We wake up, chill for a couple of hours and head out to get something to eat before going to the Soca or Die event. I had heard about this event in London as the ONE fete I had to attend at Caribana. They were not wrong.
So we hop into an Uber (trust me, Uber is the way to move around Toronto for fetes, they are cheap and plentiful!) and head to the Cabana Pool Bar. We go through security and head up the ramp and you get hit with the full visual impact of this Cabana Pool Venue. I kid you not, it is absolutely stunning! All white decor (cabanas, umbrellas, seating towels), a 21ft LED digital outdoor screen right above the DJ booth, a fantastic pool and poolside bar, even phone charging stations; all right next to the lake. It is breath taking. And it is a very spacious spot. You can choose to lime in your cabana, or head nearer to the DJ Booth or go by the pool or head upstairs to take in the iconic skyline of Toronto. The only other soca event I have been to where the location made this much of an impact is the LIME all inclusive fete at the Hyatt Regency in Trinidad. And Dr Jay was right when he told me you add soca to this and the results are outstanding!
Soca or Die began at 3. But we didn’t get there until 4. There were a good many people and it was more of a liming feel. People taking in the place, getting drinks, getting to know one another, the stewards attending to those in their cabanas and the promotion girls floating around the venue. The Djs had the music pumping and people slowly moving forward to the front of the DJ booth. The crowd was very diverse. Apart from attendees from Toronto, I heard quite a few different international accents. I keep forgetting how far and wide soca music is appreciated. And people did not disappoint on the sartorial front as they were dressed to match the occasion.
By 6, 6:30 pm? Soca or Die was a different kind of animal. The vibes moved from primarily liming to feteing and the event got turned up to the level of class of its own. The Djs got the crowd on a high! They played a variety of soca music from across the years and across the sub genres of soca. The venue got packed quickly and people were enjoying themselves on every front. There was wining, jumping, singing, waving flags. There was even one very enthusiastic Trini (I could tell by the Trini rag tied round his head, flag vest, red shorts and accent) who started throwing powder around the crowd. Some people found very curious locations and positions to buss a wine. Although there was a serious crowd, waiting at the bars for service was not an uncomfortable experience as it was not long a wait.
I didn’t stay to the end of this fete as I had to conduct an interview. And I left the event and my friends with great reluctance as I was fully enjoying myself.
So picture this. You have the lakeside with the Toronto skyline on your right. On your left is the bar. In front of you is the DJ booth with the 21ft screen right above playing the best of soca. You look through the DJ booth and there is the lovely pool surrounded by cabana. And everywhere you look people are having a great time! Dr Jay has every reason to be proud of this Soca or Die event. He took soca and our culture up a couple levels. The venue, attention to detail, music, people… it was all on point. So, can I add my voice to the many who recommend that if you are heading to Toronto for Caribana? Soca or Die is a must!!!