Jerk x Jollof rings in 2019 with an Afro-Caribbean jam

The roving club night blends the music, culture and food of African and Caribbean culture; plus 50 other options for New Year’s Eve in Metro Detroit

Melody Baetens
The Detroit News
DJ Frankie B dances on stage alongside friends at an October Jerk x Jollof at El Club.

When Chuks Nwamba graduated from college and entered work life in Detroit, he said he noticed a void in events that featured Afro-Caribbean culture, so he decided to create his own.

His party, Jerk x Jollof, is a recurring, roving nightlife event that celebrates the music, food and culture from those parts of the globe. Nwamba has hosted the event in different forms at venues in Detroit, Ann Arbor and in other states.

“When I was growing up ... it was like a family tradition to go to parties and be able to experience food and music and performance all at the same time .... all aspects of culture,” said Nwamba, whose parents immigrated to Michigan from Nigeria before he was born. “And in Detroit that was something I was really missing.”

This New Year’s Eve, the eclectic and successful party is again taking over all three levels of Saint Andrew’s Hall where last year Nwamba said they moved more than 900 tickets. He’s expecting a sellout crowd on Dec. 31.

“We’re going to be showcasing, as we usually do, African and Caribbean culture, it’s going to be an inviting night that anybody can enjoy,” he said. “We’ll be having food and we’ll be playing the best music from African and Caribbean culture, as well as people’s favorite music.”

DJ Blakito performs during Jerk X Jollof, an African and Caribbean culture networking and dancing event at El Club on Saturday, October 27, 2018 in Detroit.

Besides DJs, Nwamba says there will be live drumming on stage, a confetti blowout and champagne toast at midnight. Food for the VIP ticketholders is provided by Jamaican cuisine catering company Porty Vibez.

Nwamba says the dance floor at Jerk x Jollof events are a diverse group of people, but most are in their 20s and 30s.

“We mostly get many young professions in the city, young millennials, up-and-coming creatives and minority professionals,” he said.

He said Jerk x Jollof hit the ground running in 2016 with a packed 200-person event and has grown steadily ever since. He said through social media, people out-of-state have asked him to bring his party to them. Nwamba, who is working on his master’s degree in strategic design and management at Parsons School, recently moved from Detroit to New York, so he plans to host a Jerk x Jollof event there in 2019.

“Now I see it as a platform for people to connect and build community through culture and learn about not only the history of African/Caribbean culture, but even their own culture and representing where you’re from and embracing it ... it’s like a form of empowerment for the community to get to know each other and learn more and not be afraid to embrace their own culture.”

To further that mission of Jerk x Jollof, Nwamba said they’re hoping to expand their college scholarship program for minorities. He said the parties have funded a $500 scholarship each year, and he plans to grow the fund even more in the upcoming year.

“We’re going to continue to grow in creative ways,” he said.


Twitter: @melodybaetens

Jerk X Jollof

An evening of African and Caribbean culture, cuisine and entertainment with DJs Frank B. and Blakito

8 p.m. Mon.

Saint Andrew’s Hall

431 E. Congress, Detroit

$30, $50 VIP

Table reservations and bottle packages available by emailing info@jerkxjollof.com.


Staff prepares drinks at the Willis Show Bar.

50 More New Year’s Eve Parties

All events are Monday, Dec. 31

Clubs, bars and banquet parties

Sippin’ Santa’s Surf Shack, a holiday tiki bar pop-up at the Skip, 9 p.m. No cover. The Belt, 225 Gratiot, Detroit. theskipdetroit.com.

Poppin’ Bottles with balloon drop and Miller High Life toast at midnight at Second Best Detroit, 4 p.m. No cover. 42 Watson, Detroit. (313) 315-3077.

Mike “Agent X” Clark and more at Northern Lights Lounge, 6 p.m.-4 a.m. No cover. 660 W. Baltimore, Detroit. (313) 873-1739.

“Rock the Boat” New Year’s Eve with DJs, live music and dinner on Detroit Princess, 7 p.m. gates open. Cruising 10 p.m.-12:30 a.m. $99. 20 Civic Center, Detroit. detroitprincess.com.

New Year’s Eve with open bar, hors d'oeuvres, dinner, live band and DJs at Burton Manor Banquet and Event Center, 7 p.m.-1 a.m. $100 and up. 27777 Schoolcraft, Livonia. (734) 427-9100.

