The rest of the crew were out of town or otherwise engaged. I was fighting off a cold. That’s how I ended up on my own in Dalston at 10:30. The first one through the gate. The shame of it!
I had a nice chat with the guy on the door about recent sessions, setting up, etc while he waited for the rubber stamp. Turns out he used to do the sound at Labyrinth. You can’t underestimate the north London junglist/reggae crossover, people. Lineage!
The venue seemed to be some sort of community centre – the sound was upstairs in a big room with a low ceiling and yer traditional ex-warehouse pillars. VC’s “By His Deeds” was busting out of the speakers as I went in, much to the surprise of the bar crew.
A couple of other loners turned up soon after and could be largely be divided into two categories: The ones that stood on one side, nodding their heads, and the ones who fiddled nervously with their mobile phones or peered into the darkness of the session from the safety of the bar area.
Slowly slowly the session filled up. Slowly slowly the selector increased the pressure. Gobsmacking selection on the Tempo riddim early on – they weren’t holding back the quality tunes until the place filled up, that’s for sure!
There were about 30 of us there when he dropped some cuts of the Ngozi riddim – Bushman and some others niced up the place, but they were just a warm up for the arrival of the first MC of the night. When he came in over the version, the hair on my arms literally stood on end. Gobsmackingly good – it felt like a real privilege to hear this stuff in the right environment.
And so it continued – classic 70s roots with fantastic chatting over the dubs., 21st Century JA pres, quality UK roots. And I do mean quality – the variety is one of the reasons why Solution is my favourite sound – it’s not constant steppers like Shaka or University of Dub events. I was slightly gutted to find that the cuts I have of the Kennedy International Mr Bassie are by no means the best!
By midnight the room was nicely full – great atmosphere and you could still move. Good gender mix, people dancing… Burning Spear riddim selection (“Travelling”, etc). The Mad Professor tune which the Orb sampled for the “Blue Room” with the female vocal which goes “ow wow ooh wow ooh ah”. I lost track of time, skanking in my corner, nodding, smiling at people, lending my knackered lighter.
Losing track of time is the best bit of a good roots session. You can forget who you are, and I don’t get that from anything else any more. It’s a cliché, all that stuff about forgetting your troubles, but it’s true.
Unfortunately the MC brought me back to earth with a bump. “Fire! Fire! Fire fi de battyman! Fire! Fire! Fire fi de lesbian!”
One isolated comment in the middle of a brilliant session. But it brought me round. I’d thought about leaving at midnight but now I realised it was 2 o’clock. I’d lost myself in the music but now I was worrying about whether I could bring my mates to Solution sessions in the future. I’d been dancing, but now I was over-analysing the politics of reggae music and JA culture. And then I realised I was tired.
I was more annoyed by all this at the time, than being morally outraged at the homophobia. I could hear women on the other side of the hall shouting something…
Back down to earth, I just thought “fuck it” and went home.
[edited to say – Solution replied in the best way possible here]