Sweet 16 for Uptown Mondays
In its 16th year, Uptown Mondays remains at the top of the list of weekly events visited by transatlantic tourists seeking 'the real dancehall experience'.
This Monday, Heroes Day, Whitfield 'Whitty' Henry invites regulars, occasional visitors and first-timers to the official 16th anniversary celebration, taking place at the unchanged Savannah Plaza, Constant Spring Road venue.
Whitty, founder of the long-running event, told THE WEEKEND STAR that it took five or six years before Uptown Mondays developed the clout it maintains to this day.
Before Uptown Mondays, Whitty was already involved in entertainment. He runs Soul Tone Wine Bar, located on the same compound.
"I'm on that location for 30 years I had a record corporation there first and I have my club in there," he said. He also owned and operated a record store on Utica Avenue in New York for 10 years.
Dancers from foreign countries are often spotted at Uptown Mondays, showing off their dancehall skills or learning new ones.
Whitty claims this occurs frequently at his event because of a working relationship with the Jamaica Tourist Board.
"Something going on for 16 years, somebody has to hear about it," Whitty said. "The Tourist Board works with us. So if a dancer buss with a new dance, they always consider it and bring it here. Then, the dancers apply their trade and take it abroad. When dancers go to Uptown Mondays, it becomes easy to prove they're dancers because the embassies know of us."
He suggested that the weekly event's success is the by-product of persistence.
"It was a struggle, but we overcome all possibilities. And it's continuous, having the best selectors, great security," he explained.
During the anniversary celebration on Monday, Whitty plans to give away one 'yeng yeng' bike and a 60-inch smart TV.
"We'll be having a good time celebrating 16 years and it's gonna be awesome," he said. Whitty also revealed that there will be an awards ceremony at 1 a.m. sharp, with over 30 trophies to be distributed.