28 Jul Keeping The Jamaican Vibes Alive
The ways you can keep the Jamaican vibes alive when you’re off island varies depending on where you live. But, here’s some inspiration on how our team does it – starting with Nicole sharing her Caribbean experiences in Stockholm, Sweden.
So what happens when you visit the island – relish in its beauty, cherish the flavours, connect with the people, enjoy the music, and then… you come back home. The Caribbean is so vividly colourful, so home -whereever that is for you, let’s just say – home will get a run for its money trying to match the richness of this part of the world.
To not fall completely into post-Jamaica depression (what we call the state of boredom and dullness that comes when you’ve been away from the island for too long), some of us create strategies to keep the vibes alive and remain a part of Jamaica with us at home.
After 3 months traveling the Caribbean, I thought I was over reggae and dancehall, curry chicken and goat… But once I left the islands, I found myself instantly drawn to places where I again could bask in the cultures. Caribbean communities aren’t as well represented here in Stockholm, Sweden as it is in say New York – but I have found some gems I visit whenever I need to get my Caribbean fix.
Jamaican artists do find their way to Scandinavia – just lately I went to see Konshens and I-Octane (kind of funny, as I couldn’t find a single live show with any of my favourite artists when I was in Jamaica – who knew I’d be seeing them during the winter in Stockholm instead?). It was a great night with Ital stew and Red Stripe at the bar, and afterpartying with the artists and crew, sharing stories about our countries and our experiences of them.
But what initially sparked my curiosity for the Caribbean and my love for its music, long before I ever went there, was the nightclub and movement Mosquito. For years their clubs, carnevals and block parties have been my go-to-places whenever I want to drop legs to the best riddims together with an international crowd.
So how real is it? Well let’s put this way – a friend I made in Port Antonio loves it so much she’s been flying over from Estonia to Stockholm several times since we came back to Europe, only to have a Jamaican revival at the clubs with me. Mosquito is actually a great example of the long lasting, positive impact local traveling could have on you – the founder Thomas Gylling, shares that his Jamaica/Caribbean fascination started in the late 70’s at Grandma Porter’s Guesthouse in Negril. Now, besides adding colour to Sweden’s nightlife, Mosquito is using the Caribbean vibes as a vehicle to make Stockholm a more open, fulljoyable and inclusive city. Big up!
Jamrock is a great Jamaican/Caribbean restaurant in central Stockholm I visit every now and then. Ending a long work week with their “Finger licking fried chicken” and a rum drink, instantly takes me back to Kingston and how we started our Friday nights out. And it’s the real deal – the chefs are Jamaican, meaning the food is just as spicy and delicious as it should. And the staff adds to the experience of having been instantly transported to the island, with their friendliness and laidback professionalism. Happy as I am, they also have a food truck in the city and are soon opening a deli store with food and condiments – meaning, I’ll finallly be able to prep my own Caribbean kitchen!
One of the biggest highlights of traveling the real Jamaica is the friends you’ll make, and staying in touch with them has been another way of having a piece of Jamaica at home. To lift my spirit and pass time during early morning commuting to work, I sometimes Skype with my Jamaican friends, to hear what’s new, and of course, practice patois. I’d like to think the randomness of a blonde woman suddenly bursting out a thickly accented “Waah gwaaan mi yute?” in the packed metro will lift the spirits of some fellow commuters as well.
These are some examples of what you can do to turn up the heat at home when you miss the vibrance of Jamaica. So tell us – how do you keep the vibes alive when you’re off island?
I’m a freelance writer, social changemaker and world traveler.