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Party Nuh Nice Again: Jamaica and Trinidad

Updated: Mar 31

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Periodically, things undergo disruptive metamorphosis, sometimes resulting in a shift from good to bad. The entertainment industry, like many others, has been undergoing a dramatic transformation in recent years. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about a period of high-interest rates and inflation that has severely impacted the quality of entertainment available to patrons across the Caribbean. In addition to high-interest rates and inflation, there has also been a shift in the mindset of patrons engaging in the party arena. 

Trinidad Carnival 2024 – Sunrise Sunnation

 

Many patrons, especially Caribbean locals, are disgruntled about the state of parties in their countries. They believe they have been paying more but receiving less value from the parties they attend.

 

I continue to be an avid lover of music and dance, and as such, I have been working hard to get 'my groove back'. Since January 1st, 2024, my birthday, I have attended a total of fourteen (14) parties between Jamaica and Trinidad. These provided me with a great opportunity to experience and rate the party scene in both countries. Trinidad Carnival 2024 was an amazing experience; most of the parties I attended delivered above my expectations. There were only a few new soca songs available so the DJs had no choice but to play from past catalogues. I enjoyed living my memories through the many old hits that lit up the space. 


Trinidad Carnival 2024 – A.M. Beach

 

Caribbean parties are renowned worldwide for their vibrant energy and unique cultural fusions. Jamaica and Trinidad are particularly celebrated across the globe for hosting some of the most unforgettable parties. The party experiences in these two (2) countries are evolving. The evolution includes sky-high ticket prices, bottle services akin to upscale clubs, high tables occupying 70% of the dance areas, more chatterbox DJs and selectors engaging more in banter than playing music while making themselves the centre of attention. Then there are the multiple artistes on stage, a trend that is reminiscent of stage shows. Additionally, I believe that the ‘big spender’ habits of 'diasporians' and 'choppers' have helped the decline of dancing at many parties, replaced instead by a focus on profiling.


Stink & Dutty - Good Party with Implications

 

Party Review – Jamaica & Trinidad

 

The table below shows the 14 parties that I attended since January 1, 2024 in Jamaica and Trinidad:

 

Item

Name of Party

Country

Price

Review

1

Sunrise Sunnation

Jamaica

US$242.00

Limited dancing. Many high tables. Bottle service. DJs chat a lot.

2

Frenchmen

Jamaica

US$312.00

Authentic party vibe. Long food and drink lines. DJs were great.

3

Night Carnival

Jamaica

US$38.00

Limited dancing. Many high tables. Bottle service. DJs chat a lot.

4

Stink & Dutty

Trinidad

US$80.60

Authentic party vibe. Popular artistes. DJs were great.

5

Fatima

Trinidad

US$191

Popular artistes. Bar and food great. DJs were great.

6

Vale Vibes

Trinidad

US$74

Authentic party vibe. Popular artistes. DJs were great.

7

Deja Vu Boat Party

Trinidad

US$44

Intimate party. No artistes. DJs were great.

8

A.M. Beach

Trinidad

US$160.00

Authentic party vibe. Bar and food great. Many top artistes.

9

Farmhouse

Trinidad

US$87.48

Authentic party vibe. DJs were great.

10

Sunrise Sunnation

Trinidad

US$215.50

Large crowd. Beautiful setup. DJs were on point. Many top artistes.

11

Bayview

Trinidad

US$176

Authentic party vibe. DJs were great.

12

Soca Brainwash

Trinidad

US$250.67

Large crowd. Access to food and drinks difficult. DJs chat a lot.

13

Soaka Street Festival

Trinidad

US$129

Authentic party vibe. Many top artistes. DJs were on point. Easy access to food.

14

Soca Baby Boat Ride

Trinidad

US$64

Authentic party vibe. No artistes. DJs were great.

 Caribbean Parties Attended – Jamaica & Trinidad

  

Party Nuh Nice Again!!

 

Several parties in these two countries, are turning into profiling events – less dancing and more standing around with numerous competing high tables adorned with top-shelf liquors. Partygoers, including myself, are dissatisfied with the evolution of the party scene across the Caribbean.