New Year’s Eve at the Mansion with DJs, live jazz, stand-up comedy, karaoke, strolling hors d'oeuvres, hand-rolled cigars and more at Detroit Club, 8 p.m. $125 and up. Dinner packages available. 712 Cass, Detroit. (313) 800-8727 or DetroitForNye.com.

Resolution Ball with balloon drop, confetti storm, entertainment, and more at Fillmore Detroit, 8 p.m. $120-$155. 2115 Woodward, Detroit. (313) 961-5451 or livenation.com.

Midnight in Paris NYE event with balloon drop, laser show, food, entertainment and more at Annex Nightclub, 8 p.m.-4 a.m. $30. 24 W. Adams, #B, Detroit. Eventbrite.com.

Countdown to NYE with live entertainment, food, cocktails, dancing and more at Embassy Suites Livonia, 8:30 p.m.-3 a.m. $99 and up. VIP and hotel packages available. 19525 Victor Parkway, Livonia. countdown2nye.com.

NYE 2019 with DJs and dancing, food and cocktails at the Wintergarden at the GM Renaissance Center, 9 p.m. $75 and up. 400 Reniassance Drive, Detroit. detroitfornye.com.

New Year’s Eve with cocktails, small plates and live performance by Ben Sharkey at Wright & Company, 9 p.m. $125. 1500 Woodawrd, Floor 2, Detroit. Eventbrite.com.

Y2K-themed New Year’s Eve Party with DJ and sparkling punch at Punch Bowl Social, 9 p.m. No cover. 1331 Broadway, Detroit. (313) 749-9738.

New Year’s Eve with party favors and champagne toast at Firebird Tavern, 9 p.m.-3 a.m. $20 at the door. 419 Monroe, Detroit. (313) 782-4189.

Latin NYE 2018 with DJs and dancing at Loco’s Skylounge, 9 p.m. $15 and up. 454 E. Lafayette, Detroit. (313) 244-8700.

New Year’s Eve Party with IPA toast at midnight at Eastern Market Brewing Co., 9 p.m. $60 (includes 3 drinks, food and toast). 2515 Riopelle, Detroit. (313) 502-5165.

Detroit Rave City with DJ Assault, Ryan Fink, Bobby Conway and more with balloon drop and more at Leland City Club, 9 p.m. $15 before 10 p.m., $20 after. 400 Bagley, Detroit. (313) 962-2300.

New Year’s Eve with champagne toast, balloon drop, DJs, food, open bar, party favors and more at David Whitney Building, 9 p.m. $125. 1 Park Avenue, Detroit. Eventbrite.com.

NYE Bleuout with DJs Eran Herch, Yos, Juice, Robbie Rio and Panic Attack at Bleu Detroit, 9 p.m. $25. 1540 Woodward, Detroit. (313) 974-7799.

New Year’s Eve on the Rocks with live band and DJ at Flood’s Bar & Grille, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. $25 and up. 731 St. Antoine, Detroit. (313) 963-1090.

DJ BET, passed small plates, party favors, cocktails and champagne toast at the Peterboro, 9 p.m. $64.95. 420 Peterboro, Detroit. Eventbrite.com.

The End of It All Ball with DJs, holiday buffet and party favors at Menjos Entertainment Complex, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. No cover. 928 W. McNichols, Detroit. (313) 863-3934.

Thirst Wave + Industrial is Not Dead with DJs Pleasure Kitten, Elektrosonik, Aaron Hingst and Raev plus free appetizer buffet at Small’s Bar, 9 p.m. $8 in advance, $10 at the door. 10339 Conant, Hamtramck. smallsbardetroit.com.

Joey Radio from Channel 95.5, food, champagne toast, party favors, balloon drop and confetti at Orchid Ferndale, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. $6 in advance. 141 W. Nine Mile, Ferndale. (248) 336-8077.

Mixology and Infinity Sounds at Kola Restaurant & Ultra Lounge, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. $10. 32523 Northwestern Hwy., Farmington Hills. (248) 932-5652.

DJ Marquis Detroit and Mike Fresh at Emerald Theatre, 9 p.m. $15, $45 VIP. 31 N. Walnut, Mount Clemens. ticketweb.com.

Concerts and live entertainment

Alex Harding, plus champagne toast at midnight at Whiskey Parlor, jazz, 5 p.m. $10. 608 Woodward, Second Floor, Detroit. (313) 961-3043.

Legends Live with tributes to Dean Martin, Motown, Karen Carpenter and Tom Jones plus buffet dinner and more at Bentley Banquet & Conference Center, oldies/standards, 6 p.m. $85. 646 Biddle, Wyandotte. (734) 285-4044.

