Parties before payday
While there is a consistent slate of formalised entertainment events across the island, the boom from the boxes and bubbling of the booties hit a crescendo during holiday periods. Naturally then, after each peak there is a lull, then the next holiday comes around again, the event advisories come in and the circuit cranks up again.
The thing is though, that we have so many public holidays (or a specially designated days like Valentine's) that there is not much let-up in between the peaks. After Christmas and New Year's Day, it is back to school and then, soon enough, Ash Wednesday rolls around in mid-February - a few days after the time of red roses and insta-love. Good Friday and Easter Monday are two days apart in early April, Labour Day is in the later part of May. Similarly, Emancipation and Independence Days are close enough together to make one long party of it - the peak of a summer school holiday period which is one extended session in itself.
Then comes the back to school expenditure in September, followed by the holiday we are looking towards now, National Heores' Day, and then the Christmas peak period comes around again, and off we go around the track.
The biggest lull of all is after 'free paper bun' and the new academic year begins. Whether or not they are parents of or are responsible for students at any level of the school system, there are hardly any adults who are not pressed for cash when the September spending comes inexorably around.
Jollification all around
And now it is the weekend of the first public holiday after the books have been bought and the receipts for fee payment handed in. It is supposed to be about celebrating our many heroes and sole heroine, but while there are a few events dedicated to just that or attempt to incorporate an acknowledgement of these people, most of it is just happy-go-lucky jollification all around.
A few of the events on a jam-packed weekend are the Guinness Sounds of Greatness finals at Mas Camp tomorrow night. On Saturday, among the extensive slate of parties and concerts are Heroes Splash on the Bog Walk bypass in St Catherine and the retro music party Rewind in May Pen (which is shaping up to be a great one, with Kurt Riley, Colin Hines and Arif Cooper in one venue).
On Monday, the Port Royal Seafood Festival is in Kingston, the Kingston Jerk and Gospel Music Festival is at Ranny Williams Entertainment Centre, Jamaica Family Fest is at Mandeville Primary and Junior High School, and there is a family funfest at Turtle River Park in Ocho Rios.
And these are just a few of the events that are on.
A most curious thing about it all, though, is that this is the weekend before the standard 25th of the month payday. Granted, much of the population is not on the monthly salary treadmill, but even those who are not tend to depend on those who are for their income, either as a gift or to buy their products.
So how, at a time when the salaried people tend to be as desperate for payday as Justin Gatlin was for the finish line at the World Championships when Bolt put on the pressure, there are all these events (and remember that the ones mentioned are a minuscule representation of the entertainment event schedule)? The organisers must have a reasonable expectation of attracting an audience and turning a profit, expectations which would have been shaped by established patterns of going out.
Previously, I wrote about the proliferation of entertainment events in the country and wondered where the party money is coming from. I am even more mystified about the entertainment spending pattern at this pre-payday time of the month. Maybe people have prepared for it. Maybe I am being presumptuous and underestimating the general salary level and most people are comfortable three weeks after the last payday.
Or maybe the informal economy (lottery scamming and all) is so strong that it can fuel much of the frolicking around National Heroes' Day.
Maybe those who hustle are the real Jamaican heroes.