Right from the offset, I will make the disclaimer in that Ilovecarnivall was the sponsor of Ibiza Soca Festival 2018. However, I will attempt to be as impartial as possible.
Now that there is time to sit down and reflect, let’s have a conversation about the Ibiza Soca Festival of 2018 shall we? Ilovecarnivall attended the first Ibiza Soca Festival last year (2017) and really liked it. I saw its potential (Come on. Soca? In Ibiza? One of the well known party hubs of Europe and the world? Almost dead cert to be successful) and thought it might be a good idea to support it. The Ibiza Soca Festival Team stepped up their game in this Year Two. It was a mad, fast paced fantastic festival to attend and not for those with no energy if you wanted to hit all the events.
Some points remained the same from last year. The central hotel remained Ibiza Soca Festival and most attendees stayed there. It’s convenient. For some of the fetes, such as the Pure Nirvana White Fete and Carnival Fete, you could, if you were fortunate enough, just remain in your balcony and watch the events as the space and pool was internal to the hotel. The Ibiza Rocks staff were friendly enough. And for most of the event locations, it was walking distance away so there wasn’t much effort or money spent in thinking about going to and from the hotel.
In terms of the presentation and organisation of the event for 2018, for me, three main differences stood out. One, the team attempted to reflect more of the Caribbean islands in their booking of artists for the events. There was Nailah Blackman and Kes from Trinidad, Ricky T and Motto from St. Lucia, Lavaman from Grenada, Lil Rick from Barbados, Skinny Fabulous from St. Vincent. I loved that. Most of the artists performed at the All White Pure Nirvana event and Skinny fabulous had his own Black Out event. The performances were good.
Secondly, the venues. Last year, most of the events were held at Eden Rocks which is a good venue but after going to three events in the same venue in a short space of time over the course of a weekend, it tends to get a bit boring. This year, there were different venues; good venues, surprising venues, which was a fantastic step up and it was good to see soca in these locations. There was a rooftop location, a boat party, a seeming Roman themed venue where you could get thoroughly drenched (Es Paradis) if you wanted to and a venue (Ocean Beach) where you could get your cool, classy vibe on. And those venues seemed to fit in so well with soca. The iconic Es Paradis was just perfect for the Jouvert Paint Party and Red Eye’s wet and wild water fete. When the guns splashed masqueraders with paint or the water came down and filled the pool area, you should see the surprise and joy for those in that area. It got crazy! And there were some ‘ahem’ events in the pool that showed people were seriously enjoying themselves.
Three, a boat fete was included (powered by the Just Vibez team) but at an additional cost. I’m glad there was a boat fete as I felt that was missing last year.
For those that left on the Sunday night or early Monday? They missed in my opinion the highlight premium location; Ocean Beach. Sun beds, cabana beds, personalised hosting, VIP area near the pool. Now this is an incredible step up for soca to be housed in. And in my attending soca events around the world? The only two other soca venues I have been to that are as lavish, has hosted soca and maybe equals Ocean Beach are; the location of Dr Jay’s Toronto Soca or Die event at the Cabana Pool Bar and the Hyatt Hotel fete in Trinidad during their carnival. But this location brought even more with the live circus performances over head. That was unexpected. A couple of friends of mine were back there the following week for a separate event and loved it.
Those were the more salient differences between Ibiza Soca Festival 2017 and 2018. However, there were others. There were more international DJs/teams bringing their musical skill sets to the events; Back to Basics, Release D Riddim, Just Vibez, Soca Lyon and more. And the attendees seemed to more international. There were just not the well known teams from Europe such as the Dutch Soca Lovers and French, Kiss and Wine. There were also individuals from Atlanta, New York, Canada. There were some particular individuals from America who recently heard about it, didn’t have passes but just booked fight tickets and came. And loved it. I love that spontaneous impromptu spirit! It did feel more international. There were more themed events such as the carnival costume theme which of course I loved. There were goodie bags for those who stayed at Ibiza Rocks hotel. And there were wrist bands. Another difference (which was outside of the team’s control) was the weather. It was most defintely warmer last year. I don’t ever remember thinking last year I need to walk with a jacket. But it was much cooler this year. Especially after the wet fete? It was not warm.
As I said before, to go to all the events of the Ibiza Soca Festival (official and official) is for the experienced feters, those who have the energy, who can keep pace. And I guess those who want to go to all. You might want to take in a bit of Ibiza whilst you‘re there. I’d probably recommend adding an extra day or two to your Ibiza Soca Festival experience for that. There were after parties and after after parties where the Ibiza Soca Team gave out complimentary shots to the hardcore feters and others showed off their talents beyond soca. There were people who had a plane to catch in the morning, hadn’t packed but were still there wukking up. There were two ladies who were celebrating their birthdays and went innnn…. One took the mic from DJ Stephen and began to sing… and DJ Stephen’s mouth dropped at the audacity of it all. This festival catered to all types of soca lovers; those who like to get down and dirty and get crazy, those who like to dress up, those who like to be in beautiful surroundings.
The Ibiza Soca Festival team did a great job improving the event from an already good event of last year. The venues were amazing and organisation was good. The artists performances were good. The music was on fire at events. You see the Wet fete? They played all types of soca; power, groovy, jab, bouyon, chutney, dennery segment. Tracks I haven’t heard in ages. I am trying to remember if I heard the dreaded ‘Palance’. I think I heard it once during the entire festival. When they played ‘Siwo’ at the after after party, I was all kinds of happy. Not soca but they did cater to the large french attendees.
But there’s always room for improvement which partially comes from feedback from attendees (some attendees came to Ilovecarnivall to feedback to) and good observation. The Ibiza Soca Festival will get bigger. Some attendees would perhaps like an option of ocean views or being nearer the ocean. Some may not like to be in the melee all the time and would like the option of dipping in and out as they please. It would be good to have a second or third hotel recommended by the Ibiza Soca Festival Team. Maybe as this gets bigger, the team would consider a subsidiary hospitality front facing team to deal with possible queries and concerns which arise during the festival. They can’t answer all queries personally during that time. Some were upset the Monday Circo du Soca event hadn’t been told early enough as they had already booked their flights home. Others were not happy paying extra for the boat cruise. We need food on de boat eh. Or let people know to line their stomach beforehand. When I left the boat, I was ready to eat all of KFC and all the paella I could get my hands on. But this is only this festival’s second year. I am hoping it can only get better.
I have been thinking and asking others ‘What was your favourite event?’ And it was such a hard question to answer. All the events had vibes, people ready to party and have a great time. As events, three for me stood out. The carnival theme event (duh, Ilovecarnivall? I get to wear a costume again?), the Pure Nirvana all white fete with the artists and the wet and wild fete. Ocean Beach as a venue location got me. You know the times when you sit back and memories of an event have you smiling or laughing? There are certain songs, places an phrases which will forever be linked in my head to certain people and situations. The ladies and gents I rolled with had a time. Wonder what the Ibiza Soca Team will do differently for Ibiza Soca Festival 2019! I can’t wait!!
Don’t believe me how lit the Ibiza Soca Festival was? Have a look at the videos produced by Advance Dynamics for Ilovecarnivall on You Tube and Instagram.
Videography by Advance Dynamics. Photography by Ilovecarnivall