The club has been operating since late June, but is now going full speed ahead.
In some aspects of the enterprise, their first project together, the fan has become the teacher. Squeeze, who has a pristine reputation as a DJ from Mellow Canary and Skyy discos and MegaJamz radio, among other musical pursuits, readily concedes that this is new territory for him. "This is another direction of the Squeeze musical journey. I do not think I could do it if I did not have Earl as a partner. There are a lot of things that I don't see which he has seen," he said. Squeeze pointed to the differences between running a nightclub and a sound system, such as dealing with staffing matters.
"It is more intense for me than prior projects," he said.
But where audio is concerned, Squeeze is in his element. "I am responsible for the sound. I put an awesome sound in the club. Not deafening - it is truly well-tuned. It is intense, but not deafening," Squeeze said.
Club Eras is not stuck in any particular era, Samuels saying the name was chosen because "we want it to approach any era of music, from then to now". Squeeze differentiates between the retro era - about the 1970s to 1990s - and the golden oldies of the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s, which outfits and people such as Merritone, Gladdy Parker and Senor Daley are experts in. He is in a good position to make the distinction, noting that "when I started this old-school movement with Staying Alive at (now defunct) Pepper's in 1994, it was about playing music from the '70s and '80s".
The club will have its golden oldies (Sunday, called 'Hot Steppin', done in association with Hot 102) and retro (Thursday, dubbed 'Ladies Retro') nights, as well as a fusion of retro and current hot stuff on Saturday nights. On Mondays, there is Blue Acid, electronic music with Alrick and Boyd, with Wednesday nights dedicated to 'Foundation', hosted by Ricky Trooper.
Club Eras starts the weekend with Wacky Fridays After Work Jam, hosted by Ity and Fancy Cat, along with Pretty Boy Floyd. It is a familiar name, from the not-so-long-ago days of Asylum, Samuels saying "It used to work, so why not use it back?". The sound will be adjusted as required for the electronic night, for example.
There is scope for live performance, with a vintage-themed 'Intimate Sundays' slated for the last Sunday of each month. Also, on Fridays there will be performances by younger artistes, Aidonia and RDX slated for next Friday.
Despite being a hub of nightlife, in the Corporate Area, New Kingston has its issues, which Squeeze readily acknowledges. However, he said "one of the things is that New Kingston is now ready for something fresh on the block" and he is confident that, with the police and citizens pulling together, "we should be able to achieve a change in the community".
"With the help of all its stakeholders, New Kingston should return to its glory days," he said.
For tomorrow's opening night, the DJ line-up includes Squeeze, Senor Daley, Marlon Young, Mix Master Marvin, Smurf and Alrick and Boyd. On Sunday, Witty (of Soul Tone, who hosts the popular Uptown Mondays party) Senor Daley and Donovan Dacres will be in Club Eras.
With a capacity of 600 when packed - Squeeze said he does not want it to go beyond 550 persons, for comfort - Club Eras has no smoking on the lower level, the fumes allocated to the upper level. Samuels said that parking for the club is at 19 Trinidad Terrace, the ladies escorted by security personnel back and forth. Admission is the same every night, except when there is a special occasion. "We try to keep our prices down, $500 for every night," Samuels said.
Entry to Club Eras is free for men and women until 8 p.m. this Sunday, the free entry for women extending to 10 p.m.
Although the intention of Club Eras, like any other business, is to make a profit, Samuels said there is more to the enterprise. "We do this because we love people, we love entertainment, we love to see people having fun," he said.