Club Heavens “The Rebirth”

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes she emerged on the night of February 11, 2012 LGBT history was made under new management, with new interior designs, new and some old staff members returning and certainly a new lease on life after closure for some time now due to a rapid decline in interest as other spots within Kingston and neighbouring parishes took center stage, other mitigating circumstances and a much younger and discriminating audience who also have an aptitude for mainstream entertainment offerings that also seem to appeal to LGBT senses but it was good if not refreshing to see the old haunt revived and kicking once again.

The north western Jamaica spot is up and running again and it’s hoped that it will remain open with steady loyal patronage for years to come.

The name supposedly came about as at that time the issues with stop murder music, the repetitive homophobic incidents and the missing entertainment spots around the conceptualizers wanted to find and run an outlet for release so the term Heaven(s) was used to bring a kind of relief and happiness as was thought implied in the term as it related to a religious perspective to the spot.

(due to the limited photo policy I cannot show you more than the basics)

The simple yet effective decor was a fierce start upon entering, new acoustics, lighting, security arrangements, fogging, VIP section and the free admission for opening night were part of the clever marketing ploy to re-introduce persons to the spot and open up another offerings to first timers, in fact it is to open on Sunday night as well with a $500 admission. Club Heavens which officially is now the longest running LGBT entertainment spot/club in local terms if one is counting we could assume some 7 years or more between the closings and reopenings.

It’s original conceptualizer the late Kirk Lester who was murdered in 2007 whose funeral made international news after the stoning incident that took place marring the final rights in Mandeville opened the spot in early 2000 and at that time there were few permanent spots for fun and socializing with peers. Individual party promoters were offering their own brand of private shingdigs while the defunct Entourage Nightclub was no more as we recall after its closure due to pressure from the surrounding business district and a series of sensationalized articles in the tabloids of the day on supposed happenings there then the awful murder of its proprietor and co founder of  a noted LGBT entity Brian Williamson in June 2004 a small attempt was made to revive the brand but was reprised for safety reasons and for memory of him.

At or around the original opening of Club Heavens as well we had lost two major disc jockeys on the circuit due to that infamous party DVD that made its way to the mainstream and was sold on the streets with the outcome being the jocks identified by their voices as they worked in the mainstream as well, then came the backlash which compromised their safety also resulting in a lull in offerings for some time out of fear of exposure hence the no cameras policies or limited photo/video capture that are instituted with some events to this day. So the market responded by attending this new spot in droves weekly which also catered to a wide cross section of the LGBTQIQ2S communities as well thought out themes were offered and well received at the time.

Club Heavens also had come to represent the tradition of drag entertainment and has hosted some noted internationally recognised divas including Harmonica Sunbeam and the legendary Michelle Ross and also our version of the Miss World pageant and Oscar typed award shows recognizing persons in LGBT entertainment locally. This was not lost at the Rebirth and old and new divas strutted their stuff on the stage with appropriate short sets this time around, Diva Nastacia Waugh legendary performances was welcomed as she lip synced to Whitney Houston’s “I Look To You” in the tribute segment and the fab one BeBe from western Jamaica proved that 6 inch pumps are a breeze for a tall lady. It was Nage Trendsett that dominated the performances however proving yet again the calibre of shows she has been serving since last year, she delivered a three song set including two tracks from Beyonce where she lip synced flawlessly with only a chair in the centre of the stage as a prop. Her ability to have her audience transfixed during multiple songs was proven yet again, no one moved and no one gawked and there was no heckling as often follow some other queens, her use of space to enhance her performance had not gone unnoticed and her eye contact with her loyal subjects was commendable, all the above are traits some performers need to tighten up on and hold patrons’ attention. Four major DJs served the beatz including yours truly and Dr B from western Jamaica was a toast for the kidz and of course DJ David with hot Peppa.

A packed house rocked as persons from just by the look of it all walks of life were present and the mingling was good to see, also what was evident were the rural faces some of whom have not been seen in ages proving that the club has the pull to cover the tiles. Influentials could be seen darting about and other party promoters were present too to show their support, I know the late Kirk Lester would have liked that real unity as some persons from that era reminisced on his impact on the club’s development. Persons recalled his own antics darting about the floor seeing to the smooth running of the activities especially the bar sales and his own brand of drag often taking the stage himself with that infamous Tina Turner wig and gesticulating to his favourite Diana Ross song “The Best Years of my Life”

Also not to be outdone in as far as reminiscing goes was Mr. Gareth Henry who took over management after Kirk’s departure from us and carried it until he moved to that infamous villa on the north coast where the old party DVD was shot of a previous private LGBT event, scenes of which are still on Youtube and the subsequent threats on his life from a public incident he was involved in at a pharmacy that caused him to seek asylum elsewhere among other things. I will not mention too much of the ugly history of the club during the tumultuous period of its immediate past manager but it is water under the bridge as she too was in attendance to shake a leg.

