Sunday, 14 January 2018

Day 1 - The Deluge and a Hanson Zombie Apocalypse

Day 1: Saturday - The Deluge and a Hanson Zombie Apocalypse

We woke up on Saturday morning to more torrential rain. It had been raining on and off (mostly on) since Wednesday night and, as a result, the resort was pretty much flooded everywhere. I sat on the porch of my ocean front bedroom, drinking coffee, looking worriedly at the stage, half-built at the far end of the beach, its metal frame taunting the sky for lightning. Almost opposite my room, what I figured would be the mixing desk tent flapped maniacally, mercilessly battered by the elements*.
So far, not so good.

By that point, all sorts of rumours were going around the resort about possible contingency plans for that night’s show. Deep down, though, I still hoped that somehow, gods of all denominations would intervene and let us have our concert on the beach. The idea of being bussed to an outside location did not appeal at all: the resort is in the middle of nowhere, with only a smattering of small towns and villages nearby - it’s not like Las Vegas, where even the cheapest hotel has its own theatre. And as for an alternative location within the resort, nothing stood out as suitable.

I love the rain, but when you’re in an-all inclusive beach resort and it rains for longer than a few hours, you suddenly realise how those places are basically Disneyland on a beach - totally unequipped for life indoors. So if you’re looking for something to do, you’re out of luck, unless you are prepared to stay in your room with a book - hardly the most sociable activity when you’ve been looking forward to seeing your friends for months.

There was very, very little to do. I’d planned to have a facial at the salon (not the spa) that morning, but when that didn’t happen (I’ll spare you the boring details), I headed straight for the breakfast buffet. The hours that followed are a rainy blur, and were spent eating, registering, eating some more, drinking, eating, drinking, eating - until the announcement came via Hanson’s twitter that the show had been cancelled. You can only imagine the disappointment, especially given that soon after the news came, the rain stopped. But by then, Hanson and Island Gigs would have had to make a decision one way or another, and nobody could really blame them for not taking any chances with that monsoon-like weather.

Later that night, the resort’s admittedly excellent entertainment team put on a show in the main square - steel drums, dancing and synchronised swimming. We, however, wanted to sit around and chat without loud music blaring in our ears, so we headed back to the porch. It was the first semi-dry evening we’d had since we’d got to Jamaica, and as I sat on a rocking chair** on the porch, I thought there could be much worse places to be, after all.

Then, all of a sudden, a van turned up and out came Hanson. We were so engrossed in our conversation that at first we didn’t even notice them - one of my friends was frozen on her seat, unable to speak for an interminable moment, convinced at the same time that she was perfectly capable of communicating Hanson’s presence to us by means of telepathy. It didn’t work, and eventually she managed to whisper a strangled ‘they are here’.

The Selfies Begin

We stayed put on the porch as Hanson went into the reception building - from what we could see they were taking band ‘official’ photos and talking to people; then at some point fans got in and the selfies began. Soon after, the guys left and headed for the main square, clearly putting on a personal appearance to compensate fans for the lack of show (aka a Guilt Appearance™). When we finally deemed it safe to go and check out the situation, we were met with a depressing, if predictable spectacle: Isaac taking selfie after selfie, with a long line of fans waiting for their turn, like congregants at Mass lining up for Communion, with Isaac, of course, being the priest (after all, Isaac always goes into ‘priest pose’ when he doesn't have a guitar in his hands). 

People queuing up to receive Communion

Isaac in "Priest Pose"

We stayed as long as we could bear it, but life is too short to watch a Hanson brother take selfies with a gazillion fans, and once a collective nope was spoken, we went back to find our seats. The porch was still as empty as when we’d left it - the chairs still rocking ominously like a scene from a movie. Considered the Hanson Zombie Apocalypse that was going down in the nearby square, the image was rather fitting.

We’d been there for a while when we saw Zac, who was walking back to a waiting van outside the reception building. He saw us and came over. “Hi, how’s the porch?” he said.
He chatted with us for a couple of minutes- not long, but it was a nice gesture, and something that I’ve now seen Zac do on several occasions. If you don’t harass him, he often comes and speaks to you, unprompted. There’s a lesson there, if anybody is interested. 

Night One ended with a debrief in ‘the swanky apartment’ - i.e. Ingela’s room. We should have been on a post-Hanson show high, but the mood was subdued after four days of rain and the change of schedule, and we had no idea if we’d get all our shows in the three days that were now left of this wet and grey Back to the Island 2018. Day one had come and gone, and instead of the Rock All Night ‘welcome show, we got Hanson Selfie Hour instead.

One thing was certain: BTTI 2018 had started not with a bang but a whimper.

Even the sign looks sad

*The video I posted was taken a couple of days before the event and before the sound tent was actually built, but you get the idea.
**The rocking chairs at the Melia were lethal. I crushed the top of my feet on them several times and my feet are still bruised from them. They’d never pass Health & Safety Regulations in the U.K.

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