[private]The ad slogan for Virginia Slims used to be “You’ve come a long way, baby!” That would be almost an understatement when it comes to Utila.
When I arrived here in 1970, Utila was a close-knit religious and segregated community. There was no shortage of churches and religions in abundance.
There was the famous/infamous “no-shirt law,” which could get you a night in jail and Lps. 15 fine, five times the fine for fighting, for “indecent exposure.” That was back when a lempira was worth 50 US cents.
“No shirt no service” signs were posted in front of shops. A local female in a bathing suit was considered scandalous. Even ladies with questionable reputations would enter the ocean fully dressed.
It was like the Victorian Era. Even profanity, which is now the norm, could cost you a Lps. 3 fine. Bars were few.
Now 43 years later girls in string bikinis and bare-chested guys parading down the streets are the norm! One can sometimes see gorgeous tall Nordic women with long blond hair sunning themselves topless on our public beach while overdressed, overweight church ladies are having a bake sale a few yards away.
On August 3, Utila hosted the 17th edition of the SunJam music festival, brain child of Luis Maier and Alfredo Olin, both Utila dive instructors when they organized the first edition back in 1996. A rocking techno crowd from around the world began rolling in a few days before the August 3 concert on Water Cay. They came from El Salvador, Guatemala and many other places.
The party started at La Champa, where Jonathan and his six-foot speakers and the girls behind the bar primed our swinging crowds, who were dancing on the beach as well as in the Champa.
World famous DJs like Dustin Zahn, Loud Neighbor Xpansul, Balto, Carlos Padilla-Gilk-John, Aluc-Villeda, Luis Maier, Nahom Ortiz, Nina Garay, Ramon Pidela and the Switchers assured plenty of musical entertainment for the 1,000 something participants. Video mapping was done by Lamepantallas.
There were program warm-ups all week and an after party at the Beach Bar showcasing, Modular-Re-Tune, True Type Tracks and Cube Culture. There were also four promotions.
At least 13 sponsors made the great party a full success. Even though the tickets went up to $60 from $50 last year, the turnout was great, and our party crowd was obviously happy.
I jokingly asked a church lady whether she got her ticket. She said, “Oh, no. The SunJam is of the devil!”
Well, different strokes for different folks. I know the ferry people cleaned up. The lines were enormous.
That was the end of our jamming year. Things will go back to normal again until next year.