It was no surprise that Ife Alleyne was crowned the winner of the 2014 National Calypso Queen competition which took place on January 19 at Queen’s Hall, St Ann’s.
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QRC transforms Outta de Blue
T&T Guardian Entertainment Editor Peter Ray Blood, himself an old boy of Queen’s Royal College (QRC), speaks with members of the QRC 2014 Fete Royal committee: Kenrick Harrinauth, president of the Queens Royal College Old Boys’ Association (OBA), and chairman of the QRC 2014 Fete Royal Committee, and David Simon, principal of Queen’s Royal College.
Blood has attended each of the previously held Outta de Blue Carnival all-inclusives, staged by the QRC Foundation, and has seen the event evolve to the creme de la creme fund-raiser it is today. Amongst the innovations in 2014 are the shifting of the main stage to the southern end of the venue, high-tech social media facilitation and beauty stations for female patrons.
PRB: Let us get right into our discussion. Last year there was no Outta de Blue. Why was this?
DS: The former committee the QRC Foundation, in discussion with the OBA and QRC PTA, took that decision based on the short season and the challenges of the previous year, 2012, such as dwindling numbers and other reasons to stop hosting the event.
PRB: So how did the QRC 2014 Fete Royale come about?
KH: Both the OBA and the PTA recognised that without the QRC all-inclusive, a number of the school’s needs would not be met. As such, we decided to pick up the mantle to raise the funds necessary to meet some of those needs and also to assist others.
PRB: What are these needs?
KH: Well, in discussion with Mr Simon, we recognised that the college was in dire need of a proper computer lab. The last major donation to the computer lab was made by the OBA over 15 years ago. In addition, the college also requires a more modern Science lab.
PRB: Now that the old boys and the PTA have taken over, how will this event be different? You know that this was considered as the “elderly” party in the past?
KH: True, but what has happened, with the formation of the new committee comprising OBA management members, members of the PTA, members of the college administration, including Mr Simon, himself an old boy, and some of our younger old boys, the event has taken a new look and energy.
DS: Since I identified the need for the computer-lab upgrade, I was very happy to see the OBA and PTA rallying to the cause. In addition, the college, recognising that there are other institutions in need, we will share the proceeds of the event by contributing to the Grande Riviere Anglican Primary School Library, and Rainbow Rescue.
KH: What’s different, Peter, is a totally new approach to the fete. We had fresh new ideas, as two major weakness were identified: music and food. Hence the wide variety of the menu, and the performing bands that we have chosen, the décor will ‘wow’ our patrons, as we transform Outta de Blue and into the new Fete Royale.
We have hired some of the best artistes to perform. Asylum Vikings with Bunji and Fay-Ann, Kes the Band and Dil-e-Nadan are three top bands in the country and with an appeal for the young and not so young. We also hired Jus Jase, an old boy, and DJ Franco.
PRB: That’s really a change from the past.
KH: Yes, it is, and we did not stop there. We listened to the partygoers and they told us we needed to make these changes.
We also took a new approach and we have redesigned the party space. We placed the stage on the southern end of the grounds to allow easier viewing and more space to party for the patrons. We will have elevated platforms that allows patrons to be at eye level with the stage, we will transformed the space with attractive decoration, lights, furniture and fixtures.
It’s a new QRC Fete Royale. It’s going to be an exciting event.
KH: In addition, we are having two large screens for onsite viewing and messaging, and free wifi. This means that our patrons will be able to communicate easily. They can BBM, WhatsApp, Twitter and Instagram all during the event.
PRB: All of this and we haven’t yet spoken about any of the food and drinks.
DS: Again, we have redone the entire menu by attracting new suppliers and offering an even wider menu. We are having authentic Indian cuisine, our local Indian cuisine. We will have Chinese, Mexican, Italian, Arabic and Thai dishes, as well as bake and shark, geera pork, fish and chips, corn soup, doubles, a Rampanalgas fish broth...and just when you think it’s over, we are having suckling roast pig.
KH: We have a few surprises for the ladies as well. We hired a number of hairdressers and makeup artistes to provide touch-ups in the ladies’ lounge.
PRB: That’s a lot of food and a great variety too. Same for the drinks?
KH: As you enter the venue, you will be greeted by a number of brand ambassadors offering a variety of welcome drinks while being entertained by the QRC steelpan ensemble.
Our major suppliers have arranged a number of surprises for our patrons. I can’t give it all away at this time but let’s just say they will be pleasantly surprised. We have arranged an interesting and thrilling experience for our patrons. All of the premium brands will be there, including many drinks for the teetotaller.
PRB: It seems that QRC has really transformed itself on its return to the fete scene.
DS: Yes, we have, and that’s why we are appealing to our past supporters and new supporters to come and have a new and exciting experience. We want our patrons to have a great time, enjoy their drinks, the great music and the variety of foods and go home feeling satisfied. We want to exceed their expectations.
PRB: All bases seem to be covered? Are you all considering an “arrive alive” awareness at this event, ensuring that your patrons do not overdo their imbibement of alcohol?
KH: There sure is. We have also arranged a Sober Zone and Sober Lounge. These areas will contain teas and coffees, soups and lots of water to help the patron who may have gone over the limit to relax and ensure that they will reach home safely. We are supported by Arrive Alive, who will be on site advising and assisting in this area.
KH: Let me take this opportunity to thank our major sponsors—Carib, Angostura, Brydens, Hadco and Blue Waters and the many other suppliers who have all come together to partner with us to provide this exhilarating experience for our patrons.