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Throwback Saturdays targets the young

Published:Monday | July 23, 2018 | 12:00 AMKimberley Small/Gleaner Writer
A young man focuses on his dance skills.
He's got the moves at the Reggae Mill Bar for the most recent Throwback Saturdays.
A young lady gets some support to drop her dance moves.
Lady pals hang out at last weekend's Throwback Saturdays, held at Reggae Mill Bar, Devon House.
Revelling in rolling back the years at Throwback Saturdays.
It is selfie time at Throwback Saturdays.

Devon House is quickly evolving into a one-stop shop for entertainment options in the Corporate Area. Long accustomed to ice-cream and picnic dates, the historical site now hosts night events, thanks to the establishment of leisure spaces like Reggae Mill Bar. That watering hole has enjoyed increasing popularity as it became home to the well-supported weekly series Fridays at the Devon.

Another such popular mainstay is Throwback Saturdays. While there were some of the baby-boomer generation shaking their tail-feathers on the wooden deck of the Reggae Mill bar last Saturday, the majority of last weekend's audience were millennials. When Bad Gyal Marie manned the turntables for the entirety of the uncharacteristically sparsely populated event. Despite losing some of their crowd during the Reggae Sumfest weekend, the throwback carried on with patrons forming multiple dance circles or otherwise milling around their bistro tables laden with bottles, cups, and the like.

"You have people of all ages who love old music. I see myself as a young person who loves oldies. Oldies is my favourite kind of music," promoter Chad Williams told The Gleaner. "So we're targeting a younger market who enjoy the music. Because, at the end of the day, you can't really put an age on who enjoys oldies."

A young one herself, Bad Gyal Marie held the old-school vibe, spinning oldies like Celebration by Kool and The Gang and September by Earth, Wind & Fire. She was sure to include dancehall and reggae hits from the '80s and '90s, but the mix-mistress showed real versatility including unexpected jams like Backstreet Boys' 1999 hit I Want It That Way.

Amid a circle of her friends, one 20-something years old patron told The Gleaner it was her first visit to Throwback Saturdays. Mello Vibes, Yesterdays, and other retro-themed events are her preferred stomping grounds, but the weekly series fills the void when the more irregular retro series require some waiting. "It's a testament to how we market the brand. I think we target a younger crowd than what is expected for a throwback, oldies party," Williams advised.

Avid Instagram users may notice Throwback Saturdays-sponsored posts appearing on their timelines or in their stories, and the strategy is working. "Social media is a major part of our marketing. Typically, when you look at oldies parties, you find older forms of promotion, but we are cutting edge," Williams said. "Young people have been receptive. Our strategy, the way we market, appeals mainly to the younger crowd."

Along with cellphone broadcasts and word of mouth, Williams has determined that the brand's presence is potent and their strategy has been successful. Since its beginning in February, Williams estimates that Throwback Saturdays pulls about 400 patrons through its doors each week. "For summer and Christmas-time, as a weekly event, sometimes we have to give other big events a chance. But our numbers have been pretty consistent," Williams said.