My last week (month? life?!) has been leading up to this…SEAN PAUL, the HUGE dancehall, reggae, pop star, was coming to Belize. For one show. Probably the biggest name to EVER perform in Belize in concert.
To say that I was giddy, still am giddy, is an understatement. Sean Paul – a Jamaican performer with huge number of hits – his first international one was “Gimme The Light” in 2002, who has worked with artists like Beyonce, Rihanna, Enrique Iglesias, who brought Dancehall music international… it’s all just too much. IN BELIZE CITY.
Note: He did perform here in 1998…but that was WAY before he was SEAN PAUL. He was working a slightly different look back then.
I clearly had to go. And a few weeks ago, I went down to Placencia and met with part of the promotion team at the Tipsy Tuna Bar and Restaurant. And asked. You can only ask, right?
And so Saturday afternoon, I took the water taxi over early to check out the set-up at Belize City’s BTL Park and to pick up my ALL ACCESS PASS!!!!!!
The tents were setting up, the stage, the huge speakers…and the doors were set to open at 10pm.
And the platform for those with “Diamond Access” – the $500bz tickets for the show. Only 75 available and I’m pretty sure they all sold out.
The silver and gold tickets were on the ground level in the front and the general admission to the back. I heard tons of complaints about how expensive the show was…but $55bzd general admission? With a bar and some AMAZING music? I think that’s a pretty good deal.
After the past few days of rain and chilly weather, the skies opened up – and the sun was smiling on the show. I’m sure of it!
WAIT…10PM! I had some serious planning to do. I heard rumors that concerts here can last until dawn…eat, nap, coffee? 2 naps? 6 coffees?
I went out for a HUGE meal, picked up a 3 shot espresso latte to go and took a “disco nap”. At 9pm, I was ready to Sean Paul.
I arrived at BTL Park at 9.45pm and…along with the workers…was practically the first one there.
My friends from Belikin were set up in the general admission area selling some pretty cool stuff…
These Lighthouse Lager glasses are pretty clever – using Sean Paul’s first huge International Hit “Gimme the Light”. I got myself a pair.
And they had a live party photographer and Instagram feed for the night. Also pretty cool.
The back drop…one of the many photos…
Security was TIGHT. I was metal detected at the front entrance, my bag eyeballed. At around 11pm, lots of police officers came in.
I even snagged an introduction to the head of the GSU (Gang Supression Unit) Inspector Flowers. These guys are…just…no joke. And while the police are hired for events like this, the GSU goes where they are needed. Like the A-Team, they are NOT FOR HIRE.
I took a visit to their mysterious black bus. And watched as they readied a filming drone to go up and scan the crowd.
By midnight…maybe 12.30 people started filing in. Sigh…I am always so early for events. I’m quite sure that will never change.
The party crew from San Pedro …
And across the street at the casino, the balconies were filling. Too many lost tickets. I heard the plan was to shine some super bright spot lights up there…but the party on these balconies got pretty big as the night went on.
At about 1am…maybe a bit later, the opening acts (all from Belize) started. A “boy band” called The Truth – lots of acrobatics and girls in school girl uniforms and some seriously good acts like Tapric…
and Denise Castillo. Killer voice.
Sean’s people (managers, photographers, lackeys) started setting up the stage and it was announced that he would start at 2.30am. No, this was not stalling…he’d been booked to start at TWO THIRTY IN THE MORNING!
From what I could tell…I was the only one surprised by this.
They put out waters and wash clothes and taped his play list every where.
The band (yes! drum, guitarist, keyboards, a few DJs) came out to get the crowd ready…and I was almost paralyzed. I kid you not.
Sean Paul’s dancers were absolutely amazing – absolutely the two best dancers I’ve ever seen perform. Plus SUPER NICE…they were willing to high-five the 41 year old gringa blogger when going on stage.
SO NOT EASY to pull off these outfits. And they did…
And then after dancing and pacing in his tent…
Me, the police and Sean Paul. It. was. amazing.
Run around and see him from all angles. ALL ACCESS! From the Diamond section…
From in front of the stage.
And pretending to be “with the band”.
There were a few other photographers (I mean a few real photographers) with big cameras trained on Sean Paul. His manager quickly came down front and kicked them out. I guess they don’t want pros filming the concert? My little point and click comes in handy again!
Well…not for taking the high quality photos but for getting to stand right in front of Sean Paul for a few hours. Sigh…bliss.
One of my favorite Belizean performers – Ernestine Carballo – waved and posed for me.
The show was over well after 4am. But so super fun. And crazy…and…sigh, I loved it. Sean Paul was absolutely amazing. The band and DJs SO good. The crowd, though a bit smaller than I expected, was crazed.
And I didn’t feel unsafe for even a second. LOVE IT.
I even bought a few t-shirts…love them too.
And… for me, the next big show is in APRIL. (Should give me enough time to catch up on my sleep.)
DAMIAN “JR GONG” MARLEY. Youngest son of Bob. HUGE REGGAE STAR.
WELCOME TO JAMROCK.
Thanks SO MUCH to the promoters and Gillian and Salva Z. of the Tipsy Tuna for hooking me up with this amazing experience.
Trust me. Pretending to be part of Sean Paul’s group could not have been more fun. And if someone would have told me, 10 years ago, that I’d be back stage at a Sean Paul concert in Belize City? I WOULD NEVER HAVE BELIEVED IT.
And I couldn’t be happier.