Veteran entertainers have given thumbs up to the possibility that the Sweet Soca and Party Monarch competitions could become nighttime events from next year.
Minister of Culture Stephen Lashley announced to the media last night, during the National Cultural Foundation-produced Soca Royale at Bushy Park, that the transition may be “necessary and highly possible” given that artistes competing in both competitions have been increasingly incorporating lighting and special effects in their performances.
“I think this is something that we may have to do . . . Two years ago we moved one aspect of the competition into the night and one of the things that we may very well contemplate is putting both of the competitions during the night time and that is something that we may have to consult with our stakeholders about,” the minister said.
Stedson Red Plastic Bag Wiltshire, Ronnie De Announcer Clarke, Anderson Blood Armstrong and Mac Fingall told Barbados TODAY they were in full support of any such move.
Wiltshire, who placed second in this year’s Sweet Soca competition said he was extremely happy to hear the minister talking about heading in that direction since he has been lobbying for that for the past three years.
“I have been saying for some time now that both competitions must be held in the night”.
In addition to providing more of a show for spectators, since lighting plays a vital role in both competitions, Wiltshire pointed out that the heat during the day is also a disadvantage for day performances since it saps the energy of both performers and patrons.
“When you are back there in the tent as a performer, it is extremely hot and draining and by time you are ready to go on stage you would have perspired and perspired and perspired and most of your energy is gone, and it is just not good for a performer,” the former monarch said.
“I know security is also going to be an issue, but I think that as a people we have been very well behaved and the forces have done an excellent job over the years and they can do it in the night as well,” he added as he expressed the hope that discussion would move to approval and implementation.
Meantime, Wiltshire insisted that any idea of giving the Party Monarch aspect of the competition more attention than the Sweet Soca should be discarded.
“It is a mistake,” he said. “To me the music that is going to take our music forward is going to be the Sweet Soca songs and we need to stop treating the competition as being secondary to the Party Monarch.”
In giving his support to the idea, Blood also referred to performers and patrons benefitting from the grand spectacle of fireworks and lights illuminating the sky in the darkness of night.
“From a performer’s point of view it is not going to be a bad move,” he said. “But I don’t know how they are going to market it as a family day.”
Clarke, although agreeing to the move that he said would follow the tradition in the region of major events being held at night, also noted that it might no longer appeal to families because of the late hours.
“So you have to take those things into consideration. But without doubt I can visualize . . . what the competition that we saw yesterday would have been like if it had been held at night, especially when you look at how some of the artistes in the Party Monarch competition would have pulled out all the stops out in terms of their visuals and other elements of presentations,” said the calypsonian whose brother Rupert Rupee Clarke has been a finalist in previous Party Monarch competitions.
Fingall, who is usually Master of Ceremonies for Soca Royale, also believes there should be flexibility in the “order” of the competitions, giving whichever is deemed more exciting second position.
As for concerns that a later show would affect Soca Royale’s billing as a family event, Fingall said he saw nothing wrong with children being out at night to witness the competitions.
“Bring them out at night; they got to understand night life too. We are not going to be there until all past midnight or nothing. Both shows last about an hour and a half maximum. So let us say three hours with a little half hour break in between, we could finish that show in four hours. Even if we start at 7 o’clock, that should be finished by 11,” he said.
“It is just a matter of getting people out of there and that place is set up in such a way that there is a back gate that can be used to alleviate the flow. And you just need to get a little more lighting and put security in place and everything will be safe. You got to think about the good and just protect against the bad.”
This year, the Sweet Soca competition started at 4:30 pm, while the Party Monarch got underway at 7 pm.