Putting Sparkles in your event
Sadeke Brooks, Staff Reporter
After more than 25 years in the entertainment industry, Robert Wong has moved Sparkles Disco from just a sound system to a thriving production company.
Wong said he started Sparkles Disco in 1984 but branched out into Sparkles Productions in 1996. Since its inception, the company has carved its name into the entertainment industry and has become known for its quality.
"It wasn't a matter of change, it's a matter of expansion. It has moved from just a disco but we still do that," Wong said, adding that he saw a demand and decided to go into production as well.
The company now provides stage, lights, power distribution, generators, roof systems, speakers, scenario planning, special effects, food and beverage services, as well as the marketing and executing of events.
There are about 10 people on staff and 15 part-time workers.
"The work determines the staff we have. We have a skeleton staff for logistics and planning and a lot of part-time staff. Depending on the production, we might outsource depending on the expertise needed," he said.
Wong said Sparkles pioneered a popular carnival practice, the speaker-ladened trailer blaring music through the Corporate Area. Around 1989, Wong said the disco was the first to put a sound system on a truck for Orange Carnival that travelled from Manor Park to Hillel. This was before Byron Lee's Jamaica Carnival started.
Since the start of Bacchanal Jamaica in 2000, Sparkles has been working actively with the event and has progressed from just providing music to being in charge of all aspects of the production.
As the season closed with Sunday's road march, revellers would have been jamming to the music by one of the trucks that was done by Sparkles. Completing the truck, Wong said, took 48 hours of non-stop work. Previously, he said, Sparkles did four trucks for Bacchanal but, "now a lot more people get into the market," so they do less.
No matter the aspect of Carnival, Wong said, good planning and keen execution goes into it.
"A lot of logistics and man hours have to be put in to get it right," he said.
This, he said, has helped to ensure the success of Bacchanal over the years.
"They have never had any event that has had any misfortune. We try to keep the quality high. We always put our best foot forward. Always give 110 per cent. It's a tough act to follow," Wong asserted.
Sparkles works with various clients but Wong said private events are much more manageable.
"You may not find us all over the place but we do a lot of corporate and private stuff. When you doing public events, it's a gamble," Wong said.