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The Anchorage Valentine Debacle
Posted: Monday, February 17, 2003

By STEPHEN KANGAL M.O.M, CARONI

Having fallen innocent victim to the massive media advertising blitz and forked out three blues to attend the Valentine Concert at the Anchorage on Feb.14 I formed certain reasonable expectations with respect to both the quality and standard of presentation commensurate with the Valentine hype. I could not foresee the debacle that ripped off the pockets and endangered the safety of thousands of patrons.

Corporate sponsors including Newsday/ FM103/ TTT etc must exercise greater vigilance and seek to protect/defend their image from being associated/tarnished with mediocrity and moneymaking as a well as from inadequate, uncaring, lack of the requisite safety standards. The profit motive must not be seen to be superseding the interests/safety/ value-for-money expectations of patrons.

Although scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. dinner guests could not enter the Anchorage until 7p.m. We had to join long queues in a buffet dinner setting conspicuously devoid of the usual trimmings and trappings that one would reasonably expect to conjure up the romantic ambience of a highly- publicized Valentine occasion.

The Concert turned out to be an unmitigated, unvalentine disaster. Profits took precedence over safety, security, the stage and the setting.

The Concert began as a headless chicken with a luck-lustre performance rendered by the mediocre Rampersad Bros Orchestra of Penal.

Although the Kiss Natraj Dancers were accorded much pre-concert media hype, the cramped, make-shift tent stage provided little or no space for the dancers to exhibit their movements and consequently their presentation was amateurish, discordant and disheveled.

Even presenter Anne Marie Ganness appeared to be at sea at the Anchorage. She stumbled several times on the mini stage both orally and physically. Anne Marie should stick to her journalism and TTT Panorama News. The concert stage is not conducive to her verbal repertoire.

Dil-E-Nadanís offering was ordinary and pedestrian with their music overpowering, competing with and drowning the melodious voices of stunning vocalists Shaliza Babwah and Saraswatee Maharaj. I had to seek refuge from their aural, ultra- decibel, deafening onslaught.

Shades of the Maska Wet Fete haunted me throughout the event with no security in sight for over 3,000 patrons. In view of the location of the concert area if a fire or fracas were to have started out in the predominantly wooden structure that is the Anchorage with two small exits/entrances, a mad stampede will have resulted with the only escape route for the 3,000 plus patrons being the sea. Fire Service personnel must conduct mandatory checks of the physical arrangements for shows of this size and insist on proper safety measures being instituted. There also must be an acceptable ratio between a visible police presence and patrons in these uncertain and perilous times.

This over- publicized Annual Valentine event turned out to be a huge anti-climax, if not a rip-off.



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