The brain churns, the heart pounds and the waist gyrates while the
hands wait patiently for that moment to play.
that special feeling that all pan musicians experience. Why do they
want to take away this from them? This question has come about as
more and more steel bands appear to be losing their
Pan yards are not just for music lessons or practice sessions, it
also provides a forum for other social activities. It’s a focal
point where all can frequent and possibly get involved in the many
activities provided including heated discussions on global affairs.
The atmosphere generated in a pan yard acts like a magnet to draw
members of its community to it. Its social aura encourages
interaction thereby affording the community a vital and rewarding
I ask the question, why would you want to get rid of such an
important icon offering so much benefit to our communities? It
appears that steel bands are being forced out of their local
communities and in some cases into isolation like Phase 11 Pan
Groove and Starlift. Prime examples of being cited pan yards away
from any immediate community. Walk into Phase 11 Pan Groove’s
‘Village’ and experience the astounding ambience generated from its
natural surroundings. A personification of how pan yards have
progressed through the years but still retaining its social aspects
e.g. the stand pipe and ‘lime’ under the dounce tree.
The UK’s premier steel orchestra, Ebony, champions of the European
Steel Band Music Festival in 2000 and 2002 as well as the Notting
Hill Champions of Steel victors thirteen times has been moved from
their premises at the Acklam Centre having been tenants for many
years, in fact the same building was home to Bay 57 steel band back
in the 70s.
Rollock’s London All Stars have been without a pan yard for the past
two years and the lack of this facility meant that Frank Rollock and
his merry makers have been unable to participate in the Notting Hill
Champions of Steel competition. Nostalgia, the traditional steel
band from the 50s, an icon of the British Steel band fraternity led
by Sterling Betancourt MBE, an original member of TASPO; has
recently been given notice to quit their current pan yard at the
Maxilla Club in West London. Forest Gate Steel Orchestra now renamed
the Newham Steel Orchestra is also without a pan yard and has been
looking feverishly for premises to practice.
steel band, the UK’s current Champions of Steel and acclaimed as the
most travelled band in the UK has been without a pan yard since the
closure of the Tabernacle but live in hopes that it will be
re-opened soon and they will be allowed to retain their residence.
Take a look around your neighbourhoods and the story goes on.
In our diverse societies it is important that we retain our cultural
heritage to continue to effectively contribute to the multi cultural
fabric that weaves us together to as a valuable society. In this era
of global violence it stands to reason that efforts to encourage
people to play a musical instrument in its own environment requires
immediate action as well as ample investment, support, dedication
and understanding from the corporate and government institutions
that hold the life line to the very existence of this important
cultural icon in our society.
Let us not forget that music is the food of love. So let’s feed our
nations with this magical food in order to make sweet music not
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