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Local Promoters, Events Take Flight To Florida

Published:Monday | October 3, 2016 | 12:00 AMCurtis Campbell
Lawless Events presents Rum Bar Rum Marco Polo, dubbed ‘The Wild, Wild Wet Party’, held at LIME Golf Academy, Park Boulevard, New Kingston, on Sunday, August 28, 2011.

More and more local party promoters and events are now taking flight to Florida in an effort to expand the scope and reach of their brands.

Soca events like I Love Soca and Dancehall vs Soca, as well as events like MAPS, Sandz, Igloo and Marco Polo, have benefited so much from the use of social media (Facebook and Instagram) for promoting its brand that there are growing demands for these events outside of Jamaica, especially in Florida.

The Gleaner recently spoke with the vice-president of Miami Broward Carnival, John Beckford, who revealed that Jamaican events have a high success rate in Florida due to the fact that the island leads other Caribbean countries where numbers are concerned.

"Jamaica accounts for the largest English-speaking Caribbean market in Florida. We are only rivalled by Haiti and they are not English-speaking ... Jamaica also has icons like Shelly-Ann Fraser, Usain Bolt and Bob Marley, so the country is very marketable. Overall, there is a big support for soca and dancehall music and that is also testimony to having a strong presence of Caribbean people in the State, especially in South Florida," he said.

Hosting events in the United States understandably means that event organisers will have to adopt to the rules of a new culture, and Beckford says the requirements exceed those in place in Jamaica. He also noted that advertising can be overly expensive.

"We try to make adequate use of social media and I find it to be more cost effective. We also mitigate costs by securing media sponsors and, as such, we manage without having to spend hard dollars," he said.

Another local promoter, Fabian Lawless, who recently took his Marco Polo event to Florida, says the event can be seen as a franchise.

"We pretty much conquered Kingston. We went to Ocho Rios and pretty much conquered Ocho Rios. We have one of the biggest events in the country and we are looking to do other areas as well. We were invited to Miami by fans of the six-year-old event and we decided to take up the challenge. We thought now would be the best time," he said.


He, too, made mention that commercial advertising was quite pricey overseas, however, party hopping and the handing out of flyers have come in handy.

They also have hopes of taking Marco Polo to countries like Trinidad and Cayman.

Sandz promoter Andrew Ellis also shared that there has been a heavy demand for the party in Florida since 2015.

"The market is ideal because of the heavy concentration of the Jamaican diaspora in the South Florida region. Being one of the more recognisable event brands here in Jamaica, it is a good opportunity to transition into a market of younger persons within the diaspora who are always up to date with what's hot and trending at 'yard' (Jamaica)," he said.

"One of the advantages of promoting in that market is that there is, essentially, a larger pool of patrons available just in terms of population when compared to our home here in Jamaica, which means more opportunities for growth. The main disadvantage is that there would be a lot more things to consider in terns of governance, policies and licences, so it is important to do your research before exploring this avenue," he added.

The promoter also believes that hosting events outside of the island may be beneficial to promoters who are seeking to avoid Jamaica's saturated market. He also highlighted that for any brand to grow, it must be open to expansion.

It was recently announced that the iconic stage show, Sting, would be heading to other countries next year under the banner 'One World Sting'.