The brand also changed hands with the likes of former Crisis Interventions Officer from the J, Miss Artis who now resides elsewhere, the property’s owner at one point, a former promoter from western Jamaica and of course legendary Macey Antibellum Grey before its rebirth in 2012.

The shenanigans of the hypermasculine brothers (thugs/heaviots) are not to be left out of this summary as they too made their presence felt at the spot which has usually attracted them in better numbers than elsewhere. International vogue queens were also present a few of which made the trip to Jamaica just for the reopening/reunion as described by the masters of ceremonies during the drag show presentation.

here is more in audio:

Club Heavens The Rebirth 12.02.12

There were just two dark spots in the scheme of things, the alcohol inventory had ran out and there was a small skirmish after the proceedings ended on the outside with minor injuries but overall the rebirth was flawless. I guess some things won’t change so easily eh?

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It has indeed fulfilled its mandate in a sense and so appropriately named as the spot for some time also doubled as a spot for church services for the Sunshine Cathedral Jamaica services in some instances, offering an LGBT version of heaven on earth through Jesus Christ, literally after a busy club night sections are cordoned off, janitorial staff go into action, chairs are erected a podium placed and covered with the banner and other paraphernalia, a large Bible is laid, a chalice brought out, tambourines, wine and communion wafers are placed when needed, candle sticks and the collection plate. As one lead pastor from the mother church in Florida puts it “it was church from a box.” From LGBT entertainment including raunchy teasing strip shows to spirit filled services attracting two different audiences, talk about functionality.

Let us hope they grow from strength to strength and continue this long held tradition of offering a wide array of entertainment for us.

Peace and tolerance

H

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Remembering Brian Williamson (September 4 1945 – June 9, 2004)

a special post outside of the October History month but relevant non the less
the good days with his dog Tessa at home

 

Brian Williamson (September 4 1945 – June 9, 2004) was a Jamaican Gay rights activist and co-founder of the Jamaican Forum for Lesbians and Gays, J-Flag. He was known for personally housing and looking after gay people in Jamaica. A pleasant smile was what one would get upon entering his complex up until his death and he sought to it that homeless persons were assisted in what ever way he could, which may explain my push in this regard as my early exposure to that side of on the ground advocacy and his own struggle to convince others to include that part of crisis interventions into the mix.
He was murdered with a machete, suffering multiple stab wounds to neck and face.Williamson’s confessed murderer, Dwight Hayden, was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole after fifteen years.
Other posts and articles on Brian:
Gleaner on Remembering Brian Williamson June 20, 2004
More related posts that named Brian: HERE
More from Gay Jamaica Watch: HERE
More from GLOBALGAYZ: HERE
Sadly missed

One of the founding members of JFLAG, Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals & Gays (worth repeating)

Owner of one of the most successful gay entertainment spots in Jamaica, The Entourage and a dedicated activist. One of the memorable moments in our GLBTQ history is an appearance on Jamaican television then known as (JBC) Jamaica Broadcasting Corporation coming out to the nation and by extension the world and putting a face to the gay community.
The VHS tapes should be available at JFLAG’s archives in Kingston, we hope they have been stored properly and not left to go the route of the Gay Freedom Movement (GFM) archives that subsequently what was left of those were retrieved by it’s founder Larry Chang and archived overseas were not in good condition due to poor handling and storage, sad as Jamaica should have been the repository for such important materials. We must preserve our past a people who do not know or respect their past cannot plan for the future.
A pity as he must be turning in his grave now to see how we are at odds over what is to be done for the movement in totality of the LGBTQI communities instead we are left with a joke of an advocacy with criticisms of dissenting voices described as “bickering” as if the establishment are infallible when the engagement of everyone for or against should be the thrust forward in dealing with not just the repulsion of the buggery law while affixing HIV/AIDS issues which seems to be the main focus while the urgently required social interventions for certain sections of the community to uplift and rebuild their lives. Sadly it seems more about selfaggrandizement coupled with an elitist agenda with a general intolerance for views outside the system. The ordinary LGBTQI body politic seems relegated to just followers with selected individuals given a platform. The loss of a former volunteer and contracted individual earlier this year via a gruesome murder with not so much as some formal recognition for however small his contribution was glaring to say the least.
All this was not the original plan when The Jamaica Forum for Lesbians Allsexuals and Gays was first formed and launched albeit that from the get go if I am to go from memory the signs of the aforementioned opposition to certain types of intervention ideas were knocking at the door but were not as pronounced as today.
Let us however move towards working together for the greater good of those down trodden and or displaced with a sense of hopelessness, rest assured the criticisms will not and cannot be stopped as it is by picking the meat from same and having real forumatic activities that the solutions will come.
Love always
Peace

