Feelin' the Tallinn Rasta vibe

  • 2008-02-20
  • By James Michel

SPIRITS LIFTED: An enthusiastic crowd lifts up fellow concert goers in a fantastic rush of energy, enthusiasm and gusto, riding the smooth and mellow waves of reggae music.

TALLINN - Reggae Bar in Tallinn is best symbolized by a single haircut worn by some of its customers: a buzz-cut on the sides, mohawk in the middle, complete with a dreadlocked mullet in the back.
The traditional colors of reggae and Rastafaria-nism'sthose of the Ethiopian flag: green, gold, and red'swelcome customers from the door and lead them into an unmistakably Eastern Euro-pean bar that delights in having come closest in town to reproducing the free spirit of the music founded by the late Bob Marley. You'll find photos and posters of Bob's free spirit plastered over the walls beside a motherly bartender, who would probably just as well make borscht as an iceless cocktail.

Customers can purchase reggae's favorite beer, Saku Rock, for 30 kroons (2 euros) from the bar, complimented by a large rectangular pillar completely covered with dried palm fronds. A few tables and a surprisingly large collection of fake-leather sofas frame the open space of the first of two rooms. Thatched roofs protect some tucked-away sofas from the imaginary sun. The adjacent room is set with a similar layout but dominated by a large stage, tinted with smooth, dim lighting.
Although when entering on a performance night seating seems limited, within a short time something will open up'sa couch or random chair in the middle of the room'sfor Reggae Bar on performance nights is hardly a place for sitting, but for dancing. The high energy of the stage, the bumping ska which leaves no fist un-pumped, and the anticipation of three performances create an enthusiastic pre-show atmosphere.

The mood spills over into the first band of the evening, which animatedly plays its adapted "paru-ska" (the Russian ska), while the audience bangs around. The second, genuine reggae ensemble then takes the stage and drops their lyrics in Russian while the audience dips their knees and jogs in place. Then on to the third; an Austrian ska/reggae/pop cast of eight members that includes horns, strings, voice, and kit. This round is sung in English, which only encourages the audience to leap and cheer more.    There is little that compares to the wild reggae and ska dancing crowds in the Estonian winter. Even in this underground and darkly-lit setting, amongst the smell of beer-soaked sofas and ketchup, somehow the sun seems to shine like mid-July, as the party climbs the proverbial windowsill and dives into the hands of moshing ska fiends.  When the crowd clears from the center of the dance floor in order to erect a ten-person human pyramid, one may wonder why they don't participate every night and add souls to the reggae community.

Reggae Bar provides a music society alternate to the DJ list at many mainstream bars and clubs, and by the end of the night one is likely to receive invitations to an exhaustive list of similar live music performances around Tallinn.
Reggae Bar presents a balance of Estonian and Rasta culture, unique not only to a parking lot on the wing of the Central Market, but to all of the Baltics.

Reggae Bar
Keldrimae 9