Afrika Bambaataa: The show that was(n’t)

By bogotapost April 22, 2015
Afrika Bambaata Bogota

Photo: Vice Colombia

VICE Magazine and Teatro Metropol last week held a unique cultural event – Afrika Bambaataa, arguably the godfather of hip hop, came to Bogota. I use the word ‘held’, but that’s a little misleading. I’d use ‘organised’ instead, but that would also be morally ambiguous of me, even for a Bogotá Post writer.

I’d tried to buy tickets in the morning, only to discover (after three hours of getting information from people so helpful that they gave this information to me despite not actually having the information to give) that there simply were no tickets. Just a cover on the door. Fine.

Come 10:30 and the crowd of 300-odd people is still out on the street. Unusual. I approach a group of five, typically bored-looking, police officers who quite candidly tell me that the show’s been cancelled due to paperwork. Seriously, paperwork. One of them asks us “Are you here to see the fat black guy? Yeah, that guy came and went home, mate” (heavily paraphrased – he wasn’t Australian).

So we decided to head off to continue getting pissed.

I’m assuming we dodged a riot, but I honestly don’t know. Think of me more as a concerned member of the public than an informed journalist. Let’s face it though, if 100-odd people can get rowdy waiting 20 minutes for a bus at Calle 100 Transmi, I wouldn’t want to tell three times that number that the three hours of standing around, holding appendages they’d just done, had been all for nothing.

[Editor’s Note: As it turns out, the show wasn’t cancelled…

VICE confirms that “the police stopped the doors from opening for almost two hours after the programmed start time.” But it did happen – around 2,000 people held out for what was, by all accounts, a show to remember (sorry Tristan).

Afrika Bambaataa took to the stage just past midnight, with a set divided into two clear sections. The first took the crowd back to the initial wave of 80’s hip hop, with a mix of disco, soul, R&B and pop, before it transformed into a more global sound, with elements of funky carioca, trap and even reggaeton.

The set was interspersed with messages that the crew urged the audience to chant – calls to unity and anti-violence messages.
According to VICE: “We didn’t just welcome the king, but we showed that, after almost 70 years, a few blocks from where Colombia’s war broke out [Gaitán’s assassination], we can be a united tribe.”]

By Tristan Quigley