Bajans love to fete eh.

This was no young people’s thing; this was full-on proper hardcore Bajans celebrating their country’s independence. I love the Bajan vibe just as much as a boat ride and this was a culmination of the two loves, so was bound to be a memorable night. After all I was going with my select crew and we were ready for the full Bajan vibe.

Getting here and being there!

Promoted as a Bajans in London / Release D’Riddim collaboration, I had been looking forward to this boat ride, so booked the tickets early. The ticket stated that the boat was leaving at 8.30pm sharp from Temple Pier, so leaving home at 7.15pm we knew we were cutting it fine with multiple pick-ups. However, there is something about a boat ride that ensures you try to be there on time, as it’s not like a club that is static and some point you may get in. A boat will literally leave you (unless you’re the DJ’s, promoters or the food and drink supplier); otherwise there is nothing that could save you from watching the boat sail off without you. Luckily, we arrived at Temple Pier at 8.30pm sharp and milled around with the others that started to gather. It was a cold night, but we were smart and wore our large coats to try and counteract the cold.  However, I am at odds with promoters that state times and do not fulfil them. This boat ride was billed to set off at 8.30pm, but we were left standing around until around 9.30pm – an hour later? An hour in the cold to get on boarded?  It was beyond belief to be left shivering outside in the cold, not being let on or offered any kind of explanation or apology.  As we stood there, watching the caterers arriving at 9.15pm with food, we wondered at what point would we board?  It was fruitless asking questions at the time, as we could not spot a representative amongst us. It was freezing, but as 9.30pm approached we got the call to board and the majority of people gratefully queued up to get in quickly.

Boat ride rules

Now, we have all been on a boat ride and we know the rules. The river can be choppy, heels are not wise but we had the “we don’t care” crew boarding.  It could have been a fete in the Arctic Circle and someone will be sporting high heels and shorts. The ramp that also connected us to the boat was ridiculous, as people were literally walking at a 90 degree angle down the ramp; to say walking down that ramp was challenge was a clear understatement!  As anyone that wore high heels of any kind would have found it rough going to walk down that ramp.  I did not wear high heels but still had to cling on to the rails for dear life. Watching the women with heels tackle this ramp with the utmost difficulty was like a comedy show and thankfully no-one (that I witnessed) fell.

Security was tight!

Security to actually get onto the boat was tight. You were fully searched upon entry and that security team would have a found a Rizla paper – they were that good. The security team were also very visible on the night and frequently roamed all throughout the boat, including the uncovered rear, in case anyone became too drunk, or drunk enough to feel that they are superman or woman and try to fly themselves off the side of the boat.

The Bajan fete

I love the Bajan Soca and could not wait to be treated to the Bajan Soca delights, we were simmering to wuk up. The only problem was that because we all waited so long in the cold, the vibe was difficult to pick up. However, the DJ’s did not disappoint and as the evening went on, we warmed up and started to wine up. The crowd was mixed, and we initially felt like outsiders as everyone knew everyone. It was like a Bajan lime on a boat. Whilst there were strong Bajan connections, they did not make us feel out of place and a group of Bajan men, who looked like they loved to party, had the boat jumping with them.  They were an eclectic mix of fun personalities that added to the highlight of our evening. Despite us feting and mixing with the crazy crew of Bajan boys, the initial vibe felt a little Bouji; in that I mean it was not an all-out, bruk wild boat ride, the ladies were dressed to impress, but my crew and I love a good wuk up and we were waiting.  The crowds were definitely mature and seemed past that need to lift one leg up in the air.  That said, as the DJ’s started to throw down the tunes, the vibe ramped up and we and the rest of the crowd started to jump up with the said crazy Bajan boys’ crew.

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The Crazy Bajan Boys Crew (As you can see, they are not boys)!

Culinary boat ride delights

Food was provided, which was surprisingly really good; a choice of rice and peas, mac pie, coleslaw, chicken, fish (which ran out quick time), or curried potato and chick peas for the vegetarians. With ample space to sit and eat, you could enjoy the meal that came with the ticket.

Time to wuk up!

As the evening wore on, the crowd became more relaxed and it was evident that this boat ride was heating up! Release d’Riddim DJ’s were also there, unleashing their Soca musicality geniuses and they never disappoint.  People were ready to fete hard and then the DJ threw down “Split in the Middle” by Freezy, and as you could imagine the crowd went wild. I really can’t do the splits – and there were a fair few of us that stood around watching in awe.  As 12am approached, the boat ride was in full fete mode, us, the crazy Bajan boys crew and the rest of the crowd were treated to a selection of DJ spins and we fetted until the the boat docked at 12.45am. As we disembarked, there was a general consensus that this was a good night. I actually enjoyed myself, as with the people around me; we had the benefit of being around good people, good music, good vibes, with good food.

Redeeming qualities…

Whilst, it was apparent that it was a shaky, negative start to this event, Bajans in London redeemed themselves with this boat ride, as we all conceded that we had a ball. I have never feted with a nicer, friendlier bunch of people. I almost want to be Bajan, it’s that deep! To the promoters’ credit, I spoke to the actual organiser after the boat docked and subsequently contacted Bajans in London on Facebook, by connecting as a friend.  I was surprised at what ensued. I was officially welcomed into the group along with a few others and to be honest, I was a bit blown away. You see, I join many groups and receive a confirmation when added. But that’s it. No “hi” or any other recognition that I joined, so this welcome actually surprised me. However, it afforded me the ability to provide my thoughts, with regards to the issues towards the wait time. My comments were taken on board, apologies given and explanations provided as to the delay in boarding. The problem was that there was static boat docked next door, who had priority over boarding, they had delays but we still had to wait; unfortunately it was those factors that contributed to the delay in boarding.

Needless to say, this event was full of solid Bajan lovers, a nod to all those Bajan. The joint venture between Bajans in London & Release d’Riddim “Gem of the Caribbean” boat ride was truly a success, a fantastic boat ride. You just have to come and experience this feeling of almost being Bajan amongst these folk. I am just glad I was not filmed singing “I am a Bajan”!

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