The last weekend in August is known as the kick-off season for carnival time in Brooklyn. West Indian people travel from other states and the Caribbean to converge on NYC for a week filled with “fetes.” The mood, this time of year in the West Indian community, is jubilant as this is the last official Summer weekend where carnival themed events start on Thursday continuing throughout the weekend all leading up to Labor day Monday with the West Indian American Day parade on Eastern Parkway.
For months, participants of Oba Stephen’s Soca flash mob e-gathered within the confines of their Facebook event page to stay up to date on the latest info and announcements. Oba’s Soca Dance Flash Mob made its debut two years ago in front of the Barclays Center. On August 26th, 2017 the Soca Dance Flash mob made its evolution to the Brooklyn Museum for the second time in a row where the event took place.
Unlike traditional flash mobs that feature mainstream music, this flash mob, as the name suggests, features Soca music as the unifying genre. The event which draws a majority West Indian crowd is open to anyone who desires to participate. The one mandate is that participants bring a flag representing their respective country. As founder Oba Stephens said, “Show the world we are unified as Caribbean Americans.” Flags from Trinidad, Haiti, Jamaica, Barbados, Belize, Dominica, Grenada, and Guyana were all represented in the crowd.
The day started at Dr. Ronald McNair park which is adjacent to the Museum; one hour prior to showtime. This was the meetup spot where Oba handed out purple wristbands to indicate participants active participation. To pull off this feat, participants had to be in place at exactly 12 PM sharp! The dance routine was planned out to last exactly 10 minutes. Around 5 minutes to, participants began making their way across the street to head to the museum.
participants continued to dance freely and “get on bad” in the streets and along the Avenues
At exactly 12 PM the music started on cue as the Children ages 6-16 led the spectacle to the song “Kings and Queens” by Sekon Sta, SJC Voix Riches and Allia Lewis. The children who had a separate routine from the adults executed with military precision never missing a beat, though they must’ve been filled with excitement they kept their composure as the crowds gathered around them cheering. Two minutes into the routine the music faded into a different song. This time the adults joined in, and everyone danced to “Workout” by Kes and Nailah Blackman. People out strolling by on Eastern Parkway stopped to get a peek of the scene. Enticed by the sounds of Soca blaring from loud speakers parked on the curb; it was an unusual Saturday morning occurrence.
The flash mob ended promptly at 12:10, again the crowd quickly moved along towards Washington Avenue-they were heading to the “Parade,” an after party of sorts culminating on Empire Boulevard where participants continued to dance freely and “get on bad” in the streets and along the Avenues.
The conversation surrounding the 2018 event has already started, and Oba Stephens and Choreographer Kira Ross are working out how to make the next event even bigger and better.