Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : March 19th 2015 Contents B9
Thursday, March 19, 2015 www.guardian.co.tt Guardian
A little bit of Trinidad---well, actually,
quite a large bit of Trinidad and several
other Caribbean islands---crammed itself
into a nightclub in central London last
Friday for a rammed, rowdy, rag-waving
night of soca, as Kes performed to a deliri-
ous mob at the famous Scala nightclub in
The heat inside the venue was a welcome
relief for the thousand-plus soca fans who
had queued for well over an hour in the
freezing cold of a March night in London.
TS Eliot once wrote that April is the cruellest
month. I ve never quite known the meaning
of that, but March is the worst by far. Jan-
uary passes quickly, February has the
romance of Valentine s Day. March just
drags winter on and on, well beyond its
sell-by date, encroaching upon the spring
that tries to emerge, beats it back shivering
Earlier that week, warm sunshine had
raised England s hopes. The kind of sun to
make rabbits hop and spring lambs gambol.
But outside the archaic venue the bitterly
cold wind whipped around the legs of the
brave girls in pum pum shirts and dresses,
in the queue that snaked menacingly
halfway up the Grays Inn Road almost to
Soca frenzy in freezing London
the Ear, Nose and Throat hospital and didn t appear
to be moving at all.
There were some gambolling lambs in the line,
but also packs of hungry, not to mention thirsty,
wolves. The vibe was bizarre.
Joining the end of the queue we heard Trini voic-
es---civilised, well-bred---but we quickly grew impa-
tient with the non-moving line and wandered forward
to inspect the shorter "VIP and birthday" line.
Two hapless fellows guarding the VIP line were
struggling to contain the waves of chancers swigging
rum and claiming it was their birthdays.
"Let she in, let she in!" barked one man at the
Suddenly a Convent accent rang out in the crisp
London night. We had been recognised and rescued.
God bless St Joseph s Convent, Port-of-Spain. Sapen-
tia et Sciencia. That bastion of all that is good and
just. Quickly we were smuggled into the warm throng
of body heat.
The fumes of rum and marijuana smoke still cir-
cled---infusing the usual London smells of kebabs,
McDonalds and diesel with something more tropical.
Some of the faces in the crowd were downright
"This is not a usual Kes crowd," our Convent sav-
iours guffawed. "This is an Iwer crowd!" We kept
our hands firmly in our pockets as hooded fellas
with bad intentions lurked in the swaying and heaving
queue. The safety barrier separating us from the
VIP was knocked over repeatedly. The Convent girls
were being jammed on, even before the first strains
of soca could be heard from within. They had trav-
elled up from Canterbury in Kent: the garden of
"I couldn t miss Kes, not after missing Carnival,"
they said, beaming.
Next to them a young man told us he d travelled
down from Grimsby---a fishing port with a clue in
its name, located on the north east coast, four hours,
177 miles away.
"I like soca too bad yes," he grinned.
Seeing and hearing so many Trinis concentrated
in this one spot was surreal, heartwarming and con-
fusing. Where are they all on a normal day? I won-
dered. It made me think that more frequent events
like this are needed to bring the ex-pat Trinis in
Britain together. I don t get the sense that there s
a cohesive community who know each other like
they do back home.
Near the entrance a car backed up to the curb
and two men emerged, popped the trunk and started
selling roti from out the back.
"We from Couva so you know this roti good,"
they said, smiling.
A rather baleful vendor selling whistles and flags
didn t appear to be doing a roaring trade---but once
we were inside there were flags from Grenada, St
Lucia, Antigua, Jamaica, Dominica, Montserrat and
And once inside, the atmosphere changed. The
rowdiness turned to pure joy as the DJ bashed out
soca classics from Alison Hinds, Machel Montano,
Biggy Irie, Blaxx, Patrice, Destra et al.
At around 2.30 am, Kes hit the stage with an
enormous grin and performed a brilliant crowd-
pleasing set including reggae and dancehall freestyles
alongside his soca hits.
Despite the over-zealous security operation that
had kept people waiting in the cold, the venue was
clearly oversold with no room to move on the dance
floor or the balconies.
It was good to see a well-rehearsed Kes enjoying
himself, looking as comfortable as if he was playing
an all-inclusive fete back home. We departed at 4
am with the sound of Party Done ringing in our
ears, looking forward to the next one. We bought
a roti from the Couva men but, like the weather, it
was cold so we waited until home to put it in the
oven. In London you can never fully replicate the
heat of Trinidad, but Kes certainly stoked the fires.
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