Detroit-born Jerk x Jollof event series thrives amid Afrobeat boom

On a rainy Thursday night in July, a flood of people crowded the bar on the ground floor at Delmar. It’s after midnight and concertgoers have migrated from the Aretha Franklin Amphitheater to the Greektown bar and lounge.

Burna Boy, a Grammy Award-winning, Nigerian Afrobeat singer is in town for a stop on the tour for his sixth studio album, “Love, Damini,” and Delmar is the site for a Thursday edition of the Afro-Caribbean event series Jerk x Jollof to coincide with the concert.

There are women in bodycon dresses slow-whining to the sounds of DJ Blakito spinning a mix of Afrobeat and dancehall music, and men whose eyes peek below trendy bucket hats. Upstairs, on the rooftop patio — where the party started until an unexpected torrential downpour prompted a scenery change — there is a food station kitty cornered to a pink neon light. The lyric, “It was all a dream” casts a glow on tin basins of jollof and coconut rice, sweet plantains and jerk chicken with varying levels of spice.

Jerk X Jollof attendees dance as DJ Kid McFly performs at Delmar in Detroit on July 21, 2022.

Jerk x Jollof organizers had mere days to plan the gathering and still, it’s a packed house and the party goes into the wee hours of the night.

“That was sheer consumer demand,” says Jerk x Jollof founder Brendan Asante. “It was really a unique opportunity for what was probably the biggest Afrobeat show that Detroit has had thus far, so we had to activate on that day — and it ended up working out for us.”

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