2014 Year In Review
Sometimes I am really surprised by how many parties, carnivals, and fetes I attend over the course of one year. I have spent a lot, done a lot, and seen a lot all in the name of soca. While I did get to experience some epic events, there were also the parties that never were. Check out this overview of my year.
Jan-March 2014: The year started off with the typical club parties like Dream and DJ Young Chow's Mad Sick, but it hit its height when I went to Toronto for The Return Fete at Koolhaus. This is the annual party that welcomes everyone back from Trinidad Carnival. In 2014, Dr. Jay brought out 5 Star Akil, Ravi B., and Mr. "25/8" Lyrikal. Kerwin DuBois had everyone in Koolhaus in a gear with "Press A Button," "Spoil Mehself," and "Bacchanalist," but the surprise of the night was when he brought out Farmer Nappy to perform his mega hit "Big People Party."
April-June 2014: Speaking of “Big People Party," Farmer Nappy’s album dropped this year so I had to attend his album release party at SOBs! The soca star wowed the crowd with an unforgettable show to promote the album.
I did not realize how many of my favorite soca songs Farmer Nappy is responsible for, but as he performed each one, I found myself singing along, jumping up, or wining low. Along with fans and guest artist Lady G. (who collaborated with him on a "Surrender" remix), it was great to see the Team Soca family out in force to support the album release! Shouts to DJ Spice, Spoil Bratz, Freeze International, Soca Boyz, and Dr. Jay who flew in from Toronto to emcee the event. I drank, I danced, I had a ball!
The summer kicked off with a great Memorial Day Weekend full of vibes and a chance to shake off the winter blues by going to some outdoor parties. Verve, on Memorial Friday was amazing. Although, I have yet to go to a party organized by Back to Basics Entertainment that is not amazing. That’s right. I said it. Fresh, on Saturday night, featured Mr. Nutron and Kes the Band. On Monday, Back to Basics Ent celebrated the decennial of their annual can't-miss event, Shine, by bringing out Beenie Man, Skinny Fabulous and last minute surprise guest Machel Montano HD! Memorial Weekend suggested that the summer would be full of amazing events and good vibes.
July-Sept 2014: Although it kicked off with bang, there were many disappointments last summer. In New York, parties were shut down early, heavily policed, and some cancellations resulted in scandal. The infamous Canboulay ("Scamboulay") was the worst debacle of the summer. If you want to get folks upset, inform them just two hours prior to the start of the event that it is cancelled or "postponed" without any details. As if that was not bad enough, it was later announced that the event would be held the following day at a smaller venue. With over 4,000 tickets sold and a new location that holds 2,000 people maximum, it was a predictable disaster.
However, with Canboulay in the rear view, Labor Day weekend in Brooklyn was better than it had been in years. Parties in Brooklyn, the Bronx, Queens, and Manhattan were sold out and the Labor Day parade went off without incident. Yes! With the NYPD wearing its customer service face (due largely to the murder of Michael Brown b police in Ferguson, MO), people were able to party in peace.
For me, the highlight of the summer was playing mas in Caribana for the first time. I chose to play with Saldenah (mainly because that's the band where I would hear the best soca deejay in Toronto). I was nervous about showing off my... umm... robust structure on the Lakeshore but my costume was so beautiful and so well made that I forgot my fears... especially when it was time to cross the stage. Although there were some who did not like the change in the parade route, I enjoyed myself (read my review here) and would definitely play with Saldenah again.
October-December 2014: The latter part of the year is usually highlighted by Miami Carnival, however, this year, I chose to forego the usual parties and do something different. Much to the surprise of many of my friends, I opted to party for a cause at Best Fete Forever (BFF) in Toronto. The cost of the event included canned goods for The Daily Bread food bank. While I do not need much cajoling to head to Toronto, this was a great alternative to Miami Carnival. I was honored to be able to be onstage spraying paint on the lively (and wotless) patrons. I honestly feel that if I was in Miami and saw videos like this of BFF, I would have regretted not being there.
So, how does a socaholic, fete junkie wrap up the year? Why, at a ball in Vienna of course. Do not be fooled. The Austrians know how to party. While there was no soca at this event, I did get my reggae and old school hip-hop fix. This was the culmination of a year of firsts for me. Not only did I don a Caribana costume for the first time, but I also took my first transatlantic flight.
I look forward to more firsts in 2015. Who knows? Now that I am able to fly across the Atlantic ocean, maybe you will finally see me at Notting Hill Carnival. Leh we go!