By: Salvador Barajas Jr.
As is the case with most festivals: chaos is king. The Saturday after-party for the One Love Cali Reggae Fest was not immune to such chaos, having its moments of confusion, starting with the tickets. Purchasing tickets to the after-party was not enough to get into the event on The Queen Mary (see Image A), you also had to get a wristband that served as verification that a ticket had been purchased to said event. This, of course, was not mentioned at the moment of purchase or when picking up the tickets at the will-call booth. A perk of being a person with massive anxiety problems is that you plan for such inconveniences ahead of time; murphy’s law and all that.
I got to the event a couple of hours before the doors to the after-party were set to open; anticipating the chaos. I picked up my tickets at the will-call booth, which was conveniently located next to the shuttle drop-off point, and made my way towards the ship. I looked around for security personnel, or event staff, to ask for confirmation that the after-party would be held in the Queen Mary Ship/Hotel, and not in a hall somewhere in its vicinity, and was pleasantly surprised to find out that the event would, in fact, take place in the ship itself. From there I went to the ship, located its entrance, and found some of its staff members. I asked them about the after-party and they confirmed I was in the right place and they would start letting people in at around 7pm; it was 530pm. With an hour and a half to spare I decided to walk around the area and take some video and pictures of the ship (see video below). At around 615pm I decided it was time to head back to the ship in case there was a line forming to get in to the event. As I got there I noticed there was no one in line so I went up to the entrance and asked if they had let people in to the event already. The person guarding the entrance, visibly annoyed (possibly from having to answer the same question over and over again in a 1 to 2 hour span), repeated that they’d be letting people in at 7pm. I found a bench close to the entrance and decided to wait there until 7pm. While waiting at that bench I met a lovely Australian woman who made an otherwise boring moment fun and interesting, I opened an intoxicated woman’s beer bottle with my belt buckle, and I helped an Indian kid and his father find the booth to purchase tickets for the event; it was a great reflection of the cultural mosaic that formed the festival. At around 645pm I saw a young man walk up to the entrance guard and get turned away. As he walked past us he told us they’d sent him to the will-call booth to pick up the aforementioned wristband. I went back to the entrance and was instructed to do the same; so there I went. At the booth they told us that they wouldn’t be handing out wristbands for the after-party until 7pm. Ten more minutes of waiting and we finally had them.
After finally being let into the ship it was time to find the location of the after-party. The ship staff’s directions were as vague as the instructions to actually get in to the event: “Go to the fourth floor.” A group of 10 people made our way to the 4th flour. Once we reached it we scrambled to look for any sign or poster, or any indicator, of where to go. Nothing. No signs, no posters, no arrows, no staff members directing us. We were on our own. The group split up into three smaller groups to search for the venue and, after about 10 minutes of walking the halls and going up and down stairs, a staff member finally provided us with direct instructions on how to get to the show.
And what a show! (see the recap of the show as well as the live performance of Tunnel Vison, Johnny Love, and Easy Star All-Stars on my YouTube channel).
Click on the link below to watch the video review of the festival.