Picture this: You are in this place and all around you are people rocking slowly to the sound of Ken Booth’s version of Everything I Own.
All the girls’ man are locked down with their women; then there’s the steppers with their hands cocked as if they are holding an M-16; the hopefuls across the line pointing to the single women across the lawn to let them know their intentions for the night; and the apprentice struggling with two cases of Guinness for the Dads and his crew.
All of a sudden there is a change in the music, and Cancer takes to the mike bigging up all the hot steppers. The slow mourning sound of Black Uhuru General Penitentiary flows from the dual 18-inch speakers in the column of boxes positioned in the four corners of the lawn.
There is the sound of gunshots going off, and this time it is not fingers and mouth but the real M-16’s. The crowd starts to sing the chorus in their own words “Generaaaaal – General deh a penitentiary”.
Wee Powe lowers the volume on the mixer to allow the crowd to hear themselves and then wheels and come again from the top, The Junglists are ecstatic because this is a tribute to them. Slowly the other song comes across and the place goes wild.
John Holt’s militant voice of defiance emanates from the speakers. No longer the lover boy from the Paragons, but a hardcore and staunch believer in the divinity of His Imperial Majesty and the healing powers of the collie weed, “If they continue to burn up the herb, we gonna burn down the cane field.”
All the chalices and the bighead spliffs become visible and the smell of Indika, jerk chicken and the fumes from gunshots becomes entangled like an incestuous perfume.
This is where love and hate collides. This is where relief is found from the pangs of poverty and the political hypocrisies are exposed. This is where the message takes flight to conquer the world, not with a sword, but an acetate dubplate.
This is Stone Love at The Tropics Nightclub in 1985.