Caribbean People Love Party Bad

 

This dissatisfaction has spurred intense and animated discussions in my soca groups. Some of the comments posted include:

 

"Party tickets are too expensive."

"These ticket prices are just foolishness."

"Promoters are trying to recover COVID-19 losses."

"Patrons stop dancing in parties."

"Too many high tables in the parties."

"Parties are now a status symbol."

"High rollers are the only ones enjoying the parties."

"The DJs talk too much."

“Scammer money nuff bad.”

 

Here are some observations I made at the 14 parties I attended over the last three (3) months:

 

  1. All-inclusive party tickets range from a low of US$44.00 to a high of US$312.

  2. The major cost drivers of promoting a party are the cost of the DJs, selectors, artistes and hosts.

  3. Bottle service is now very prominent in some all-inclusive parties, at the expense of an all-inclusive bar (Jamaica).

  4. Significant sections of the dance areas are occupied by high tables (Jamaica).

  5. Women and men hardly dance with each other anymore. Instead, women are mostly wining and gyrating on each other, while the men form dance crews (Jamaica).

 

I accept that I am an old-school partygoer. Party chasers, like me, love to see beautifully dressed people dancing and having fun. We love it when the female-to-male ratio in a party is equitable. We love it when high-energy music is playing, inspiring patrons to jump, skank, and wine from start to end. We love it when the trio of music, alcohol and women are central to the vibes of all parties.


A Little Bit Too Much Fun

 

The Magic of Caribbean Parties

 

While cricket may have once united West Indian people, it is our love of music and dance that primarily binds us together, regardless of race and social status.  Historically, music and dance have been deeply ingrained in our culture. Even our churches incorporate them as forms of praise and worship. This tradition originates from our African ancestors who found unity amidst the toils of plantation life through music and dance. Today, Caribbean people at home and in the diaspora are united through the sweet tunes of Afrobeats, dancehall, reggae, and soca.


African Party Lovers

 

I believe the Caribbean region hosts the most parties per capita on Earth. Caribbean promoters have created some amazing party brands, which are now held not only across the region but also across the Americas. These parties take place in cities like Atlanta, DC, Toronto, New York, and Miami, many of them being annexed to the carnivals held in these cities. In recent years, they have made connections in Europe and as far as Dubai. Patrons and revelers love to dress up and they spend significant portions of their disposable income to participate in these parties.


Carnival is a Party

                                        

The impact of social media cannot be ignored; it is now being leveraged to spread Caribbean culture worldwide. You can follow accounts like @west.indimade and @bajantube on Instagram to be inspired by the sights and sounds of the Caribbean. On TikTok our culture goes viral every minute.

 

Trinidad and Jamaica remain the epicenters of Caribbean vibes and culture. This might stir some controversy among my Caribbean brothers and sisters but hands down, Trini Carnival reigns supreme. Trinidadians are the ultimate partygoers; that is, they are true to an authentic party experience. Trinidadian parties are filled with fun and freedom.


 Soca Road Warriors


On the other hand, Jamaica truly rules as the party kingdom of the hemisphere in terms of frequency and variety. Jamaica holds the trophy for the most party series, especially during the holiday seasons. These series include ATI, Dream Weekend, Vacae Weekend, BRT Weekend, Best Weekend Ever and Frenchmen. Jamaica also boasts some iconic parties each name telling its own story: I Love Soca, Sunrise, Sunn Up, Rise Up, Day Break, Mellow Vibes, Yesterday, Passa Passa, Weddy Weddy Wednesdays and Uptown Mondays just to name a few. Additionally, a slew of brunch parties like Ibiza, Rum for Breakfast, Chillin and Zimi Seh Brunch, are now making waves on the party calendar.

 

The Caribbean party experience is a cultural and economic phenomenon that has to be protected and maintained.

  

The High Table and Karts Phenomenon

 

I hope, dear God, that the Trinidad government bans the use of high tables during carnival events to prevent their dominance as seen in Jamaica. The very essence of dancing is fading in Jamaican parties due to the prevalence of these tables. Initially, the vibrant atmosphere of festivities was threatened by cellphones and private cabanas and now exacerbated by the introduction of high bistro tables.


