To survive in stage show niche, youths must avoid troupes mode

08Jul 2020
Michael Eneza
Dar es Salaam
The Guardian
To survive in stage show niche, youths must avoid troupes mode

WITH educational certificates being replaced with skills as the way to enter the job market, or other paying attachments of one kind or another, an interesting area to see how youths can make it in their endeavours is music.

Waluguru Original Music Band's artistes in action during the troupe's recent show which took place in Morogoro. PHOTO: SABATO KASIKA

In that specific joint, the dancing troupe occupied the main hall, which usually has ‘patrons’ avoiding the scattered mosquito bites on the outside perimeter as the bar lounge is fairly airy and not quite distinctive from sitting outside. The control post for the troupe, where the playing numbers and sound balancing equipment was placed had to take one of the guest corners or rather those to it, which was fair enough, but occupying most of the limited longue space may have inconvenienced a few customers. They were also inconvenienced in having to jostle for space with gambling machine players, maids picking orders, etc.

It was clear that the troupe size wasn’t appropriate for that joint, and even half of them would still have been a few too many, and in addition, just too many of them were boys and a scatter of girls. There is no doubt that if one is thinking of those who frequent bars, the girls doing their thing could be somewhat exciting from a skills angle and even admiration, while the converse is unlikely, as even the skill goes more or less unnoticed with male patrons. Women patrons appreciate boys’ skills more but are fewer.

Listening to what the bar manager had to say about the ‘invasion’ of the place by a dancing troupe, he remarked that a nearby joint, one with far more space to spare for the skills and movements of the youths was making a ‘killing’ in selling beer owing to their presence. It wasn’t clear if the trick could work for the manager explaining how his colleagues were succeeding, as there are other factors, for instance the other bar is positioned on a busy road and busier area for instance in relation to food vendors, etc. What was rather evident was that the space this bar had to offer was limited, and earnings would be low as well.

That observation leads to one rule, that any bar can have youths performing music to attract –patrons and many remain loyal to their new outing spots, but one bar can’t just imitate what another bar is doing. In that sense, each bar has to look around what sort of space it has and ability to attract patrons even with a dance group around, in which case it figures out how many such performers it can accommodate, but for the space and likely earnings. In the weekend case at issue none of these aspects were optimal in the least.

What is incumbent on bars is also an operational rule for such artistes or those who sponsor them, seeing them through their first paces as performers and then seeking out niches of that sort for them to start picking coins in a regular manner. It enables them release their playful energies in a way that boosts their egos, self-esteem if the old psychology term is often maligned, and definitely helps to keep them out of crime or misdemeanor if they can earn a coin or two, an appreciation from neighbors, and at times obtain beneficial acquaintances via those motions. But then the design, how the coat is cut, must be appropriate.

There was something a bit traditional in the way in which that group was organized, having anywhere up to 20 people that could be seen dancing, and other handlers besides in which case the space around the longue and the gambling spot, and even the immediate outside space used by patrons was all filled by the special guests. Predictably they could buy few drinks on their own, and some collective large ‘konyagi’ drink (or two) had been placed for their use, but the going was a little hardy, and drawing empathy for anyone who cared. There was an element of wishing that those patronizing the place reach out to them, but scarcely did such moment arrive, even if one wasn’t there for more than one hour or slightly beyond.

If music performance is to take shape and be accommodated in bars, efforts must be made to cut out the numbers so that one has casual performance, say a couple of girls and a musical apparatus companion as that is a different sort of skill. If they need one other dancer or even two more that would be up to them to get organized, as similar to any petty trade, the personality part is important as the contracts, earnings are skimpy. Critics or activists can’t say there is discrimination against boys since as they say, life is like that.