I’m a Miami native. That could mean a lot of things depending on who you’re speaking with. So, let me clarify by disclosing my neighborhood, and associations. I AM AN ORIGINAL WYNWOOD GIRL. I grew up on 34th Street and 2nd Ave, in the hood-which is now a thriving art district.
I came up during the rockin’ 80’s and roaring 90’s, when Pac Jam was the ultimate Teen Club.
All the young adults and teens frequented the Pac Jam-if their parents were “cool” enough to let them go…or neglectful enough to not notice or care…either way, it was the place to be on a Friday night!
Upcoming and current rappers of our emerging, Miami “hip-hop” era were usually the acts which would “rock” the crowd, introduce new dance numbers, break new records, etc.
Boys and girls would hook up there; teens would show up with their friends to meet up with their prospective or current boyfriends, and/or crushes. It was the ultimate dating scene.
The place was always packed! Hence the name, PAC JAM. It was a jammed packed, musty-smelling, dimmed lighting, sticky flooring, loud-bass-booming, crowd-pushing, no-space to throw your elbows, hardly, or step-back too quickly, place to jam! The DJ was sure to jam! And boy, if you were there, you were “jamming!”
Nothing mattered. The energy, the sounds, the smell of the place was all wistful because you were just happy to be there. For that moment, you were grown, you were free. The boys wore their hairs in high-top fades, or designed Cesar cuts. They’d save their Adidas track suits or bright colors of Karl Kani fashions, or Cross Colors outfits just to wear it at the Pac Jam. They’d rock their Jordan, Adidas, or Nike sneakers or Jodeci boots. Girls loved their hair weaved-ponytail extensions or their freshly new cuts of a frontal hair-curled-stacking which was freeze dried with spritz, with the bottom back, shaved. With this cut, you’d need to wear your bamboo shaped, golden hoop or square earrings-at least two pairs, nonetheless. Even if she had to change clothes in the car, she would rock a midriffs, and high waist-ed, tight jeans or a tight tube mini skirt. You had to represent. You had to look good. You had to smell good.
Your stroll into the club was none too simple. You’d be bouncing in the line, as the sound of the music from inside permeated your chests, entering your heart cavity to instruct that organ of its new rhythm. The heavy-bass-beat permeated your entire being. You and your friends were giddy and bouncing one knee before you could even enter. Once you’re at the door, that familiar but welcoming stench of teenage boys sweating and dancing would hit you, and you’d continue, in step into the club…to find other friends, or secure your spot, where you’ll park, for the night.
And you’re vibin’…the music is hitting number after number, and you are taken by the shear elevation of how it is compelling you to gyrate your hips, and all you wanna do is level your booty-bouncing skills of the “Doo-doo Brown” dance. The feeling of a young man’s strong arm around your waist to assist you in your dance was all the more pleasurable. Hopefully, he spoke first. And if he didn’t, a quick check by looking back is all it took to decide whether he was cute enough to stay. If he was not cute, you’d move quickly to signify the rejection. If all was good, the dance would be the introduction. The second dance, the conversation. The slow dance, the decision to “go together”; and by the end of Pac Jam that night, you’d have a new boyfriend.
On July 12th, 2014 it was important to recapture those moments of teenage rebellion and freedom. The Mac Center, better known as the Double Tree Hotel in Miami’s Airport district became the venue to recreate that era. The communities of Liberty City and Overtown came together in this most unassuming place, to recapture a piece of history. The place easily held 800-1000 people. It was like a conference, held at night. For in this large and spacious, first-floor conference room of the Double Tree, which is known for supporting the Antiques Road Show when it’s in town, saw masses of Pac Jam folks, loyal to date, and hoping to preserve that positively euphoric moment of childhood nostalgia. It was indeed a momentous occasion.
Patrons were eager to hear Society perform his 1994-hit, “Yes Indeed!” Backed by Mecca aka Grimo (a Rapper/Poet/Actor in his own right) and JT Money’s plethora of local favorites like “Playa Ass Shit” and “Hoe Problems”. Mystikal was thrown into the bill as a seller, even though Miami faithfuls were really there for the former two. And as expected, the show’s opening was electric! Society teased the mass with the 20-year old-hit, which remains relevant, and impacting to this day! The crowd jumped, sang/rapped along, and for that moment, we were all 20-years younger-recalling the first time we heard it. And at that very moment, silently understanding that Society was indeed legendary.
And just when you felt it was okay to go home, JT Money delivered a most endearing passage through his songs, which educed the crowd into that moment where you were trying to decide whether you were a “hoe” or if you’re a man, had one for a girlfriend. We all sang/rapped along anyway. For regardless of the lyrics, I knew I wasn’t a “hoe”. :-)
Most would credit Uncle Luke for Pac Jam’s success. However, it was the people. The teens who continued to role through week after week like a cult following. Now that everyone from that era are grown, probably married, divorced, dead, in jail, educated, have moved away, or are still living over there on 15th AVE of Liberty City or 3rd AVE of Overtown, it was important to come together, more like a family reunion, through the vehicle which bound us all together in the first place-the music.
That pioneering Miami music which is like no where else was a re-visitation of all things familiar. Stemming from Uncle Luke, was Uncle Al, Poison Clan, with JT Money; and then we had New York based artist greats who helped pioneer the fusion of sounds, like Society, Mecca and Buddha. There are plenty others-Zoe Pound, Trina, Trick Daddy, and many others. And from them, came many more others. But hearing those original ones brought it back. It brought the people together in droves. It brought back the smells, vibe, the energy we all remembered.
It was THE PAC JAM!