Wyandotte Rockin’ NYE with Sponge with Wally Palmer of the Romantics in Downtown Wyandotte, rock, 6 p.m. Free, VIP packages available. Downtown Wyandotte. RockinNYE.com.

Planet D Nonet and Jeff Cuny Trio at Cliff Bell’s, jazz, 6:30 p.m.-1: a.m. $25 (late entry, no dinner) $100 (includes dinner). 2030 Park, Detroit. (313) 961-2543.

“All-Star Showdown” improv comedy show plus food and prizes at Go Comedy! Improv Theater, 7:30 and 10 p.m. $35-$50. 261 E. Nine Mile, Ferndale. (248) 327-0575.

Comedian Darrin Rose at Mark Ridley’s Comedy Castle, 7:30 and and 10:30 p.m. $27.50 and $35. 310 S. Troy, Royal Oak. (248) 542-9900.

Krillin with Jemmi Hazeman & the Honey Riders and the Imaginatron at PJ’s Lager House, rock/electronic, 8 p.m. $10. 1254 Michigan, Detroit. (313) 961-4668.

Mega 80s at Magic Bag, pop/rock, 8 p.m. $35 in advance. 22920 Woodward, Ferndale. (248) 544-1991.

Billy Strings at Flagstar Strand Theatre for the Performing Arts, country/Americana, 8 p.m. $29.50 and up. 12 N. Saginaw, Pontiac. (248) 309-6448.

Stormy Chromer with Chirp and Biomassive at Blind Pig, rock, 8 p.m. $15. 208 S. First, Ann Arbor. (734) 996-8555.

Comedian K-Von at Ann Arbor Comedy Showcase, 8 and 10:30 p.m. $25 and $30. 212 S. Fourth, Ann Arbor. (734) 996-9080.

Laura Rain and the Caesars at London Chop House, blues/soul, 9 p.m. No cover. 155 W. Congress, Detroit. (313) 962-0277.

Dean James & the Treatment at Kid Rock’s Made in Detroit, rock, 9 p.m. $10. 2645 Woodward, Detroit. (313) 462-8620.

CUPCAkKE with DJ Killa Squid, Tiny Jag and more at El Club, hip-hop, 9 p.m.-4 a.m. $25-$500. 4114 W. Vernor, Detroit. (313) 436-1793.

The Heavy Petters, burlesque dancers, DJs, open bar and food at Willis Show Bar, jazz/funk/variety, 9 p.m. $125. 4156 Third, Detroit. (313) 788-7469.

The Strains, Ladyship Warship and End at Old Miami, rock, 9 p.m. $5. 3930 Cass, Detroit. (313) 831-3830.

Gatsby New Year’s Eve Gala with the Dave Vessella Quartet at Loving Touch, jazz, 9 p.m. $25-$40. 22634 Woodward, Ferndale. (248) 820-5596.

Rock-In the Blue Year with Big Ray & the Motor City Kings, Jason Bone & the Pocket Aces and Big Al’s Blak Dog at Joy Manor, blues/rock, 9 p.m. $25, $50 for dinner with show. 28999 Joy, Westland. (734) 525-0960.

Journey tribute band at Youngers Irish Tavern, classic rock, 9 p.m. $40. 120 S. Main, Romeo. (586) 752-4400.

Alexander Zonjic and his Band with Jeff Lorber and Peter White at Trenton Village Theater, jazz, 9:30 p.m. $55. 2447 W. Jefferson, Trenton. zonjic.com.

Detroit Blues Band at Blue Goose Inn, blues, 9:30 p.m. $10. 28911 Jefferson, St. Clair Shores. (586) 296-0950.

The Music of Whitney Houston with Detroit Symphony Orchestra and Rashidra Scott at Orchestra Hall at the Max, pop/R&B/classical, 10 p.m. $150-$3000. 3711 Woodward, Detroit. (313) 576-5111 or dso.org.


Noon Year’s Eve, a party for preschool and elementary-aged children at Detroit Historical Museum, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Free. 5401 Woodward, Detroit. detroithistorical.org.

Kiddie toast with sparkling juice plus games, activities, balloon and ball drop and more in heated tent at Beacon Park, 1-6 p.m. Free. 1901 Grand River, Detroit. (313) 962-0101.

Party for a Purpose fundraiser for local resident battling cancer with ball drop, silent auction, bowling, football bowling, laser tag and more at Legacy 925, 6 p.m. $50 adults, $30 kids. 925 N. Lapeer, Oxford. thelegacy925.com.

Melody Baetens