Sheena Gayle, Gleaner Writer
After a protracted absence from the city's cultural landscape, the once popular MoBay Nite Out is back, breathing life into the Hip Strip, the hub of entertainment in the tourist capital.
The event, which was recently relaunched and had its first staging on December 17, 2012, will next be staged on January 21. The second staging falls squarely on the radar of the 2013 Jamaica Jazz and Blues Festival, which is a signature entertainment event in western Jamaica.
Councillor Suzette Brown of the St James Parish Council, who chairs the committee responsible for MoBay Nite Out, described the December 17 staging as a success, arguing that it showed the capacity to re-energise the dormant Hip Strip, providing small and large businesses with another avenue to conduct commercial activities.
"The public really came out to support the event in December and we intend to make this a permanent fixture in the city so that everyone can participate in bringing back some life, culture and entertainment along the Hip Strip," Brown said. "This is in line with brand Jamaica and is helping to offer packaged entertainment to locals and tourists alike."
Councillor Brown told Western Focus that for many years, Gloucester Avenue has not been living up to its famous 'Hip Strip' title. However, with the reintroduction of MoBay Nite Out, it has once again come alive.
Factors such as strong public support, security, entertainment, and art and craft items done by artists were all key components to the success of the first staging and according to Brown, will remain essential tenets to the future of MoBay Nite Out.
"There were no incidents, thanks to the presence of several security personnel, who paraded along the area throughout the evening. We want the public to know that this is a safe activity for everyone to be a part of," said Brown.
The return of MoBay Nite Out was highlighted by a Digicel-sponsored concert at the renovated Old Hospital site. There were also sound systems mounted on trucks, providing entertainment at various spots along the strip.
There was no shortage of authentic Jamaican entertainment during the night, something Brown added was important in getting everyone active.
"Our sponsors - Digicel, Red Stripe and Caribbean Producers - really rallied around the committee in getting this activity back up and running, and we want to encourage other sponsors to come on board and be a part of this event," said Brown. "It goes beyond reviving the Hip Strip. It helps to bring the city together."