Sunday, March 29, 2009

acel, aryo, adek, angwen (1, 2, 3, 4!)

Havana Pub celebrated the fourth anniversary of its opening in Gulu on Saturday night. I'm not one for the bar scene in Gulu, but I've definitely had my fair share of Havana experiences. Early in 2007 it was bending bottle caps during happy hour, drinking Bell and falling for a much, much younger guy. Later that year it was hearing gunshots from the balcony of Kakanyero and learning that a UPDF soldier had shot himself in the head just inside the bar.

Now, in 2009, with Club beer apparently buying every piece of advertising space they could get their hands on, Havana celebrated its anniversary by closing off the street for a night of musical debauchery. Between two rigged walls of blue plastic tarpaulin, the Hotel Pearl Afrique Band filled the air with jazzy Antibalas-like tunes. The lead singer announced that they were "going traditional," switching into the familiar beats from all those bus rides from K'la to Acholiland - with live dancing. In black t-shirts, jeans and NY Yankees caps, the guys came out and performed what can only be described as a crotch-thrust, where the upper body stays totally still and the lower body, well....hips thrust, knees wobble. I was smiling and laughing so hard my face hurt.

The MC and DJ gave lots of shout outs to northern Uganda, and as I looked around at the growing mass of smartly-dressed young Ugandans at the show, I couldn't help but think of how much this place has changed since I first came in 2006. I went back to Jojo's after the hotel band wrapped up, but when I left for K'la the next morning at 6 am, the music was still going strong.

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