Commonly shortened to UPT by character conscious Twitter users, Uptown is an evergreen discussion on Jamaican social media. Even downtown seems fascinated with Uptown. But where’s Uptown, or who is Uptown?
We could simply say it is the cardinal opposite of downtown Kingston. Geography could be the ultimate definer, whether or not someone lives the lifestyle or has the mentality. Uptown residents clearly favour the highlands: Cherry Gardens, Beverly Hills & Long Mountain, Riva Ridge, Norbrook, Jack’s Hill, Stony Hill and Red Hills. That these areas are poorly served by public transport defines the socio-economic status.
The same is true for those who dwell on the plains of Liguanea, or in Barbican and Mona. So it’s safe to say that if your MP is Fayval Williams, there’s a 50% chance you’re considered an UPTowner.
UPTowners have their own sense of spatial awareness; anything south of Half-Way Tree is downtown and anything outside of Kingston is “bush” (yes, even Portmore). The appearance of an uptown person outside the usual climes is so rare, it once made the news. These people have only been to Clarendon because it’s on the way to Mandeville, the uptown of rural Jamaica. Such a trip, often referred to as a ‘country run,’ finds destinations in Mandeville, Port Antonio, Ocho Rios, Negril and, now trending, Treasure Beach.
Following this weekly country run, they head off to whatever new bar/club/party/pop-up restaurant is trendy for that month and mingle with the same people from the last 10 events. The entire event goes on Snapchat or Instagram Live and will include a video of people drunkenly singing along to the latest Soca or Dancehall hit, or jumping offbeat to EDM.
The follow up Insta post always comes out at strategic times so they can maximise on likes and will most likely appear on the explore pages of the masses. At these events they’re usually clad in whatever clothes they bought on their last trip to Miami or New York, or something they bought online. They’re the first to complain that shopping in Jamaica is far too expensive compared to Amazon. But this has never deterred them from picking up groceries exclusively at Sovereign and Loshusan.
Their “farrin” vacation destinations are Miami, New York, Toronto and London, and they usually have passports to match their farrin destinations, or perhaps a resident’s permit. If you don’t at least have a tourist visa, you can count yourself out of uptown.
Geography and travel habits are not the only uptown characterisations. Early stages of socialisation included private prep schools, traditional high schools or Hillel/AISK for the very wealthy few and then matriculating to tertiary studies abroad, probably a small liberal arts college. Boarding school or online home schooling is also now a popular choice.
If none of these social habits resonate with you, you’re either an extreme uptown introvert or you were never uptown at all.