I decided that I would test out my new Canon camera at this event so that I could up the ante on my dance and culture reviews and reflections by having bettah lookin’ pictures. Listen, another tutorial was needed because not a friggin’ picture took, even though I was snapping away. I ended up using my good ole faithful iPhone to capture all the amazing images of beautiful men and women walking, eating, dancing, wuking up, chippin’, or laid out on the grass; I did look professional with my Canon bag though.
I arrived at the event at 5:45pm, parked at Publix, which is across the street from the event site, the Miami Fair Expo Center on the campus of Florida International University. I parked, went inside Publix to use the bathroom, and purchased some gum to prepare for my “mile and a half” hike to the entrance. As I made my way to the fete, I could hear the music getting louder. Reggae tunes were lickin’ off, then Burna Boy’s Last Last was next on the playlist. A series of sweet Soca medleys followed. The curated sounds made the walk a little easier to tolerate.
While on my marathon hike, I heard newbies complaining about the long walk in their various Caribbean accents. I observed vendors selling flags representing a host of countries (my Bahamian flag was attached to my camera bag), waist beads, rum punch, tequila, conch salad, and fresh coconut water. There were ladies fixing feather shoulder pieces and one woman was lotionin’ off her legs and arms. The “Herbalists” were in full effect, smoking carefree in the unregulated space—the air was ripe with the recognizable aroma that soothes the soul, heals the body, and regulates the mind (so dem say).
I finally made it to the entrance at 6:10p.m. (25 minutes later!). As I presented my ticket, walked up to the first security guard to be searched, and then the second security guard to scan my body for metals and other tings, I was glistening and needed a drink. I survived the marathon hike and was ready to see all the things. I surveyed the land, navigating the terrain to determine my strategy of capturing the best images. I noticed that the attendance was lower than the previous year. I also observed the energy was mild. Soca Queen Alison Hinds was on stage singing her infamous “Faluma”; she had the crowd going but it still seemed a little low energy from the cowd. I stood in the concert area for a while, then decided to walk around to the food truck section which was a little sparse considering last year’s number of attendees. Last year it was tick. I saw many revelers sitting at tables eating, drinking, and resting. There were also some seated on the grass. I surmised that maybe dis was di rest time.
I walked through the grounds snapping images (on my iPhone), capturing pictures that informed, educated, and entertained. I asked most people if I could take their picture, many obliged with a smile. Some revelers saw me snapping and just posed enthusiastically. One woman I asked for a pic said “Auntie, I’m way to drunk, but I will take yours instead,” then proceeded to tell me why she used the term “Auntie.” I graciously let her take my picture and thanked her.
I walked closer to the thickness of the crowd and felt the bass reverberate through my spine from the music pumpin’ off the massive trucks. This was a visual and oral treasure trove. The crowd was alive. I made my way back to the concert stage; Edwin Yearwood was on singing his hits. I felt the energy shift, the people dem was in it, full throttle. I guess they had enough rest. Next, artists from Antigua and Barbuda took the stage. Ricardo Drue represented his country well. St. Lucia was up in the di line up and didn’t disappoint. There were several other artists who performed and they mashed it up.
At one point, a series of drones lit the sky up, the audience was captivated at the beautiful lighting, then bammmmm. The lighting read, “Will You Marry Me? Shivani.” Ummmm. Dear Future Hubby. The bar has been set boo. It’s giving big tings a gwan. You light up my life and you are out of this world. That the model…Please and Tanks! After the public display of this person’s love and desire, the audience transitioned back to gettin’ on bad seamlessly. The Soca hits were poppin’, flags were waving, water was flingin’, waistlines were rollin’, and no behavior commenced. The night was fantastic, I even managed to get a little wine from a tall Kittitian (St. Kitts) gentleman. Thank you, sir. Until next year!