Trafalgar Square Pan Jamboree
On a bright and sunny Sunday afternoon on the 2nd August 2004, when temperatures reached the high twenties, Trafalgar Square was transformed into a Steelpan Village. Six of the UK’s top steel orchestras Nostalgia, Metronomes, Southside Harmonics, Pantasia, Stardust and Croydon entertained the crowds of visitors, tourists and supporters to London’s refurbished land mark.
This event has been running for the past four years and is as a result of closer working initiatives by the British Association of Steelbands (BAS) with the Mayor of London‘s office. Over the past four years BAS has fully supported the Mayor in taking this London icon (Trafalgar Square) to another level to be fully appreciated and enjoyed by local and national communities as well as global tourists.
Even though performance times were between 3-6 p.m. Metronomes started playing at 2:30 p.m. fuelled by the lovely weather, the ambience of the Square and crowd appreciation. Pantasia and Southside Harmonics followed and the Square was transformed into an electric atmosphere, people were dancing everywhere. As the six orchestras were dotted around the lower level of the Square it was not unfamiliar to see the crowds drifting along from band to band as though mimicking the Square’s ‘inhabitants’, the pigeons.
As the afternoon progressed and the temperature rose, the fountains became wading pools for many children as well as some adults. The Elvis look-alikes made their annual appearance and treated the crowds to some vibrant twisting. In the meantime Croydon steel orchestra positioned at the foot of the stairs which provided ample seating and gave the distinct impression of an amphitheatre, treated their audience to a varied repertoire and even had some young lads doing the traditional Russian dance. Stardust positioned at the North corner of the Square and dishing out some catchy numbers attracted large audiences at times and received lots of compliments. Pantasia was by far the orchestra with the beat and repertoire that pleased the crowds immensely. Pan Jazz was their theme and they deliver it so well.
The jewel in the crown was by no doubt Nostalgia, the only ‘pan around the neck’ orchestra in the UK with their founder, Sterling Betancourt MBE, still carrying his tenor pan at age 78. The crowds followed Nostalgia as they made their way around the Square led by the lone flag woman proudly waving a Trinidadian flag. Southside Harmonics’ young and capable players delivered some heart rendering tunes and had the crowd fully entertained and begging for more. Their submission to the public‘s request saw the GLA’s appointed events organiser for the Square’ Summer events put a stop to their performance owing to time restraints. The event was a great success with Trafalgar Square being filled with the sweet sound of steelpan ensuring that everyone was treated to the wealth of pan music on offer. Don’t miss the 2005 Trafalgar Steelpan Jamboree.
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