Passa Passa meets Sumfest at Club S | Entertainment

Western Bureau:

A Zion church stands on the left side of the street, a traditional boxer-brief clothing line uses the remains of a lamppost as a cane, and a Gogo club beckons across the street.

An imaginary line separates the two roads leading to the new Club S at the S Hotel in Montego Bay, another ingenuity by Christopher Issa.

The hotelier’s blend of personality, color and originality shows off his creative juices as he brings his own take on the now-defunct weekly dance Passa Passa, complete with various reggae festival scenes As a backdrop, including the Ultimate Reggae Sumfest, it’s all set in a club located on a boulevard that has been named after one of the island’s most famous figures in the entertainment industry, Jimmy Cliff.

Club S officially opened in September, catering exclusively to S Hotel guests and private sector coordinators looking for a “breakthrough” event venue. The venue houses a typical downtown Jamaican bar, a rotisserie chicken joint, a corner shop and a wine bar, as well as a “rude bwoy” who looks ready to hit the dance floor, while the uptown folk are upstairs Wing viewing from the VIP area.

There is absolutely no other place like it in Jamaica and Issa is known for breaking the status quo. It is known that when the businessman opened the S Hotel five years ago, he was determined to change the face of the tourist capital of Montego Bay.

“We needed an entertainment space, but we also knew we wanted to continue down the path of Jamaican culture, from soundtrack clubs to pasa pasa combined with Sumfest, so we brought in the main event, incorporating sound and lights, trusses, stages and everything audio-visual effects,” said Issa, who also owns and operates the popular Spanish Court Hotel in St. Andrew Sunday Gleaner.

He said that through different elements, he and his team described the Jamaican experience as a result of the dividing line in the center of the road. Club S is one of several “Roots” offerings the businessman has launched on the stretch known as the “Hip Strip,” which recently added a Roots Rock restaurant.

The building that houses Club S is 18 feet tall, giving it an open-air effect, and Issa collaborated with many incredible artists, including Rohan Blair, who created many of the sets and rustic touches. Accomplished sculptor Scheed Cole created lively girls and rough-and-tumble boys on the street corners, the latter looking full of life. “Cole put a lot of effort into this guy and making his face look half-drunk, really capturing the look and feel,” Issa shared.

It’s Cole’s light pole, an old street lamp, two dogs and some chickens lounging under the chicken roaster’s pan that greets guests as they enter the club.

“Artists are free to reinvent their ideas. There are elements of Port Royal here as well, with the Bob Marley mural on the right near the stage. And then on the left, there’s a Trench Town scene with Different artists. So we tried to capture different aspects,” explains the man who has decorated the corridors of his award-winning boutique hotel with sculptures honoring Louise Bennett Coverley, Alexander Bou Stament, Jimmy Cliff, Norman Manley and Usain Bolt.

Issa said the S Club will be available for rent for outside events, and he is also considering the concept of using it in the future to offer a Jamaican street experience, serving street food such as boiled corn, jizzada, grilled chicken, “almost like Same as stopping at Faith’s Pen.”

But why does Issa feel the need to showcase Jamaican culture in such a rich way?

“When I was in college in the United States, on my last day on the train home from Illinois Center, the last thing my roommate and friend, an African American from Detroit, said to me was, ‘You should write A book about how Jamaicans speak.’ ”

Just before the train doors closed, he added, “You know tourists always imitate the way you talk.”

Issa went on to write and publish 10 books How to speak Jamaican, How to be Jamaicanplus a variable named How to enjoy Jamaica With Tony Hendrix. His first book sold 3,000 copies in its first run.

“I think a lot of people are becoming more aware of our culture, especially today, but a lot of times we don’t really know how to teach or package that culture,” I said.

He said that when Bob Marley started his business, he was just beginning to solidify his status as a world-famous icon, which was when he really began to realize the potential of Jamaican culture.

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