Night Carnival - High Tables


The high table pandemic is now suffocating the energy of parties as patrons are confined to their tables, guarding their overpriced drinks and leaving little room for spontaneous dancing or mingling with strangers. I appreciate that Trinidad parties still provide ample opportunity to ‘teef a wine’ with a stranger, wrap your arm around a foreigner and fete like a family, in the absence of high tables.

 

In Jamaica, the high table is transforming the landscape of parties. It has become a status symbol - if you don't have one, you are just not relevant. The sexily dressed bartenders casually ignore patrons who do not order a high table and bottle service. Each table boasts about $50k - $100k worth of liquor. While the bottle service bar is big and well-staffed, the main bar is small and short-staffed, often resulting in lengthy waits averaging 15 minutes just to get a drink or even ice.

 

Trinidad Carnival - Karts


While Jamaica is leading the high table charge, Trinidad is leading the party karts trend. In Trinidad, man-powered karts are a distraction and hazard during road marches. They resemble unsettling scenes from the African slave trade or historic Arabian cities, where black men are forced to pull high-coloured women and barrels of water for miles along the roads. The karts occupy so much space and pose a danger as they weave through thick crowds and risk running over people's feet. There's something about creating status and distinction in a party lately, and these karts feel like yet another poor way of doing so.

 

VIP was already bad enough, but adding tiers like ultra-VIP and Sky View, exacerbates the issue. We soca people are anti-VIP in a soca party. Let’s leave that for Chris Brown and Friends.  


Chris Brown Venue Layout

 

Don't get me wrong, people are allowed to enjoy their money in any way they deem necessary. My issue is that real partygoers can't find a place to dance anymore; the new dance partners are now the high tables and high-end liquors!


Conclusion

 

As a party enthusiast, my passion for jumping, skanking, gyrating and wining in parties will continue to fuel my high energy. I echo the sentiments of many who feel dissatisfied with the high-priced party tickets offered by promoters that often lack sufficient return on value. While promoters undoubtedly should make their profits, they must also prioritize nurturing the authentic and unique party culture of our Caribbean community.


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6 commentaires


RahTid TV
RahTid TV
17 avr.

On reading this post! First of all Wow had no idea that parties where that expensive... I'll indulge the vip section now and again because I believe strongly that it's money well spent.. but on reflection I generally don't enjoy you made mention of the profiling high table culture they are now creating and it's quite frankly sickening... we really don't party anyone and when you do your left to feel crass or careless. Thanks for the insight however... I feel Abit more compelled to experience Trinidad carnival

J'aime

Party til u puke was definitely my motto. I’m that person that will travel anywhere to party. Jamaica has been my fav one stop for parties. Familiar faces and familiar territory conjoined. Lately, party scenes have changed. You couldn’t be more right about the high bistro tables, where I come from you pay for those tables. I’m not sure if they cost in Jamaica but not my favorite thing for several reasons. The main reason, I’m always fearful that that same high table will be used as a weapon of destruction. I’ve seen it happen. They are always placed in some awkward spaces, creating clutter and just utter annoyance.

Bottle girls, there are way more bottle girls than bottles bei…

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P KG
P KG
04 avr.

Jamaica party scenes have evolved into profile scenes with an aesthetic appeal for social media. Your opinion is on the spot... what I get now are back aches... no vibes and screw faces because you stand next to their tables. 😏

J'aime

Thanks for that nice blog !!! In montreal we used to have those quind of party but it never been that big and unfortunately now we dont have them anymore.. I would definitely love to attend one of those in trinidad or jamaica one day 😃😃😃!!! Take care 💋

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Ashley
Ashley
03 avr.

Well written Doc! All facts. It is so frustrating to spend my hard earned money to hear djs talk and play music for themselves! Or to spend $10k on a ticket that requires I bring my own drinks! I think Jamaican djs, promoters, party planners should visit carnivals in the Eastern Caribbean for a taste of authentic FETE! Mas is unity. It is a culture that embraces ALL; social status should not be a factor.

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