After a long, long time separated from our music and our friends, it was a joy to be able to celebrate with genuine, three-dimensional people to the sounds of calypso, steelpan, soca and reggae on Friday 25 June.
Dubbed Windrush Friday, the event was organised by Just Vibez and took place at the terrace café outside the Royal Festival Hall. Instructed to “bubble in your bubble” within touching distance of their table, people largely complied. But although we may have lacked the opportunity to revel in full-on bacchanal, the broad smiles on people’s faces expressed the sheer pleasure of being able to get out again, feel the sun on our skin and listen to good music in good company. It felt like we’d finally been given the chance to dance our way out of captivity.
As well as plenty of soca old and new from the Just Vibez DJs, we were privileged to enjoy a standout performance by young soca violinist Jada Marsh and steelpan from CSI steelband, who definitely got the (socially distanced) crowd into summertime party mood.
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Calypsonian De Alberto performed a ‘customised’ version of Kitchener’s Windrush-disembarkation song London is the Place for Me plus his own ever-popular Harry for King. On the very day that policeman Derek Chauvin was sentenced for the murder of George Floyd, De Alberto also gave us a new calypso whose title references the victim’s dying cry, I Can’t Breathe.
For soca-lovers, though, this event was a long-overdue breath of fresh air and a chance to meet up with old friends – a true soca reunion.