African-Caribbean Society: Culture Club Launch Review

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The first ACS event of the year took place last Saturday, on the 12th October with The Culture Club Launch, as mentioned in my last article, and I must say, it clearly set the tone for the exciting, dynamic, new ACS of 2013/14.

It was held in The Bridge bar, the perfect location for the vibe they were going for: cosy, intimate and refreshingly chilled. All accompanied by a local pianist, Callum Ferreira, who serenaded the audience with jazz melodies as we all flooded in to the promising event.

The opening performances included Deborah Oyenuga, who blew us away with her stunning vocal chords and ‘Banwo the Poet’, who seduced us with his romantic lyrics. It was definitely off to a great start. Zara Benjamin-Laing noted them as her favourite performances, as did a few others, because she felt they were ‘more relatable to me as a young woman, than some of the older acts.’

My favourite part about this was that the ACS did manage to showcase some homegrown talent. Though there were a few notable performers brought in from other parts of the country, a lot of the gifted acts that graced the stage came right here from Southampton, including Banwo, who is currently studying Law LLB (in between writing great poetry, of course) at the University of Southampton.

So after momentum was sufficiently gained and our artistic appetites were well and truly stimulated, the main act, Grammy award nominated dub poet Linton Kwesi-Johnson, took to the microphone and gave us all a lesson in the true and original purpose of poetry itself.

culture club launch

Now, I must point out here that I may be a little biased due to my deep rooted love for old, wise Caribbean men. The accent, the knowledge, the activism…I mean what is there not to love? Thus, when this man graced the stage and calmly but firmly instructed us not to clap until he reached the end of his set, you just couldn’t help but obey in humble entrancement.

And entrancing, it was. This was my first time listening to dub poetry and though I wouldn’t say I am now a fan, the wide range of culturally and politically relevant topics covered certainly kept you engaged. He wrote poetry in response to parliament; brutality in riots; discrimination, police violence and so much more. It was a surreal experience, because most of the spoken word I hear nowadays is about love, sex, identity, school etc. However, here was this man, who’d written such a riveting and influential book of poetry that not only clearly and emotionally communicated his feelings about the racial climate that existed in his time, but also encouraged us to stand up and do something about things we do not see as right or fair in ours. He certainly brought out the rebel in all of us whilst giving the crowd a very impressive performance.

This was my first time listening to dub poetry. Though I wouldn’t say I am now a fan, the wide range of culturally and politically relevant topics covered certainly kept you engaged.

All in all, it was an enjoyable night out, and a break from the usual clubbing/party scene that is associated with a lot of ACS events. You could tell from the beginning what sort of atmosphere they were going for, and though I’m not sure they quite reached it, I am confident that as future Culture Club shows are put on, the smoky jazz bar ambience will become increasingly evident. There was also a sufficient range of acts; from the soulful songstress to the comical and romantic poets, they definitely catered to a lot of tastes.

The main act, however, brought it all together. Although it may have seemed that he was there for the older members of the crowd, there was a lot of wisdom and encouragement to activism to even us younger generation, who are, after all, the future.

So for the first event of the year, I can safely say, ACS posted, packaged and delivered. They were prompt, they were organised and they were considerate of all age groups and preferences. They most definitely brought their A-game and I am confident it will only go uphill from here.

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