When art is displayed in the open there is more fanfare and exposure. Art laid out in the open has the potential to transform the whole landscape. On the other hand art displayed within closed or confined spaces does the world little good.
Art is one of those avenues where I have felt unshackled from the normal day to day worries. In the open world of art I can express myself. There are no limits to human interaction. Art is societies muse.
In enclosed spaces, there are rules, there are strictures. There’s a curator who’s like, “don’t touch that frame there.” There are tags and at the end of the day you have to go home.
Open spaces embody a nobler vision. It is the personification of the sentiment that we should live art. We should think freely, live and breath the music, paint with freedom and travel worlds unknown. When art is a more public affair this representation is mimicked in the sense that people get to eat, sleep and wake to the music as it is made and have a more personal interaction with the musicians as they craft their art.
Speaking to my good friend Chizi, back when he still had dreads, he intimated the desire to move away from the whole idea of organising shows in enclosed spaces. He mentioned that he’s been organising shows in clubs time out of mind and it has occurred to him that things need to move on from there. We need to grow and spread those wings.
Some of these thoughts came to mind as I sat neatly perched on the balcony of club sevens along moi avenue, my gaze interrupted by the occasional passing of a girl in a red dress. A cold beer rested in the firm grasp of my hand as DJ Eddygrim played his mixes on the deck. I was in the company of one or two metalheads. I come out here wishing to extend a weekend of letting loose. This isn’t my first time at a place such as this and I have to say I had my reservations about the patrons willingness to allow for a bit of Sunday evening rowdiness. Clubs are normally comfortable with whatever sort of shenanigans as long as you are buying drinks (and attendants are all too willing to indulge them for the hope that they may get lucky at the end of the day and with the obvious wisdom that attends one or two bottles of barley.)
Manning the doors are firm bodied men dressed mostly in black. I suspect the choice of attire and the rough manners they put on is intended to keep people in check. They will also be keen on reminding you that they are in charge when they occasionally grab a reveller by the chin and shove them out of the establishment to commune with mongrels and hobos. All these theatrics, shows of force and arbitrary enforcement of the law is to remind you, as you take a sip of your beer that you are under their watchful eye. This is not home and whatever illusions you may begin to habour because the beer makes you comfortable will be quickly dispelled.
Now the problem is doubled because our little band of revellers that like to enjoy a bit of aggressive music and slam dancing are not a respecter of persons. So much so that at some point bar owners predict that we may not be the most ideal patrons and that is when they begin to kick people out. I felt particularly aggrieved because I was under the impression that the waiters and bar patrol had assumed that my pocket threshold only allowed for a maximum of two beers and once I had crossed that threshold it was time to ship me out.
In classical ministration, said bouncers began to issue forth plaititudes like, ‘muache kutusumbua’ and ‘kama hamnunui pombe mtoke’. And not to let such moments go without being nourished with a few nuggets of wisdom, Lawrence Muchemi (Irony Destroyed ) came to the support of said bouncers saying ‘‘this isn’t a place for the scene any more. You guys are broke and you are here just seated listening to music. Be serious. These guys are trying to make money. We have to leave and go grow the scene elsewhere.”
He was obviously drunk. But what he said has a point. This isn’t to overly criticise clubs because god knows how important establishments like Rezorus, Choices and Brew Bistro have been for the cultivation of the scene. But I think the signs have begun to show that we should try something new. Give people an experience that isn’t defined by four walls, economic constraints and Olympian enforcers. A place you can pass out and wake up and the music is still playing. A place where you can bring your own beer, get kinky in the bush, or roll up a joint without judgment.
Its time the scene left for a place that allows for more social awkwardness and inclusivity. Places where ordinary folk like us aren’t roughly handled.
As the scene has grown from just a bunch of musicians needing to play guitars to hosting international acts, we need to think differently. We need to think about not only the music but the social context in which it is nurtured and shared and leave out the wide discrimination that has kept out many students, performers and practitioners. To take the art to more public spaces where the norms aren’t made by business men and enforced by bullies. And only return when we are capable of setting the rules. Right now lets build ourselves elsewhere.