Fly the 'tailgate' for more fun - Promising party idea attracts thousands
The American recreational concept of tailgating is being widely adopted in Jamaica, especially in hotels such as Sunset Jamaica Grande and Sunset Beach in Montego Bay. But wait, it is also a part of the Carnival activities in Jamaica.
Xodus Carnival kicked off the eventful Easter weekend with their annual TailGate cooler fete in association with Trinidad and Tobago's Wild Goose. This group has hosted similar events in the twin island and is known for creative party concepts like 'Anything But Coolers' (ABC) that encouraged patrons to carry their liquor in something else other than the usual insulated containers.
The turnout was impressive, easily pulling over 1,500 patrons and a vehicle-packed parking area at the National Stadium. If you did not own a vehicle, cooler or grill, you had better found a friend that did or a group of friendly tailgaters to join.
From the smallest car to coaster buses lined the lot, some patrons went all out by hauling tables, folding chairs and all the gear you could imagine necessary for the six or seven hours of partying. Some vehicles (the best, of course, pickup trucks) simply provided a more convenient platform, literally - that some females turned into dance floors.
Chillin' and grillin'
Soca music was at a high-pitched volume and speakers were set-up throughout the venue, so all could indulge in the fairly new carnival experience. The smell of char-grilled Copperwood spare ribs, amid whatever seasoned meats were being 'cheffed-up' by the patrons, filled the air.
It was all about socialising for the carnival community, as TailGate attracted socaphiles from all over the Caribbean. The free-spirited setting had patrons exploring or making new friends. In fact, Major Penny and DJ Watty of Trinidad paused the music for a moment to urge patrons to turn to one another and say hello. If you are a soca lover, it was easy to tell what song was coming next. Singles of Trinidadian soca artistes like Kes' Hello, Hulk by Blaxx, Splinters by Shal Marshall and Machel Montano's Soca Kingdom, left on repeat, was not a problem.
With coolers filled with alcohol and chasers complemented by a lit grill, many opted to stay by their vehicles for most of the night, but as the energy picked up on the stage around 11 p.m., persons could be seen moving closer to the front; clearly defeating the purpose of the team up, drive-in, park up and party concept. Maybe this can be avoided the next staging (some time later this year) by putting the DJ platform in the centre of the venue and having the vehicles positioned around it.
All in all, TailGate is something to look forward to, since patrons left wanting more.
Here are some of the highlights.