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» GUEST RUNDOWNS » PROMOTERS ASKING FOR MONTEGO BAY’S “HIP STRIP” TO BE DECLARED A PARTY ZONE!

PROMOTERS ASKING FOR MONTEGO BAY’S “HIP STRIP” TO BE DECLARED A PARTY ZONE!


The Coral Cliff Gaming Lounge, a popular dining and entertainment complex on Montego Bay's Hip Strip. - File
The Coral Cliff Gaming Lounge, a popular dining and entertainment complex on Montego Bay’s Hip Strip. – File

By Curtis Campbell—

In a public consultation at the Jamaica Conference Centre, Kingston, on Thursday, May 16, Minister of State in the Ministry of Tourism and Entertainment Damion Crawford, raised the possibility of zoning areas for entertainment purposes. Today, The Sunday Gleaner pays attention to Montego Bay as part of our series of stories to ascertain what persons who operate businesses in already popular entertainment hubs have to say about the matter of zoning.

 

Dream Chasers Entertainment is based in Montego Bay, St James. Promoter and spokesperson for the company, Dray Allure, said law officials apply the Noise Abatement Act more strictly to some events than others. He believes events may or may not be affected depending on their proximity to residential areas.

Allure hosts Dirty Desires at a venue which is an estimated 15-minute drive from the city. His experience has led him to believe that it is more difficult to host events outside the city than within it, because the outlying areas are highly residential.

The promoter also said that he hosted an event at Zinc Shack, located on the Montego Bay Hip Strip. However, this experience was different from hosting Dirty Desires outside of the Hip Strip area on Gloucester Avenue, because nobody was being disturbed.

Zinc Shack

“At Zinc Shack on the Hip Strip I’ve never been affected by the Noise Abatement Act. This is due to the fact that the location has a club licence and the sound of the music wasn’t a problem. I’ve had problems at different locations and had to relocate the event. In a residential area people were complaining that the music was too loud, even when the patrons could hardly hear what was being played. And once the volume goes down people vibes cut, which equates to them leaving and we the promoters are unable to make honest bread,” Allure said.

The promoter pointed out that the Montego Bay Hip Strip has already developed a reputation as the party central of St James. In addition to Zinc Shack there are a number of popular party spots, including Margaritaville and Coral Cliff. Therefore, he sees no harm in officially declaring the area as a 24-hour entertainment sector, which would be a D Zone under Crawford’s suggested classification.

“I don’t think it would be a problem to have it operate as such. It’s done every year for Sumfest, so it can be done for others,” he said.

Lamar Dell, director of marketing and communications at Profound Entertainment, which operates in Montego Bay and Kingston, says hosting events in the second city can be difficult, due to the Noise Abatement Act. However, promoters have tried strategies to get patrons out early in an attempt to meet the party cut-off deadlines. This includes giving female patrons free admission, provided they turn out early. However, this affects the promoters financially and will eventually have an impact on other patrons.

Margaritaville

Margaritaville

“Though this is great for the females, the promoter feels the brunt of it. If you have an event that has a turnout of 2,000 patrons and 500 of these are females who have capitalised on the ‘freeness’, that’s a whole lot of money lost. Additionally, with the cost of executing an event rising daily and with the slippage of the Jamaican dollar to the US dollar, we might be forced to increase the cost to enter these events. So, at the end of the day, the average partygoers will feel the effects,” Dell said.Dell admits that the Noise Abatement Act is needed to facilitate some structure within the entertainment industry. However, he shares the popular promoter and patron view that the stipulated cut-off times (midnight and 2 a.m. on weekdays and weekends, respectively) are extreme.

“If the Act stipulated that events could go for a longer time, however, by a specific time the volume must be lowered and kept at that level until the stipulated lock-off time, I would be in full agreement with the Act,” he said.

Dell said Montego Bay already has identifiable areas such as the Hip Strip, which should be officially regarded as a D Zone because of its distance from residential communities. This, he said, is a no-brainer.

MontegoBaysHipStrip

“Most of the entertainment venues are located metres outside of the town area. The Hip Strip alone has over five major venues where events are held. These are all in walking distance of each other. Montego Bay’s Hip Strip is world renowned and many tourists visit Montego Bay just to say ‘I was on the Hip Strip’. So I think that the local authorities, whilst looking into entertainment zones for Montego Bay, should make the Hip Strip a 24-hour entertainment zone,” he said.

Dell added that this would attract more business persons, and by extension, benefit the tourism industry. “Other venues that could be covered under the 24-hour entertainment zone are Pier 1 and Dump-Up Beach. Such a zone would see the transformation of various spaces in these areas into venues for events. The promoters of western Jamaica are looking forward to benefit from all these moves in time to come,” Dell said.

 

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