A convincing advertising campaign led thousands of soca parang lovers to the Arima Veledrome last Saturday for an evening of enjoyment featuring, according to the ad, the best of the best in soca parang and a variety of great tasting food from which to choose.
The event—Kings of Soca Parang in Concert and Food Festival, promoted by Randy Glasgow Promotions (RGP), the same team behind the Real Unity concert on November 26, 2000, at the Chagaurgamas Heliport when the VIP section came crashing down, causing the adjoining stand to collapse. In addition to that show, RPG has reportedly been associated with a number of poorly organised events.
Granted planning and promoting events may not be as simple as it appears, there are few principles that don’t involve rocket science. Something as simple as checking the weather forecast in advance to determine whether or not you would need to spend a little extra on a few tents to facilitate those patrons who don’t particularly enjoy dancing in the rain. After all, the rainy season has not officially ended and the covered stands at the venue could have only accommodated a small fraction of the soca parang patrons.
Maybe the planners should just have rented the tents, period, and save on the paper towels that the police officers at the gate were handing out to patrons to dry chairs. It was unfortunate that while some patrons should have been enjoying the performances they had to be looking up at the skies, preparing to scamper to shelter from the intermittent showers under the tents in the ‘food court’, which was another story by itself.
How could approximately seven tents lined in an L shape be advertised as a “food festival”? In RGP’s defense though, most of the advertised appetising looking dishes—pastelles, fries, geera pork, soups, provision and stewed chicken and pork, wild meat and pholourie—were available, albeit in tiny, expensive portions. Of the ones I sampled the souse was a huge, bland disappointment, while the geera pork and pholourie got thumbs up, despite the over an hour-long wait for the vendor to mix and fry the batter.
And even someone with no planning experience would have been able to estimate that an event of that magnitude would have required more than one bar to service the number of people expected to attend the event. The owners of the watering holes across the street from the Veledrome may have been the only ones with no complaints, as some patrons opted to make a beeline past the crowds at the lone bar and get their supplies elsewhere. And who could blame them, for another disadvantage of said bar was its close proximity to the toilet facilities, which in the basic event planning principle of venue layout is a major faux pas.
And what was with the sound system? Didn’t those responsible check, double and triple check prior to the start of the event so that patrons who could not get a proper visual of the stage would at least get a good vibe from listening to the music? Several times throughout patrons were forced to ask “What did he (emceeTommy Joseph) say?” And although some showed a 'little' appreciation for the generally uninspiring performances of the much touted artistes, it was a bit of a strain on the ears to hear the lyrics to the songs by the advertised soca parang artistes Crazy, Ronoman, Scrunter, Kenny G and others.
Also, there were a number of no shows. “This show will feature the top soca parang acts alongside several of the most sought after parang bands from Arima and across the island including San Juan, Rio Claro, Maraval and Santa Cruz,” the release from RGP had said. Maybe those “sought after parang bands” got stuck in traffic as a result of rain. “Soca and calypso music would also be represented with several top artistes scheduled to also make guest appearances,” the release had continued. Who knows what happened to them. “This was a waste of our money. We should at least get back half of our money,” said the La Guerres from Maloney who just wanted a fun evening out. “We certainly did not get our money’s worth,” said the mother and daughter from Carapo who left husband/daddy at home for a girls night out. As for the group of young women who left Sangre Grande expecting the sweetest soca parang lime: “It was very stale,” said Tinelle, one member of the group.