Whether you were a patron or a vendor at Soca Royale last Sunday, you were in for a blast.
Eighteen acts hit the Bushy Park stage, but only two victors emerged at the end of the night: Lil Rick was triumphant in reclaiming his Party Monarch crown with Energy, while Red Plastic Bag (RPB) rocked the St Philip venue with Boat Ride, taking home the Sweet Soca title after five years.
It was a wholesome atmosphere throughout the afternoon as people gradually arrived with their coolers and chairs, laying out for the family fun event. But seats were quickly forgotten around 6:30 p.m. as hundreds flooded into the venue for the beginning of the Party Monarch competition. Patrons opted to stand for a clearer view of the performances, while food and drink stalls were bustling with activity as vendors busied themselves catering to patrons.
Jackie Burke of Jackie’s Bar and Grill could barely catch a breath as she filled the orders of the hungry partiers. Her fifth year attending the competition, Burke was pleased with the sweet sales and sounds of soca blasting from the speakers. Burke told Bajan Vibes she and her employees always looked forward to the Crop Over season.
Sandra Moore of Sha Lana’s was also enjoying herself. Her stall had no complaints, as patrons came in their numbers to stock up on the local fruit wines. But she was also there for the music. Moore informed Bajan Vibes that she has been a frequent attendee of the Soca Royale competition since “the East Coast days”.
Pointing out that the change in format to include a separate Sweet Soca component had been well received by all, due to its growing popularity, Moore, who had Marzville’s Give It To Ya as her song of the season, commended the organizers for their execution of the show.
While many complained about the long wait to get into the show as a result of numerous security checks by the Royal Barbados Police Force, Moore said: “I don’t mind at all. I think that the extra steps to put all of that security outside . . . would help to ease the fears and the tensions of the patrons, as well as the stall owners.”
However, it was Deborah Prescott’s first time attending the show, and she was not happy with the delay in entering the venue. The visiting national from New York attended the competition with her family after missing out on the Crop Over Festival for three years.
“For a show that has been going on for a while, you should be getting in faster. You can’t have just two people for security for a big show like this, but otherwise I’m having a fabulous time,” she said while indicating that Shackle Out by Leadpipe and Saddis was her favourite song of the season.
While RPB’s Sweet Soca win was no surprise for the audience, cheers echoed throughout Bushy Park for the veteran calypsonian.
The competition was keenly contested, but from the start Rochelle Shallow knew that RBP had it in the bag for Sweet Soca. However, she remained hopeful for newcomer Marzville who delivered a solid performance.
“Marzville, he really surprised me a lot,” she commented.
The Sweet Soca competition, the highlight of the night, also featured TC, Shaquille, Nikita, Lil Rick, Sanctuary, Marvay and Red Plastic Bag.