The night of many firsts

The night of many firsts. You know when you say that “this was my first time to…”? Well, this was a night of many firsts for me. To have a “first” experience can be powerful and imprint memories which will impact your life and decision making for years to come. But it can also be disappointing and so hyped that you’ll get to ask yourself afterwards “why was this a thing at all from the start?”. Personally, my best’s firsts have been the ones I’ve experienced unexpectedly. When I go into a situation without knowing what to expect and then being overwhelmed by what experience I’m thrown into. This was such a night.

I knew that Fazil would make his first contemporary night a success and I was confident that whatever he would put together would be great. However, this was my first time to experience an event in Uganda where the venue is so packed we had to lock the gates to stop people from pushing themselves inside. The building could not fit another soul. I was shocked when the venue owners called to tell me that I had to come down to sort out the situation. Space just wasn’t enough!

The excitement in the crowd. The vibrations in the air. The nervous and at the same time calm breaths of the performers. It was my first night to have experience within the Ugandan contemporary scene which actually made me feel something. Something I’ve only felt watching pieces produced in the USA and Europe before. I have no doubt what so ever that the Ugandan contemporary art scene will see a hopeful change and a breeze of fresh air within the next couple of years. We all got a taste of that, we who was lucky enough to find a spot on that rooftop the last Friday night of May 2019.

Fazil, you and I have had a lot going on the last years and while we have discussed art a lot, this was my first time to see a piece choreographed by a Ugandan which really moved me. It was telling me a story. A story that was mine, yours and the story of all of our people. Thank you for that. I believe you have only started but still, I would choose to see your work every time. I know I couldn’t have done a better decision than leaving the organising responsibility of DREA’s future Contemporary Nights to you. You inspire and surprise me. You make me think. And isn’t that the point of all art?

Starting out the night with a poet, who makes dance with words is a genius move. Joel, I’m proud of what I saw. You have come so far since I first got to know you. I guess we both have. I’ve seen you grow both as an artist and as a person. I believe I will have many years to admire your work in the future.

A contemporary night such as these ones are not much without the crew who work behind the scene and without their hard efforts, the night would be so different. Sometimes it even threatens the very existences of the evenings. This time I’d like to direct a special thank you to Timothy and Ismail who made their best to make all the lights work in time. Even with pouring rain and the time as well as the technique against you, you made all the 18 lights ready in time for the evening to start! Timothy, you must have a talent for light setting and managing because it is not everyday someone can teach himself how to steer 18 lights with one control in just 48 hours. I will bow and take off my hat for you if I had one.

I hope everyone who was there had an experience which you will carry with you for a time and maybe for some of you, you also got to have some firsts. This was the start of the season for DREA, but there will be more to come as always and I hope to see you there next time!

Please leave the comments about your experience of the event below. In DREA we are all about sharing!

Best wishes,
Robert Ssempijja (Founder of DREA)

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