Monday, November 30, 2009

Takeover DJs Thanksgiving Fail

The Thanksgiving Holiday is a big occasion in the Kenyan diaspora in the States. Kenyans usually gather in Atlanta for the 4 days for various events usually clubbing events but of course other groups do choose to tour the city on their own. Over different years the events have been run by one or more groups ranging from Kenyaniyetu, 2kat and other now defunct groups whose names I can't recall.

Anyway this year's events were being run by the TakeoverDJs, they have been in the business for a few years now and don't limit themselves to any one state. So this year due to the recession and prior commitments, I wasn't able to attend all the events but after watching the trailer for Wamba, the screening was a must to attend.

That Saturday evening of the screening, I was on my utmost Western time. I got free parking in front of the venue and strolled into the lobby. I had paid for my ticket online so all I had to do was pick it up (and save on box office fees). The crowd that showed up was moderate in size and pretty well dressed since the venue was at a Museum. They had a photographer who was taking pictures on the "red carpet" while people milled around and mingled. At that point I then thought the movie would then start at 7 pm. Come 7pm the theater doors had not been opened and the main organizer DJ Fully Focus and the rest of his crew were pacing in and out of the theater looking a bit harried. At this point in time people were getting slightly restless but were still in good spirits even though the lobby was not meant to accommodate so many people so quite a few people had to stand, 7.30 pm arrived and the Director introduced himself and said that there were "technical problems" and they were working to rectify them. At that point quite a few people went to the box office and got their refunds and left. Those who were left waited and then at around 8.30 pm the Director and DJ Fully Focus announced that due to some snafu or other they couldn't show the movie and that people could get their refunds from the box office and those who paid online would be refunded in 24 hours time, the Director did say though that he had a director's cut of the movie that he would show.

I did stay and watch the director's cut which was not the whole movie but around 1 hour's worth. The movie is most definitely worth watching and I shall be sure to try and get hold of the finished product. But in terms of organization, Takeover DJs get a big FAIL in that area. Call me harsh but this was not an event that was done on the fly but that had been planned for months, to add insult to injury people had to wait almost 2 hours (what would have been the screening time) to be told about "technical problems". The whole issue just resulted in alot of time being wasted and loss of face for the organizers; the only silver lining is that refunds are to be issued (failing which I can dispute the charges with my credit card company).

With that being swept aside, I need to comment on Kenyan events in Atlanta. Slowly over time, the number of groups holding events has dwindled. Part of it is of course due to the recession but another reason is that Kenyans are choosing instead to go to regular clubs, bars or just hold house parties. From my observations and discussions with a few Kenyans is that part of the reason is that too many of these groups became money hungry. Case in point cover charge, when you go to any regular club out here entrance is usually free upto 11pm or midnight depending on the club but when it comes to Kenyan bashes hosted by these groups you will pay cover charge irregardless of how early you come in (I do recall one bash by 2kat sometime back where it was free before 11pm but that was the exception rather than the rule). The same also applies to how late it gets, quite a few clubs stop manning the door at around 2 am or later; this doesn't apply for the Kenyan bashes. I do know that renting a venue is expensive but what some promoters do instead of depending on the cover charge to make money is that they split the cover charge with the venue owners and instead cut a deal where they make money from the drinks sold, given the amount of liquor Kenyans drink; that is a better route. There are ways to make money in the entertainment business while at the same time charging revelers less, other groups are doing it and I think the Kenyan targeting ones should do the same or at the end of the day people will vote with their feet.

Anyway at this point in time I am waiting for the usual barbs about how I am not supporting Kenyans, or how if I can do better I should do so myself among the usual comebacks you get for criticizing your own people. As long as the issue at hand involves my hard earned money, be sure that I am going to speak. Have a nice week people!


Anonymous said...

I gave up on kenyan events many years ago after attending one news years party where i paid $70 to what was supposed to be a dinner and kenyan concert , there was no dinner and the kenyans performed after 1.00am to make matters worse the organizers were nowhere to be seen

Amethyst said...

Begin Rant.

Problem Statement: I think that as Kenyans we are so content with mediocrity and/or substandard product that we don't give promoters/organizers any incentive to up the bar.

Background: Over my years in the States, I have frequented MANY Kenyan events (ATL Thanksgiving, DC Labor Day, Dallas Memorial, LA/SD Sevens and all others in between). For many of these events, the theme is largely the same... dingy halls with little to no air conditioning, late performances, high cover charges... and the reactions from patrons is always the same - complaints and grumbling but then we show up at the next event ready to shell out another $20 - $30 at the door and HUNDREDS at the bar. Kenyans seem to like being mistreated and then being charged top dollar for it. Attempts by some event organizers to deliver a nice, upper-scale event (with performances that start and end on time) have often been met with descriptions like “snobby” and have experienced low turn-outs (Ex. ATL thanksgiving 2KAT 2008, KenyanVibe SD Sevens 2009). We are a very loyal, highly profitable customer with few demands so, why would event organizers want to improve the service?

All this being said, I am not in any way saying that ALL Kenyan events are a #fail which is why I keep finding myself returning to them. I go because I love the music (we have some seriously talented DJs and musicians). I go because I get to meet my fellow countrymen and share in our common backgrounds. I go because Kenyans are HOT and the eye candy (dudes and chilez) is in plenty. So I am as much a culprit as the next guy.

Solution: Vote with your wallet.
I am working on changing my habits in regards to Kenyan events! I go out because I am looking for a great social experience… that means good music, quality drinks and damnit if you say there is a performance at 9… I want the performance at 9! I refuse to settle for less and much less PAY for less.

End Rant.

Acolyte said...

@ Anon
I have to cosign your comment other than very small Kenyan bashes I have stopped goin due to the high entrance fees and piss poor organisation. On xgiving I went to a bash where the Longombas were to perform, they came out stage at 3 am?! I didnt even see it as I had to go home as I was working the next day.
@ Amethyst
Thank you so much for saying what I have been thinking for the longest time! 2Kat used to have well planned events but I think wasee wa mtaa felt that wasn't their scene hence it dying out.
I for one have voted with my wallet, why should I pay $30 for a late half hearted performance in a dingy hall when I can pay the same or even $20 and see an indie or upcoming musician perform? I recall seeing Angelique Kidjo perform for only $25! Much as I love my Kenyan brethren there is only so much I can do in the name of SUPPOT as they call it, wacha they see me on a quaterly basis.
Thanks for the rant!