Calypso lovers were turned away from the opening night of Kaiso Showkase on Friday, as an overwhelming response caused the Fire Services to close the gate to the Palms Club venue in San Fernando.
Police also stopped the entry of vehicles into the car park on the compound, even for those who had special passes, instead directing them to find a place to park on the side of Pointe-a-Pierre Road.
The tent's management apologised to patrons who could not get in and those who had to take in the four-hour long show standing up and assured it would not happen again.
Road manager Garvin Joseph had the task of turning away patrons, and apologising, asked them to return on February 14, when the calypso judges would visit the tent to select semi-finalists for Calypso Fiesta. The tent opened in Rio Claro last night.
Joseph had to stand firm as some patrons insisted on seeing their favourite artiste perform. Some had choice words for him when they realised no chairs were available. Refunds were also demanded.
Trinbago Unified Calypso Organisation PRO, Steve "Ras Kommanda" Pascal said 1,000 chairs were ordered but that number may have been reduced by the Fire Services to keep corridors, entrances and exits free.
Going forward, he said, an alternative venue may have to be found or the list of special guests on opening night reduced to leave the seats free for paying patrons. One challenge he foresees is the lack of a venue in an environment where patrons can be free to knock on the stage to encore an artiste, share a drink, or eat a pack of nuts.
“You can’t do that in SAPA (Northern Academy for the Perform Arts, South). The only other possibility may be the Naparima Bowl, to open up both sides as was done for the recent David Rudder concert.”
For the duration of the season, he said Kaiso Showkase would be heading to different venues to bring calypso to the people as having a home-based tent every night at Palms Club is not sustainable.
Pascal said the interest in the indigenous art form augurs well for its future and believes calypso is in good hands judging from the number of young artistes among the 25-member cast who opened on Friday night. Artistes were backed up by Razor Sharpe The Band and accompanied by Kaiso Flame Chorus girls.
Three cultural stalwarts were recognised and rewarded for their contribution to the art form, including former culture minister Joan Yuille-Williams, who was hailed by Pascal as “Joan of Arts”. Other recipients were Ann-Maureen Donawa, mother of one of the tent’s rising stars Rondell Donawa, who received several encores for his solid performance of Hang Dem High, and calypso judge Hugh Grant.