Soca in Moka back with a bang, after 2-year hiatus

The content originally appeared on: News Americas Now

Black Immigrant Daily News

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

HANDS IN THE AIR: Soca songstress Nadia Batson had the crowd moving during her high-energy performance on Sunday at Soca in Moka, St Andrew’s Gold Course. Photo by Jeff K Mayers

AFTER a two-year absence, Maraval’s most popular Carnival fete returned in epic style as hundreds of patrons drank, sang and danced the night away in the Soka in Moka all-inclusive fete at St Andrew’s Golf Course on Sunday night.

This was the first time the fete was held at a venue outside the Trinity College grounds.

Soka in Moka is one of the first events of the Carnival season and has traditionally been used by artistes to gauge crowd response to new songs.

From as early as 4 pm, patrons poured into the venue eager to get their Carnival pump going.

The crowd generally consisted of older patrons who were long-time supporters, but several new patrons were also present.

While it was not the venue many long-time attendees were used to, the golf course setting created a more sophisticated atmosphere as partiers socialised in small groups poolside or took photos at several banners and signs across the venue.

Patrons also came out in their finest at the Soca in Moka all-inclusive fete. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

With multiple tents offering drinks and different dishes, from Jamaican jerk chicken to Chinese and Indian cuisine, patrons were never far away from sustenance or grog.

As the afternoon rolled on, the relaxed, laid back atmosphere of the event gradually increased in pace with the first performance by Raymond Ramnarine and Dil-e-Nadan.

By 7 pm, the party was in full swing as performances from College Boy Jesse brought out the energy of patrons who shed their initial reservations and took to the dance floor.

During his performance Jesse, real name Jesse Stewart paid tribute to Blaxx, who died last year, with several cover versions of his songs.

Speaking with Newsday, organiser of the event and former vice principal of Trinity College Janice Richards said she was generally pleased with the turnout and the crowd response.

“It (the turnout) was even better than we expected.

“We wanted to try something different as we called it, the return, it worked, but we had some challenges.

“We didn’t know what to expect we knew it would be a big Carnival but with this pandemic one never knows, we still don’t know because some of our faithful patrons weren’t too keen on coming out as we’re still in a pandemic with the large crowds without masks and so on, but all in all it wasn’t bad.”

GOOD TIMES: Patrons enjoy themseles at the Soca in Moka all-inclusive fete on Sunday night. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Richards said while she did not expect the food to finish as quickly as it did, the event was still a success.

Commenting on the tributes to Blaxx, who was a regular at this fete, Richards said while his passing was sad, she was pleased his legacy was still honoured by his fellow performers.

Chutney soca artistes GI performed his new song 10 wheeler with Viking Ding Dong to the delight of patrons who sang the lyrics word for word.

GI, whose real name is Imran Beharry told Newsday he was pleased with the crowd’s response to the single

“It was massive, I’ve been in Soka in Moka in the past.

“It was awesome sharing the stage with Ding Dong and it was unrehearsed so it goes to show how good the chemistry is.

“Once we command the crowd and get that engagement that’s what it’s all about.”

The excitement continued up to midnight with performances from Neil Iwer George who stirred patrons into a frenzy with new and old songs.

Speaking with Newsday, Iwer said he felt the success of Soka in Moka set the tone for the rest of the Carnival season and was excited to continue attending other events.

Neil “Iwer” George gets up close and personal with the crowd at the Soca in Moka all-inclusive on New Year’s Day. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

“Moka was a very impressive start, it’s a new venue, a bigger venue than last one and it’s full so the numbers look like it’s more than the last time so it’s a bigger place but in terms of the music and the people’s responses they are enjoying it a lot.

“I’ve been in Moka fete since the foundation and I’m the longest-lasting artiste in the fete, I started with the third Soka in Moka.”

“I have 40 shows right now and I want to go to 100, that’s the kind of love I want to give the people.”

CARNIVAL NOW START: Patrons getting into the groove a the Soca in Moka all-inclusive fete. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

Another high point of the night came with performance Nailah Blackman whose songs brought the crowd back to the dance floor.

Speaking with Newsday after her performance, Blackman said she also felt the event officially marked the beginning of the Carnival season.

She said while the patrons may not be familiar with some of the newest songs, the fete was a good introduction to what music they can look forward to.

These friends had a good time at the Soca in Moka all-inclusive. Photo by Angelo Marcelle

“I think everyone’s really waiting for it to start and I think it kind of started here tonight because there has been so many festivities happening even like before Christmas and around in December but the energy that Carnival comes with, it wasn’t really there yet. “You hear some of the music but you’re not really familiar with all the songs and so much music is being released but after tonight I think people are in Carnival mode.”