When I was invited to play at Tabanca, I really wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was that it was the first event of its kind in the Uk.

Coaches from all corners of the country were to descend upon the sleepy tourist village of Camber Sands and spend three whole days immersed in the caribbean sounds of soca, dancehall, reggae with just a touch of UKG, funky house, Rnb and hip hop.

Headline acts for the weekend were Lyrikal alongside International DJ of the year DJ Stephen.

Whether through meticulous planning or circumstance the majority of the people and coaches arrived at the same time. Unfortunately everyone was greeted to rain as they stepped off their respective coaches. This however did little to dampen everyone’s spirits as mad dashes were made to reception where introductions were made and beers freely distributed to friends and strangers alike.

For those of you familiar with the Southport weekender, accommodation was in the same format. Blocks of chalets held groups of guys and girls who all made themselves familiar once bags were dropped and systems were installed.

After a call to the main hall for a introductory meet and greet. Compere and host Mr C set the tone for fun and vibes and which included amongst other things, roasting whoever was unfortunate to cross his line of sight (myself included! ‘Who let the bus driver in here?”). Orchestrating a impromptu jump up on stage to Palance and doing an island role call. As people left they were ushered out by the sounds of in house steel pan group Ebony.

However given the energy levels of everyone leaving this also turned into a spontaneous sing along with everyone myself included, involved in an impromptu chorus of Machel Montano’s Like A Boss.

Unfortunately I am unable to tell you about the first’s night of entertainment as I slept through the entire evening! Lol

Apparently I wasn’t the only one to have done this. Many people had come straight from a week’s work and took the friday night as an opportunity to recharge and set themselves up for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday morning really set the tone for the remainder of the weekend. The sun was out and so were the people. I needed water so I took a morning walk to find the on site shop and ended up getting hopelessly lost. While asking for directions at a random chalet I ended up with a breakfast of rum punch and conversation but no water! Lol

I think my morning water run reflected and mirrored the ethos and attitude of everyone on site. There was a real sense and feeling of genuine friendliness and fun. Throughout the weekend people were commenting how cool everyone was. It seemed as if there was an unspoken rule of no “stushness”

The saturday morning rolled into the afternoon and word rippled through the camp that the organisers were going to make the most of the weather and have a beach day.

The majority of Tabanca people descended en masse to the beach and either watched or participated in various games ranging from the classic egg and spoon to tug of war and relay runnings.

In keeping with the spirit of the weekend there was plenty of laughter and fun throughout the whole afternoon.

Once the games had finished people headed back to the site and continued the lime at one of the many chalet parties. Despite some volume restrictions imposed by on site security the energy levels and atmosphere remained high. DJ Tate and friends kept everyone bubbling with a good mixed bag of calypso, soca, dancehall and reggae.

As the sunset and the temperature dropped people made their way back to their rooms to relax and prepare for the evening’s events.

Earlier in the year, the organisers of Tabanca had decided to theme each of the weekends events. The Friday was wear your costume from your Maas troupe, the saturday was wear something bright and the sunday was army wear.

Initially for the saturday night there were two rooms of music to choose from. Upstairs in the main hall it was strictly soca, downstairs was the anything goes room. If reggae, dancehall rnb, hip hop UKG was your thing or you just wanted a brief rest from jumping up this was the room for you.

Through no fault of the organisers the main hall was too large to really build a vibe and an atmosphere so the decision was made after 2am to move the whole party downstairs into the slightly smaller room.

As we know smaller venues often create the opportunity to build a real energy and atmosphere, and this was this case with the downstairs room.

The main headline acts were held upstairs with Lyrikal and DJ Stephen working hard and creating some good vibes. Crowd favourites for Lyrikal were Conquer Meh, Cloud 9 and Loner. Lyrical really engaged the crowd often stripping his songs down to an acapella and a tapped hand beat on the microphone during his well known choruses.

DJ Stephen as you would expect worked the crowd nicely using both microphone and song selection to get everyone jumping up and involved. A personal favourite was getting the crowd into a huge interlinked circle for Kerwin’s Dubois’s hit song Circles.

After Stephen finished his set everyone made their way downstairs to continue the lime until the early hours of sunday morning.

The good weather remained with us on the sunday and the morning and afternoon atmosphere replicated the previous day. Systems playing in various areas of the site and people liming in their respective groups.

For the final themed camouflage night people really went the extra mile. There were gun belts, rambo bandanas, camouflage warpaint and errr minions! Lol (don’t ask)

Various DJ’s and sounds played on the final evening with a broad mix of music played. Standout favourites for me where the reggae selection and the final twenty minutes of the night which was strictly slow jams. I myself, along with the majority of the remaining limers were singing out to every song. Clearly triggering some pre “Netflix and Chill” memories.

Although the rooms had to close at five people were not ready to go to sleep or stop liming. Several systems across the camp were drawing people into their respective chalets and continuing until the sun came up.

I found myself in the chalet of Yello Yout Sound from Reading blazing a classic selection of dancehall that had everybody inside sweating, the walls included! Lol

Morning came and it was a drunken stumble from chalet check out back to the waiting coaches. With new friendships made and memories created it was smiles all around as people headed back to their school runs and early mornings.

The general consensus of opinion for the UK’s first soca weekender was nothing but complimentary and positive. As people left the question on everyone’s lips was “when can we book for next year”…