The Pettah Interchange concert in the Gaffoor Building was one of best shows I’ve been to in Colombo. Picture, if you will, the scene. The Gaffoor Building is a triangular colonial edifice that points to the Colombo Port. It is one of the more iconic and beautiful spots in the CMB (check out the 24-hour Harbour Stop restaurant) but it was also severely neglected during the war. They even made part of it a parking lot. As in, paved over paradise, you know. Last weekend, however, artists from all over reclaimed the space and Colombars retook the space again.
You can see from the video above. I know the Gaffoor a bit, but I hadn’t been to the parking lot. We’d always passed by and decry what a horror that idea was, but it turned out to be a great (if somewhat hot) place for a concert/rave. They had musicians below and people having drinks and watching from above. There was also an underground area that later became a dancefloor as the party went on (I apparently got sleepy and grumpy at some point and was taken home).
I dunno if it’ll work out quite like this, but I remember when Park Street Mews was just a dingy warehouse and Anjalie Flamer-Caldera et al transformed it for the first ArtWalk. Now it’s one of the hippest restaurants in Colombo and the whole warehouse block is almost a gentrified district in and of itself.
In the same way, the Pettah Interchange was a move to slowly reclaim central Colombo, the city really, after the war scared everyone away. The Dehiwallas and Nugedabbas Cinnamon Gardeners now tentatively occupy the Fort via the O! Bar at Dutch Hospital, where everybody goes, always. Now I think they’re opening up shops behind there and there seems to be a Flower Drum coming up. People are slowly pushing back into Fort.
But the concert. It was a great night, as people continually commented, throughout the night. I knew so many people there and everyone was non pervy and chill. There was a vibrant mix of people and a great mix of artists and DJs from Sri Lanka, India, Germany, etc, organized by the Border Movement. Prior to this the artists had spent two weeks on Ruskin Island (Bolgoda Lake), jamming and creating new music especially for the show. It was very interesting, different, and creative (if not eminently danceable). Later they took to a different stage which became a packed dance floor.
It was very cool. Good for the artists, good for the scene, and good for Colombo.