RIP REGGAE POPS
➻ “I got into reggae through my next-door neighbor in Alhambra. He was a young man, a judge’s son, and I used to listen to him play reggae music until one day I said, ‘White boy, you really getting down! You got somethin’!’ ”
➻ Nemencio Jose Andujar was born in the Bronx in 1943. He moved to Los Angeles 35 years ago and overcame an addiction to alcohol and gambling. These days his passion is dancing. He earned his nickname while making the rounds on the L.A. reggae music scene.
➻ “Dancing is the best form of exercise, the best way of jelling with others. You can dance by yourself, you can dance with a hundred people. Just go with the flow. Enjoy yourself, and let others enjoy who you are.”
➻ Popularized by Bob Marley, reggae originated in Jamaica in the late 1960s, evolving from ska and rocksteady. Some attribute the term to a “ragged” style of dance music, while others credit the 1968 recording “Do the Reggay” by Toots and the Maytals.
➻ For the past eight years Pops has been a beloved fixture on the live music (mostly reggae) circuit. He now gets into most clubs and concerts for free, which he refers to as “getting love.” He gets so much love, his biggest expense for his lifestyle is gas money.
➻ “I tell guys that dancing is such an easy thing. It’s like playing basketball. You know you’re going to have to defend this person, so you watch what she’s doing. Then you get eye contact, and you post up. I tell girls, ‘Don’t look at my feet. Do the dance that you would do in the mirror.’ ”
➻ Pops is a land surveyor for Caltrans. He works from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m., leaving evenings open for going out, which he does four times a week.
➻ “I used to go out every night, but my body is telling me, ‘Old man, you got to give me some rest, ’cause if you don’t take care of me, I’m not going to take care of you.’ ”
➻ His 69th-birthday party in March was a public event: There were nearly a dozen DJs and a balloon in his likeness that featured his signature straw fedora.
➻ He’s developed a fan base, with more than 5,000 Facebook friends. The company Frolab sells “Reggae Pops Is My Homeboy” T-shirts for $20.
➻ Pops’s top five favorite venues in the city are the Echoplex, Vanguard, House of Blues, Exchange LA, and Azul.
➻ “I take a lot of power naps. If I’m driving, I’ll pull into a parking lot and get my snooze in.”