- Before the advent of the social media a DJ was a celebrity, in fact, before the socialites, actors, models hit the scene DJs had long been celebrities who commanded a following of some sort.
Jerry Kott,61,is a DJ and has been active since 1975 when he was first enlisted at Mbowe Night Club (Club Bilicanas) despite being in his twilight he still has what it takes to bring the house down.
Club Bilicanas the place where he made his name is no longer a place to talk about after it was brought down several years ago after tenancy dispute with NHC that attracted headlines.
At his age, he still has a taste in almost everything that makes him an entertainer, a hairstyle that is reminiscent of the 70s Afro, a taste for fine clothes, and even bling.
“When I started way back in the 70s a DJ had to have great listening skills to suit that tag because everything was manual especially when it came to mixing and setting of the sound equipment,” says Jerry.
They had to make do with the Vinly and sometimes even the cassettes when times got harder.
In a career that spans over 40 years Jerry Kott has almost seen it all, the swanky nightlife of the city to death of his compatriots.
Before the advent of social media, a DJ was a celebrity; in fact, before the socialites, actors, models hit the scene DJs had long been celebrities who commanded a following of some sort.
Just like today when everyone cares about branding they were a brand that stood by itself on the stall, good enough to market a gig.
According to Jerry’s narrative, during those times they came first on the pecking order and women would throw themselves at DJs wherever they went.
“Life as every wise person will tell you it is all about boundaries, things you can do and what you can’t and that is what has kept some of us alive to date to tell our stories,” says Jerry.
He says he owes what he has and doesn’t have to music and the entertainment industry, family and even good health.
At his local base in Tegeta ‘Kwa Isaje’ he sets the ball rolling with a consummate session of the oldies and he too has learned the ways of today’s trade as he uses a laptop computer during his session.
“These machines have made it a bit easier, there are certain programmes on the computer that makes even a novice become a good DJ but the bottom line is that you have to entertain your audience,” he says.
His fans adore him and sometimes they implore him to go one past midnight when his ageing frame can hardly contain the fatigue.
“On an ordinary day I play until midnight and that is when I let the young ones take over but sometimes I am forced to stay on due to public demand,” says Jerry.
He admits that the party scene has changed tremendously in the past two decades and what was once a celebration of skill and knowledge has greatly become a battle of technology.
His tale is corroborated by some veteran DJs who plied their skills in Dar es Salaam’s nightclubs in the 80s and even the 90s, they too think today’s crop of DJs are not up to the task.
On a special night when Kott and fellow DJs were hosted at Escape One by Joseph Kusaga himself a former DJ now managing director of Clouds Media Group, they showed that they still have the skills that made them famous back then.
It was a night that brought together both the current and past crop of disc jockies who took time to exchange pleasantries and catch up on some lost time and perhaps even opportunities.
In this rather exclusive club were names such as Bony Love, DJ Ommy, DJ JD the Legend, DJ Boucha, DJ Venture, DJ Mackay, DJ Elly and several other who made audiences scream in frenzy.
Some are still active on the wheels of steel whereas others like Joseph Kusaga have since channeled their energies elsewhere.
DJ Ommy who was once a name at Las Vegas Night Club and Radio one hasn’t touched the turntable for three years but he isn’t rusty either, he still has the Midas touch.
He has settled into family life and he doesn’t regret his time as DJ both on radio and at nightclubs.
John Dilinga aka DJ JD is a household name in the partying scenes in Dar es Salaam and beyond who first graced the turntables in 1988.
As a teenage prodigy he mesmerized audiences with both his mixing and skills on the microphone that was a requirement for a DJ during those days.
With a career that is stretching to almost three decades JD became one of the first DJs to go multi-media in the late 1990s when he combined his role nightclub and radio.
Just like Kott who served at Club Bilicanas, JD too, had a successful stint at the Dar es Salaam City centre club where he crafted some cult status before venturing out into other personal projects.
After years behind the deck JD hung up his headphones, but the pressure from his great following has forced him back into the night club doing what he does best- mixing the beats.
He has since rebranded first under the tag ‘The Legend is Back’, and now as ‘The Legend Family’ with weekly gigs at Club Rouge, Hyatt Regency in Dar es Salaam.
“It was a following that you couldn’t just ignore, though that is what I had thought in the beginning when I hang up but it sometimes felt irresistible in many ways,” he says.
From his DJ’s booth JD is nostalgic of the past gone by as he too admits that the allure of the night club is no longer what it was in the 80s and 90s.
The proliferation of nightclubs in the suburbs has dealt a blow to what were once the glamourous houses of entertainment.
“Revellers no longer show impulsive interest in discos as it was some 20 years ago. Even with very poor infrastructure, they would still follow a particular disco with its DJs,” he says.