The event started early in the day with DJs Zehra, Bambii, TNT, Syrus Marcus Ware, and Pleasure. Kicking off the night’s proceedings were DJ Nik Red and iDrum. It was the perfect musical response to the rain, the clouds and the chill in the air. But the DJs, who are usually the highlight of Blockorama played second fiddle to the live performances. It is for this reason, perhaps, that Blockorama won Pride. The Blockorama line up was tight and carefully conceived- scheduling longer performances by more competent acts rather than multiple small acts.
The American Rapper signed to Missy Elliot’s TheGoldmind Inc. label came out and delivered. We may not have heard all the words she said, but she gave it her all with an engaging performance backed by dancers and her DJ. My only quibble is the line between hip hop hype and hip hop anger is dangerously thin and often blurry. There were moments I was completely unsure if she was happy or just pissed off at all of us. I would consider limited usage of the f-word to express emotion in future performances. Overall, I like Sharaya J’s energy and if you haven’t heard of her, peep YouTube.
I am a socaphile. So, it was my civic duty as both a bacchanalist and a queer woman to see one of my favourite soca artistes perform at Blockorama 17. The social and political significance of this moment cannot be ignored. As a Caribbean artist, much of Destra’s bread and butter is made performing in islands that openly and proudly stand against homosexuality. Soca for all its love and unity has its fair share of anti-gay music and musicians. Destra delivered a masterful, inclusive and entertaining performance. Having seen Destra and many other soca acts perform live, the gender dynamic is an integral one- the women pander to the pleasure of the men and vice versa. Destra from her opening song Lucy to her closing with the classic Celebrate was able to give a sexuality-neutral performance seamlessly.
When a young man in the audience asked Destra for a dance, she obliged. Bringing him on stage Destra asked, “Are you gay or straight?” He replied, “gay,” “and you want to whine on my boomsie?!?” she struck back. Well, ladies and gentlemen he did whine on her boomsie and handled himself more than admirably. Destra ended the moment with a warm embrace and an ‘I love you’. It was the first ‘I love you’ of the night. At which point, Destra launched into her unity segment performing Max it up, Wave Your Rag High, Bonnie and Clyde, I Dare You. During her performance of Wave Your Rag High, Destra called on stage members of the crowd hoisting their Caribbean flags- Trinidad, Jamaica, Barbados, St. Vincent and the Grenandines, Grenada, Guyana and more.
Destra’s performance at Blockorama proved just how truly sad it is to discriminate against another person simply because you don’t agree with their choices. For all the hate that is spewed at them, Black African and Caribbean LGBTQ individuals are proud of their countries and revel in any opportunity to wave their flags.
So who’s next? I for one would love to see a performer from the African continent on the Blockorama stage for Pride 2016.