Steve Harvey Remembered (Repost & Updated)

Today is the fifth anniversary of the tragic passing of Steve Lenford Harvey aka “big nose” only few of us got away with calling him that. Here is an update of a post that has been carried on GLBTQJA Blogger edition and Gay Jamaica Watch for October LGBT History Month several years in succession.

Please let us reflect on this and other senseless killings of persons in Jamaica in particular despite sexual orientation as we need to stop this bloodletting.

Peace

Steve Lenford Harvey
Promoted to glory
30th November 2005

On the evening of November 30, 2005, at approximately 1:00am, Harvey and his roommates were robbed at gunpoint in their home, his roommates were bound, and Harvey was abducted. A gunman reportedly yelled “We hear that you are gay” to the trio. Harvey’s body was found two hours later, early the next morning, a few miles in the hills overlooking Kingston, with gunshot wounds in his head and back.
Steve Harvey’s killing has resulted in a far-reaching public outcry against the government of Jamaica, which has been accused of ignoring violence against homosexuals.
Several organizations, including the United Nations have demanded a thorough investigation of the homicide.
In March 2006, four people were charged with the killing.
It was in that same year he was selected as LACCASO‘s (Latin America and Caribbean Council of AIDS Service Organizations) project coordinator for Jamaica and was about to launch into bigger an better things.
A Life cut short.
His work with the MSM population was EXEMPLARY (yet to be duplicated)
The pic depicting a happier moment of him, “BIG NOSE” as some would tease him, he never liked it lol.
He lived for politics and current affairs, always debating with someone about his favourite political party and if he never agreed with you his face made it very clear lol.
We Miss You Boi!!!
(original photos from archives)
Here are newer photos from Jamaica AIDS Support for Life archives.
Peace and tolerance.
H
NB:

LGBT History Month: Remembering Howard Daly & his contributions

The first post in the LGBT History series for 2010, A Posthumous recognition commemorating the life of Howard Daly the Rastafarian gentleman originally from Guyana who passed away on September 4th 2010 from Complications due to Colon cancer. In the photo above with murdered HIV/AIDS activist Steve Harvey who passed on November 30, 2005

see more on him HERE: LGBT History Month – Steve L Harvey Remembered

The multi-talented Howard Daly

published: Sunday | September 7, 2003 (The Gleaner)

Michael Reckord, Contributor

IT WAS with amazement and delight that, 22 years ago, the multi-talented Guyanese teacher and performer Howard Daly heard about Jamaica’s Cultural Training Centre (the CTC, now the Edna Manley College for the Visual and Performing Arts).

Four diploma-granting, tertiary level schools of dance, drama, music and art on one compound? Wow!

Daly vowed he would go to Jamaica and take classes in all four disciplines. Ambitious and with the confidence of youth (he was in his early 20s), Daly felt he had the capacity to absorb the training. After all, he had been involved in dance, drama and music for years.

At that time, he said in a recent interview, a typical weekday involved teaching music at a secondary school from 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., conducting choir practice until 4:00 p.m., practising on the piano for 40 minutes, napping for exactly five, conducting classes with his dance group (The Swallows) from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m., taking dance classes at the National School of Dance until eight and then dashing over to the Theatre Guild of Guyana.

There, for an hour or so, he would teach Movement for Actors, then take regular drama classes until 11:00 p.m. He

would be in bed by midnight and recuperating for a repetition of the activities on the following day.

CHILDHOOD MEMORIES

Daly – a choreographer, dancer, pianist/organist, singer, actor and, most recently, personal coach – started performing early. One of his childhood memories, he says, is of himself singing and dancing to an audience on the base of a vat (water tank) in his yard in Georgetown, Guyana.

He was then three years old and had not seen any stage productions. He would not see one until he was seven when, on a visit to New York City and the Radio City Music Hall in the United States (U.S.) one summer, he saw Icecapades.

