It Was All About The Rum, Wheel And Come Again!
The key to any good party is the music, especially where Caribbean people are concerned. This year’s annual Caribbean Association in China (CAC) Christmas event had all the makings of a heaving downtown club with 300 revellers bringing the energy and positive spirit from the islands. It all happened at the CAC’s venue of choice – the Crowne Plaza Shanghai.
From the moment the doors opened at 7pm, already a sizeable crowd had entered taking advantage of the Caribbean buffet spread which this year had some additional new recipes. There were the stable rice and peas, salt fish and jerk chicken offerings. And coinciding with the event’s theme, there were debuts dishes like stewed pork in rum sauce, rum baked fish, lamb seasoned rum and melon soaked in rum. You guessed it, was all about the rum.
The same sugarcane produced liquor culminated in the much in-demand Caribbean rum punch which had queues of up to thirty people all eagerly waiting to quench their dance-induced thirst. A number of raffle prizes were given out throughout night varying from homemade Caribbean bread, a home furnishing hamper and restaurant vouchers, to stays in five star hotels and leading French skincare products.As opposed to previous CAC Christmas celebrations where there were a number of entertainment items woven into program, this year was kept simple. “We wanted to change things up a bit and give people a chance to really let their hair down and party,” said CAC President Byronie Richards.
And the gamble paid off. Once the buffet line had petered out, people were in gear and ready to rev up their starting engines. Taking centre stage was invited guest DJ Laoban, and from the moment he spun his first reggae track not one bit of the dancefloor became visible. It was a sea of bodies swaying to pulsating rhythms. The atmosphere was electrifying.Of Japanese/Korean decent, DJ Laoban first stumbled across reggae music when he accidently purchased a copy of Shaggy’s ‘Oh Carolina’ when he was just 14 years old spurring his lifelong passion for the genre. “It was during 1998 when Mr Vegas ‘Heads High’ was a big tune and I really got into MCing and DJing. At the start it was just for fun because turntables at the time were way too expensive for me,” explained Laoban.
He then moved to China in 2002 and has since become an unofficial pioneer for Caribbean music. “Everyone knows that Japan is huge on reggae music. Jamaican artists perform in Japan every year. In fact, we have many Jamaicans living in Japan and increasing number of Japanese people visiting Jamaica each year. Now China is a new market for us. It’s small but growing and I have already played in cities like Shanghai, Hong Kong and Shenzhen,” he said.
Laoban drew curious glances from a number of guests arriving at the Christmas party, all probably wondering if he could really play to a majority Caribbean crowd. Any question marks were instantaneously erased with his first power punching set which riled up the dancers with one 90s hit after another. Terror Fabulous ‘Action’, Red Rat ‘Tight Up Skirt’ and Shaggy ‘It wasn’t Me’ – Laboan was on fire. There was also a nod to some home-grown Japanese talent by way of Barbie Japan and her 2010 soca hit ‘I Miss You’.The night continued to pick up speed as Bahamian MC Clarence called on people to take on various dance challenges on stage. People jiggled and let loose with ‘Wok Up’ and displayed some hinge-bending neck swirls on ‘Dutty Wine’ which brought on ecstatic reactions from partygoers. Then the limbo pole was thrown in the middle of the crowd which prompted the annual dance-off. Soca music kept the atmosphere on a high as that pole kept going lower and lower. There was only one name that people had to beat – the CAC’s very own Christal Oliver.
Unbeaten now in four years, she had a glint of sheer determination in her eyes as she wrapped a coat around the bottom part of her just-too-short dress. The fiery red of her clothing seemed to match her smoking hot performance. As each contender withered out (and probably waking up the next morning with an almighty backache) Christal just kept going. It was an inevitable game, set and mach to the Antiguan beauty.
When the party was about to end and people were still sweating out their dance moves, that was clearly a huge compliment to the DJ to maintain such momentum. After all, who could resist the remix version of Psy’s monster South Korean hit which Jamaicans Mega Banton, G Loc and Singer J remade as ‘Gangnam Badman Style’. Laoban my selecta, wheel and come again!“First I want to big up President Byronie and Vice President James for giving me such a great experience at the CAC Christmas party. Big up everyone from the Caribbean and Africa who came out tonight. God bless you all every time,” closed Laoban.
As corny as it may sound, it was the warmth and sense of unity that made the event such a huge success. Practically every Caribbean identity was present that night and if not, the decorative flags placed all around the venue ensured each nation was represented. Many were meeting each other for the first time. But the very fact that we were all foreigners in China with a common cultural thread uniting us – meant that it was like meeting up with long-established friends. And as a member of the CAC executive board, I couldn’t have been prouder of what we all achieved as a team.
Laoban put it best when he said: “I may not be Caribbean, but the culture has taught me everything from love, unity and respect.” A true dat!