His performances continued, however, and in fact grew into concerts involving others children when he and his family moved to Timehri. This district, in the ‘bush’ of British Guiana (as it was then), was a British army base.

The concerts were held, Daly said, “under someone’s house”, an allusion to the fact that many houses in the country stand on columns high off the ground. In Timehri, Daly first saw, and started learning from, dance magazines given to his mother by a British soldier at the base.

By the time he was 10, he had started seeing plays at the Theatre Guild, opposite which his grandparents in Georgetown lived. At 10 he started going to school in the capital city and joined the school choir. Chosen to sing in the British Guiana Music Festival he was a favourite to win, but never took part because he was taken by his parents to New York again.

DISTINCTION IN GRADE 1 EXAMS

He started taking music lessons, got a distinction in Grade 1 exams within four months and continued getting distinctions until he reached Grade 5 and had to change teachers. His new teacher taught him to play the organ, with the result that Daly is now the organist at his church, the Temple of Light Church of Religious Science in Kingston.

He also joined the school choir, started acting in school plays and, at 13, began dance classes in Indian Classical Dance with a well-known dance instructor, Philip McClintock who, though Black, had an Indian dance troupe.

About the time he left school, Daly joined the National School of Dance and the Theatre Guild of Guyana. Major plays he acted in with the latter, included Derek Walcott’s Dream on Monkey Mountain, Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire and Arthur Miller’s Death of a Salesman.

His first job after leaving school was teaching music at North Georgetown Secondary School. There he developed a 70-piece school choir and led it into the annual Guyana Music Festival. Daly later took over the school’s dance group.

Dance, music and drama groups to which Daly had links gradually coalesced into a Theatre Guild group, and Daly became director of the Guild’s Dance Company. He held the post for three years, during which time he produced a number of shows.

With one of these he was able to start fulfilling his desire to see the world, performing with the company on Broadway in New York, in Los Angeles in the U.S. and Toronto and Ottawa in Canada. Travelling by bus, he says proudly, “We went through 25 states and three provinces.” He also made another tour of the USA with Chronicle, a Guyanese 42-piece steel orchestra.

In 1981 Daly enrolled at the Jamaica School of Dance. He left in 1985, without formally graduating and having only partially fulfilled his original dream. He did take drama and music electives at the relevant schools at the CTC, but had no classes at the School of Art.

REHEARSAL DIRECTOR

Since then he has joined the L’ACADCO dance company and been rehearsal director for the University Dance Society, working at the latter with Jackie Guy and Joseph Robinson. He has choreographed dances for both groups, as well as for two Father HoLung and Friends productions.

His performance tours continued. With L’ACADCO he went to Cuba five times, Mexico twice; Spain; Guantanamo Bay in Cuba (which he sees as an American base and not part of Cuba), London, England; Ghana; Holland; Japan and Lithuania. In the last named, he says, “We did 42 shows in two months.”

A co-founder of Jamaica AIDS Support (JAS), and a former director, he has used his dance and drama skills in classes and productions to educate viewers about HIV/AIDS. He has also used dance as therapy in his work at the University Hospital Detoxification Unit.

Daly, a deeply spiritual individual, now works mainly as a personal coach, helping his clients to maintain physical, mental and spiritual health. He is a regular solo performer, on the piano and as a singer, at his church.

Steve L Remembered

Born February 9, 1978, transitioned peacefully on November 6th 2008

By George Lee, a member of JFLAG NING LINKUP Group

I’m Still Here

Family and Friends please don’t mourn for me
I’m still here, though you don’t see.
I’m right by your side each night and day
And within your heart I long to stay.

My body is gone but I’m always near.
I’m everything you feel, see or hear.
My spirit is free, but I’ll never depart
As long as you keep me alive in your heart.

I’ll never wander out of your sight-
I’m the brightest star on a summer night.
I’ll never be beyond your reach-
I’m the warm moist sand when you’re at the beach.

I’m the first bright blossom you’ll see in the spring,
The first warm raindrop that April will bring.
I’m the first ray of light when the sun starts to shine,
And you’ll see that the face in the moon is mine.

When you start thinking there’s no one to love you,
You can talk to me through the Lord above you.
I’ll whisper my answer through the leaves on the trees,
And you’ll feel my presence in the soft summer breeze.

I’m the hot salty tears that flow when you weep
And the beautiful dreams that come while you sleep.
I’m the smile you see on a baby’s face.
Just look for me, friend, I’m every place!

-end-
(please do not repost or re-use without credit to the author)